Bangladesh Hangs Islamist Tycoon
Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali was executed on Saturday night after deciding not to seek presidential clemency, the last option for a death row convict to avoid the gallows.
Ali, a financial backer of the Jamaat and a business tycoon, was hanged at around 10:30pm at the high security Kashimpur jail in Gazipur district near Dhaka, the jail authorities said. Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal confirmed the execution. Ali, who had led the ruthless Al-Badr militia — that supported Pakistan Army in the port city of Chittagong during nation’s Liberation War in 1971 — became the sixth individual to go to gallows for ‘crimes against humanity’, over four decades after Bangladesh emerged as an independent country through a war against Pakistan .
Before the high-profile execution, jail authorities allowed 22 of Quasem’s family members to meet him.
Russel Sheikh, a senior Police official, told AFP that officials had taken the “highest security measures” ahead of the execution for fear of violence by his Islamist supporters. More than 1000 police personnel were deployed in Gazipur and hundreds of paramilitary border guards were outside the prison and in Dhaka, security officials told AFP. While the other five convicts were hanged at the Dhaka Central Jail, Quasem was the first person to be hanged outside the capital. On Wednesday, a day after the Supreme Court upheld Quasem’s death penalty, the Jamaat leader had sought more time to decide on seeking a presidential clemency, which would require an admission of guilt. He later changed his mind and decided not opt for it
Ali,, prior to his arrest in 2012, had headed the Diganta Media Corporation, which owns a pro-Jamaat daily and a television station that was shut down in 2013 for stoking religious tensions. He was convicted in November 2014 for a series of war crimes including the abduction and murder of a young independence fighter.
Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali