Bangladeshi seeks vindication over al-Qaeda link accusation 2004/July/28 By TOMOKO OTAKE Staff writer
A Bangladeshi man held by police for alleged connections with al-Qaeda but later released with no charges filed against him made a tearful plea Tuesday for vindication.
Islam Mohamed Himu addresses a news conference at the Tokyo District Court.
Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Islam Mohamed Himu said his 43-day detention by police through July 7, along with the media branding him as an al-Qaeda member during and after this period, has deeply hurt him, his family and relatives the world over.
It has also destroyed his prepaid telephone card business, and he is now facing extreme difficulty getting his life back in order, he said.
"The media didn't show any enthusiasm" to correct earlier mistakes of reporting him as an al-Qaeda member after he was exonerated, he said. "When I go to a convenience store here in Japan, people look at me differently," he said. "I'm still nothing but an al-Qaeda member to them."
Himu, a 33-year-old Bangladeshi national with a Japanese wife and two children, was arrested May 26 over allegations he made a false entry in his company registration documents.
But in reality, investigators questioned him only on his possible links to Lionel Dumont, a Frenchman with suspected connections with the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Himu was released without charge June 16. He was immediately held and detained again over another charge of hiring two undocumented foreigners. He was then released July 7 after paying a 300,000 yen fine.
Himu said he only knew of Dumont as "Samir," as he was called by others in the Muslim community, and had business dealings with him only on three occasions, including the sale of 50 prepaid telephone cards usable in Russia for 33,800 yen, and the purchase of a 30,000 yen digital camera from him.
He was interviewed by two Japanese TV stations before his arrest, and his name and face were televised and reported worldwide. The negative and erroneous image has yet to be rectified, he said.
Himu's company was forced to stop operations three days after his arrest, as phone cards were invalidated and consumer complaints surged.
He has had trouble withdrawing money from banks and is currently unable to make international remittances through his own bank accounts. Many of his clients have declined future business with him, too, he said.
"I'm not al-Qaeda," he repeated, often fighting back tears. "I'm not al-Qaeda. Everyone thinks I am . . . I want to clear my name and my country name. We are not al-Qaeda."
The Japan Times: July 28, 2004
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Alleged al-Qaeda link seeks vindication
Bangladeshi wants apology,
claims he was falsely accused by police, press
A Bangladeshi businessman who was incorrectly alleged by police and the media last year as being linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network is seeking vindication.
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Islam Mohamed Himu, a Bangladeshi resident of Japan, details how his life changed after being arrested by police and alleged to have links to al-Qaeda.
Investigators held Islam Mohamed Himu for 43 days but ultimately found he had no links to al-Qaeda.
Himu said that even since being freed, he has struggled to get his life and business back on track. He has filed a complaint of human rights violations with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
"I want to ask senior officials of the government or police: what was my fault?" Himu said in an interview.
"The Japanese police and media have destroyed my life," said the 34-year-old, who runs a telecommunications company in Tokyo.
"I want them to apologize and restore my life," he said, urging the government to help him obtain visas to make business trips to several countries that have barred his entry following the allegations.
Himu came to Japan in 1995 with his Japanese wife, whom he had met in Canada. After establishing a firm in Tokyo that mainly sells prepaid international phone cards, he obtained permanent residency in 2000.
Police arrested him last May 26 and issued a fresh warrant June 16. They alleged he had falsified a corporate registration and illegally hired two employees, including his brother.
While in custody, investigators mostly asked if he had any links to al-Qaeda, noting that a Frenchman suspected of being in al-Qaeda bought prepaid phone cards from him several times, according to Himu.
He said he tried to prove he had no connection with terrorists, telling police the Frenchman was one of several hundred customers and he had no idea the man used an alias.
However, police dismissed his claim, he said, and leaked to major media organizations, including Kyodo, their suspicions that he was involved with al-Qaeda, and all of them reported the allegations.
Himu said he believes police arrested him as a scapegoat even though they knew he had no link with al-Qaeda.
He was nabbed shortly after the media reported that the Frenchman had stayed in Japan in 2002 and 2003.
Prosecutors did not indict him on the first charge, while a court fined him 300,000 yen on the second charge. He was released on July 7.
Himu said the prosecutors' failure to indict proves he was not an al-Qaeda member, but it did not necessarily constitute a public apology.
All his employees left following the release of the sketchy police information, and he now has 120 million yen in debts due to the disruption of his business, he claimed.
The Japan Times: April 2, 2005
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Bangladeshi nets 1.7 million yen in Kyodo slander suit
Sept 1, 2006
The Tokyo District Court ordered Kyodo News on Thursday to pay 1.65 million yen in compensation to a 35-year-old Bangladeshi businessman and his Tokyo-based company for running reports in 2004 about their alleged links with the al-Qaida terrorist network. Judge Jun Abe ruled three of the five reports over which Islam Mohamed Himu filed the defamation suit lacked reporting necessary for substantiation and there were no grounds justifying Kyodo's belief that the allegations were true. Himu, who lives in Saitama Prefecture, had demanded 11 million yen. From May to June of 2004, Kyodo dispatched reports on the man's alleged close relations with a senior al-Qaida member and involvement in dubious money transfers, based chiefly on reporting of investigative authorities, according to the court. The news coverage began after police arrested the man in May 2004 for allegedly falsifying a notary registration of his firm. He was served with another warrant the following month on suspicion of illegally hiring two employees. While he was held for 43 days, no charges were filed in the first case, and he was fined in the second case. Kyodo Deputy Managing Editor Shuichi Ito said it is regrettable the court did not accept the news agency's arguments that, after the man was released by police, it had been reporting that he was not linked to al-Qaida. The Japan Times: Friday, Sept. 1, 2006 (C) All rights reserved