One of Britain's leading Muslim figures, Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, will face war crimes charges in relation to Bangladesh's 1971 campaign for independence from Pakistan, The Telegraph reports. The case parallels that of American Muslim leader Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, the president of the New York chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America, who is suspected of being a chief executioner for pro-Pakistani Islamist forces during the independence war.
Mueen-Uddin denies the allegations, calling them "politically-motivated."
But the chief prosecutor for Bangladesh's International Crimes Tribunal says he has "prima facie evidence of Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin being involved in a series of killings of intellectuals" and vows that charges will be filed by June.
During the war, Britain's Mueen-Uddin and America's Khan both were members of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, a South Asian Islamist group founded in Pakistan with branches throughout the region. The two allegedly participated in massacres of intellectuals carried out by the pan-Islamist group, as well as a paramilitary force called the Al-Badr Brigade, which were designed to punish the newly born nation's cultural elite.
Bangladesh has since indicted national Jamaat leaders for their roles in the 1971 killings, proscribed books by the group's founder for their "militancy and terrorism," and repeatedly threatened to ban the organization.
After Bangladesh's successful fight for independence, Mueen-Uddin took British citizenship and became a prominent Muslim activist there. In 1989, he led protests against Salman Rushdie's controversial book, The Satanic Verses. Around the same time, he helped found the extremist Islamic Forum for Europe, said-to-be Jamaat-e-Islami's European wing, which has advocated for a Sharia state in Europe.
He also became the director of Muslim spiritual care provision in Britain's National Health Services, helped to set up the U.K.'s dominant Islamic organization, the Muslim Council of Britain, and became a trustee of the major British charity Muslim Aid. He threatened to sue The Guardian in 2009 after a columnist wrote about the allegations against him. The newspaper issued a subsequent apology for part of the column.
Although Khan put his roots down in America, he also remained connected to Jamaat-e-Islami-linked organizations. He joined the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), which was founded according to Jamaat-e-Islami's extremist ideology by South immigrant members who moved to the United States. Uzzaman was the national leader of the group from 2000-2001, and is currently the president of the organization's New York branch.
Neither the United States nor the United Kingdom has an extradition treaty with Bangladesh. It is unclear what would happen should formal charges be filed. The charges being discussed carry the death penalty.