|Saimun Rahman: alleged ISIL recruiter in Dhaka|
On Monday (yesterday), the Detective Branch of the police held a press conference in which they claimed to have detained, the previous evening, a British citizen of Bangladeshi origin who had come to Bangladesh to recruit 'jihadists' to fight in Syria/Iraq for the Islamic State for Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
This 'arrest' had been trailed with the detective branch telling journalists a few days earlier that they were on the hunt for such a person.
At around 3 to 4 pm, yesterday, Samiun Rahman, the alleged ISIL recruiter, was brought to court no 19 of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate court.
As coincidence would have it, I had just finished interviewing a public prosecutor across the road for another story and I rushed over to the court.
Here is the full transcript of my short interview with him before the magistrate entered the court (short extracts were used in the Daily Telegraph article, above, and New Age)
Is it true what they are saying about you?I had to leave the court after this and did not see the magistrate's proceeding. I was told by a colleague that when his case came up, there was no lawyer present in court to represent him. When Samiun asked if he could say something as he had no lawyer, the magistrate refused to allow him to speak.
They have got no proof.
You are denying it?
Yes, they have no proof. They arrested me five days ago without any charge. Left me in a cell for five days. Yesterday, they take me out of the cell to a train station. Two officers beside me, another two were way forward. They take me forward and then say, ‘yes I have got him. I have got him’ Then they made me sign a sheet of paper. Through out the whole time, I never knew what was going on. Throughout they never gave me no information about what is going on. All they said, was, ‘you are my brother, you are my brother’.
You know they are alleging that you are some kind of recruiter for jihadism. Why do they think this?
I don’t know, because I was speaking to someone on the phone. Whoever I was speaking to maybe is amongst this scenario. They have no proof against me. Nothing regarding my name and anything to do
They said that you went to Syria?
Yes, I went to Syria, for humanitarian aid in 2013. I went with a friend. I got stopped under the ante-terroiram act in Gatwick. I proved to them that I went for humaintrian aid. They let me go after five hours questioning. So now I come here, and just because I spoke to someone about me being in Syria, it wasn’t even in Syria, just the border, I think they go over happy, something like this and they must have contacted a few other people and they said some stuff, but they did not mention my name, I saw the transcripts of the phone calls of the other persons. They never mentioned my name, and now I am under suspicion for trying to take people to Syria. The other two people are from really good families, his mother has a high position in the govt. They accuse them of being terrorists as well
Why did you come to Bangladesh?
Land dispute, within the family
You went to Sylhet/Habigang?
That is where I live
It is said that you were arrested for some offences, frug, alcholic offence in London
This is my previous. It is spent. I don’t have to mention it. I don’t want to mention how long ago it was.
Have you been well treated here?
Treated well, but in terms of communication, very badly. They don’t tell me why I am here, what is going on, what is happening. Until now I don’t my charges
Where did they pick you up?
In Sylhet, my home town nabiganj. My village.
They say that they raided your house and you were not there?
No, I was there
When was this?
Have you asked to speak to the British High Commission?
Yes. They have not allowed me to do anything. Have not allowed me to make a phone call. I asked to speak to BHC straightway. I Just managed to get a lawyer now
Do you have relatives in sylhet
Some cousins. In UK you have rights to make call, but I was never allowed me to make a call.
How are you feeling now?
What do you think will happen to you?
What is your job in England?
Mini cab controller. In central London.
Did your family know you were coming to Bangladesh?
Yes, they all knew
So the people they accuse you of meeting, you met them?
I spoke to one on the phone.
For what reason?
[He did not want to say]
You categorically deny that you have any conenection with ISIL, Al Quaeda or any other jihadist organisation
You did not come to Bangladesh to recriuit?
No. I smoke. I don’t smoke openly, but I am a smoker
Are you a religious man?
Yes, I pray five times a day
Have you been religious all your life?
No. Started four years ago
What made you become religious?
Wanted to become a better person.
Your parents are in London?
When you were interrogated did you deny all these things?
I was not even interrogated. They kept on taking me in and out and asked me question that were not relevant. They said ‘You did this. You are a very bad man’ Things like this. They did not even question me. ‘Said you are a very bad man. You are the leader, a representive of Al Quader in Bangladesh'. They would not ask questions. They would just throw assumptions at me. This was happening thoughout. Don’t know what I am being charged with.
See here for analysis of what Saimun Rahman said