• Sunday, December 21, 2014

Freedom in the air

Ghost of Al Capone in the country?

Shahnoor Wahid

THE way Mafia style killings are going on in the country for the control of illegal businesses, it may not sound too incredulous to say that soon things are bound to go out of control of the administration, like it did for the governments in many countries of the world. USA, Mexico, Italy, Brazil, Russia, had bad experience with such criminal gangs, and at one point law enforcers had to go all-out to crush them. Everywhere a strong nexus of corrupt police officials, administration bigwigs and politicians made it possible for various gangs to operate right before the eye of the law.
Racketeering, counterfeiting, human trafficking, weapons trafficking, drug trafficking, extortion, illegal gambling, murder, prostitution, blackmailing, loan sharking, money laundering, fraud, contract killing, bribery, cigarette smuggling, robbery, tax evasion, kidnapping for ransom, offering protection for money, bootlegging, dealing in contraband foreign goods, running prostitution joints etc., were some of the “businesses” that made the gangs and their bosses filthy rich in a couple of years. To keep control, gang fights leading to multiple murders were just as common as taking breakfast in the morning. Knives, machetes, revolvers, pistols and sub-machine guns were their favourite weapons to annihilate each other.
The boisterous lifestyle and tragic end of some of the underworld leaders in the US became hot topic of a number of Hollywood movies in the sixties. Al Capone is one such underworld boss who created a niche for himself in the crime almanac. A movie has been made on his life as well.
Who was Capone? Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone, (January 17, 1899-January 25, 1947), was an American gangster who led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate. The Chicago Outfit, which subsequently also became known as the "Capones," was dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and other illegal activities, such as prostitution, in Chicago from the early 1920s to 1931.
Born in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City to Italian immigrants, Capone became involved with gang activity at a young age after having been expelled from school at age 14. In his early twenties, he moved to Chicago to take advantage of a new opportunity to make money smuggling illegal alcoholic beverages into the city during Prohibition. He also engaged in various other criminal activities, including bribery of government figures and prostitution.
Despite his illegitimate occupation, Capone became a highly visible public figure. He made donations to various charitable endeavours using the money he made from his activities. Capone's public reputation was damaged in the wake of his supposed involvement in the 1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, when seven rival gang members were executed. (Dear readers, it's 7 murders, remember?)
Capone was convicted on federal charges of tax evasion in 1931 and sentenced to federal prison; he was released on parole in 1939. His incarceration included a term at the then-new Alcatraz federal prison. In the final years of Capone's life, he suffered mental and physical deterioration due to late-stage neurosyphilis, which he had contracted in his youth. On January 25, 1947, he died from cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke. (Source: Internet)
Bangladesh “Mafia” gangs
The spate of murders across the country in the recent past, especially amongst members of the same gang (party), is believed to be the result of intense rivalry over possession and control of the sources of illegal businesses. It's about earning crores of takas every month hence no human life is of any importance to the rival gangs. The killing style in all the recent cases reminded this writer of the style followed by the Mafia gangs.
Here is the story of a real life Mafia style killing in the US. “On April 18, 1980, Philadelphia Mafia consigliere Antonio Caponigro had Angelo Bruno killed without the The Commission's approval. Caponigro and his brother-in-law Alfred Salerno were taken to an isolated house in upstate New York and tortured before being killed. Salerno had been shot three times behind the right ear and once behind the left ear. The autopsy showed that a rope had been tied around his neck, wrists, and ankles, and most of his neck and face bones shattered. Caponigro had been suffocated, beaten, repeatedly stabbed and shot, and was found in a garbage bag.” (Ring a bell?)
Oftentimes, criminals and criminal gangs infiltrate the political power of the day to find shelter and protection. In return they send fat envelops to some of the key figures of the party every month. With such protection ensured they keep amassing the ill-gotten wealth and become more and more violent in their dealing. As days go by, the number of dead bodies keep piling up on the trail. History tells us that when they fall ultimately they take many political people down with them.
In Bangladesh, we observe with great trepidation, the ever growing nexus between such criminals and some criminal minded politicians to the peril of the political parties supporting both. Saner minds in society have been sending warning signals regularly to the party chiefs about the consequence of such unholy alliance but none seems to have time or patience to listen. Criminality has penetrated the inner sanctum of political institutions and is eating them from inside.
Therefore, unless the ghost of Al Capone is driven away from politics by setting examples of good governance, we may see many more '7-murders' in the coming days.
 

The writer is Special Supplements Editor, The Daily Star.

Published: 12:00 am Monday, June 16, 2014

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