From Richard Benkin to Mendi Safadi: Controversies and scandals


Back in 2003, when my article entitled “Hello Tel Aviv” was published in the Jerusalem Post, an individual named Richard Benkin contacted me through email and introduced himself as an advocate of Israel. Few weeks later, when I was arrested by the Islamist regime of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) on false accusations of being an “Israeli spy”, Richard Benkin fought relentlessly and secured my release at the active support and help from Congressman Mark Steven Kirk (Mt Prospect, Illinois).

Since my release, I continued efforts in confronting anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial; promoting interfaith harmony; and advocate normalization of relations between Israel and Bangladesh. In 2008, Richard Benkin founded a non-profit named ‘Forcefield NFD’ with me and Miriam Jones as the co-founders. But all on a sudden, in 2009, Richard Benkin included few more individuals in the board of ‘Forcefield’ with the agenda of running anti-Bangladesh propaganda using “minority” card. That was the point where I decided to immediately disassociate myself from Benkin, as I smelt rat. But month before Richard Benkin founded ‘Forcefield’, in 2007 an individual named Shipan Kumer Basu visited my office and introduced himself as a “leader” of Richard Benkin’s website named “Interfaith Strength”. Shipan even showed me an identity card issued by Benkin.

Also read Mendi Safadi met Tarique Rahman with a fake Mossad agent

Since 2009, Richard Benkin started visiting India on a regular basis and his people were collecting fund from Hindus in West Bengal and Bangladesh promising them support from the US authorities, including Senate and Congress. This matter was brought into my attention by several individuals in India.

On January 1, 2023, Chris Blackburn, a political analyst in UK in a tweet said: “The allegations against Richard Benkin have been mounting. So why has he been entrusted to work with vulnerable Hindus and Afghans? Who is running him? Is it an independent effort? A scam like the Nursing Home scandal and abuse?”

In this tweet, Chris Blackburn shared a newspaper report which said:

“…Dr. Benkin is continuing extortion in India in the name of his works [for] Bangladeshi Hindus and migrated Hindus in India. …since 2007, Dr. Benkin has collected more than 50 thousand dollars from Hindus in India with the promise of raising their issues with US Congress, Senate and other high offices. Poor and destitute Hindus were even seen offering money to Dr. Benkin by selling their lands, as Benkin [had] promised … them [to get back] their [confiscated] properties back…Bangladesh government, … [seized] in 1947 under Vested Property Act. Dr. Benkin is making money by selling his contacts with a few American Congress and Senate members. He also is collecting huge amount of extortion from Hindus in West Bengal through a number of [his personally appointed] agents… Such illegal activities by this American are continuing under the umbrella of Interfaith Strength and [Benkin’s] Forcefield”.

Also read Why Rachel Avraham propagated an Indian scam cartel?

In 2009, Richard Benkin also made an outrageously false claim stating BNP-Jamaat’s false case of sedition, treason and blasphemy against me was “dropped”, although in reality, I was handed seven-years rigorous imprisonment in this case in January 2014 and served the full term and was released in July 2018.

Why did Benkin made this outrageously false claim? Reason is my disagreement with him of collecting cash from Hindus by giving them false promises.

By 2014, Shipan Kumer Basu’s named surfaced Bangladesh media, when it was alleged that Basu has arranged a meeting between BNP leader Aslam Chowdhury and an Israeli Druze named Mendi N Safadi. Safadi was introduced by Shipan as a “prominent leader of Likud Party” and “South Asia coordinator” of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

Since 2014, Shipan Kumer Basu and Mendi Safadi were on monthly payroll of Aslam Chowdhury while they already drew attention of BNP’s convicted fugitive leader Tarique Rahman.

On my release from prison in 2018, I came to know that Shipan Kumer Basu was continuing activities using the banners of ‘Interfaith Strength’ with Richard Benkin and ‘World Hindu Struggle Committee’ with Mendi N Safadi.

Also read Rampant extortion using the names of American organizations and individuals

In 2022, Shipan Kumer Basu was accused of having direct role behind infamous SSC scandal in West Bengal.

Shipan Kumer Basu, president of a scam racket named ‘World Hindu Struggle Committee’ and few of his cohorts including Prasanna Kumar Roy and Mendi N Safadi are under radar of Indian intelligence agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). According to media reports, Shipan Kumer Basus’ name surfaced as one of the key handlers of West Bengal’s SSC scam. The report said, Shipan Kumer Basu was one of the main cohorts of an individual named Prasanna Kumar Roy, who is a nephew of Partha Chatterjee, leader of West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress and a junior minister. Because of extreme intimacy and possible financial links between Shipan Kumer Basu and Prasanna Kumar Roy, Basu gave the position of ‘Chief Financial Advisor’ in his scam racket named ‘World Hindu Struggle Committee.

Following exposure of his connections with the masterminds of SSC Scam, Shipan Kumer Basu posted an announcement on his Facebook ID on August 29, 2022, stating Prasanna Kumar Roy has been “relieved from all posts of WHSC”. According to our own sources in India, such announcement has been made by Shipan Kumer Basu to hide his connections with the masterminds of SSC scam. They said, the Central Burau of Investigation should immediately arrest and interrogate Shipan Kumer Basu and his wife Sabita Biswas Basu for the sake of knowing details of how this couple had collaborated with Partha Chatterjee and Prasanna Kumar Roy in laundering millions of Indian rupees to several countries. According to the August 29 notice,  office of World Hindu Struggle Committee is situated at: 66, Ideal Villas, DA block, Action Area, Newtown, Kolkata- 700156, West Bengal, India. Contact numbers are: +91 95641 86761, +033 4603 0066, Cell: +91 98749 78846, Cell: +91 91238 00434. But Indian intelligence sources said, there is no existence of any office of the World Hindu Struggle Committee in the afore-mentioned address.

I am not sure if Shipan Kumer Basu also had Richard Benkin in his ‘World Hindu Struggle Committee’, but it was confirmed that Basu was very much associated with Benkin’s ‘Interfaith Strength’, even when his and Mendi Safadi’s names surfaced in the Bangladesh media.

By the way, Wikipedia profile of Benkin says, “Richard Benkin is an American human rights activist, journalist, writer and lecturer. He has been a member of Folks Magazine’s editorial board since August 2011”.

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research-scholar, counterterrorism specialist and editor of Blitz. He regularly writes for local and international newspapers on diversified topics, including international relations, politics, diplomacy, security and counterterrorism. Follow him on 'X' @Salah_Shoaib

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