Another report indicates that a prominent Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) figure is about to face war crimes charges in his native Bangladesh.
Questions about Ashrafuzzaman Khan's role in death squads during Bangladesh's 1971 civil war have lingered for years. Now a website covering New York immigrant communities reports that Khan could be among four people to face charges within weeks.
Khan has denied any wrongdoing, but Global City NYC reports that a Bangladesh war crimes tribunal issued a report in October placing Khan amid a Pakistani military-orchestrated what the tribunal's prosecutor described as a "master plan" targeting Bengali intellectuals and academics "who might have played key roles in the new state" in the civil war's closing days.
Bangladesh won its independence in the war.
Khan has served as ICNA's president and secretary general and remains president of its New York chapter. ICNA was organized by South Asian Muslims in the U.S. and follows the extremist ideology of the Jamaat-e-Islami, which advocates for revolution to create an Islamist state in Pakistan. Its curriculum emphasizes the teaching of conservative Islamists like Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan Al-Banna, current spiritual leader Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, and Jamaat-e-Islami founder Abul 'Ala Maududi.
It is not clear whether U.S. officials would allow Khan to be extradited if charged and the Justice Department's top war crimes officer declined to address the issue. Officials in Bangladesh indicate they would try him in absentia.
Relatives of some of Khan's alleged victims also live in the United States and expressed support for the case. And a group called the Forum for Secular Bangladesh expressed dismay at seeing Khan holding leadership positions in New York.
"There is enough evidence to prosecute Khan," forum Vice President Abdul Baten, told Global City NYC. "If he is innocent, then he can prove his innocence in front of the tribunal."
ICNA spokesman Naeem Baig told Global City that Khan continues to enjoy the organization's support.