Moulana Motiur Rahman Nizami was born on 31 March 1943 in the Pabna District. Since 1971, this district was territory of the independent state of Bangladesh. He attended the University of Dhaka, from which he graduated in 1967.
As a student, he led the Islamic Chhatra Sangha, a student movement linked to Jaamat-e-Islami, an extreme right Pakistani Islamic party.
During the Bangladesh national liberation war of 1971, Nizami was opposed to the independence from Pakistan. The war is known for the high number of atrocities reportedly committed by the Pakistani Army and allied militias against the Bengali population, and especially against the Hindu minority.
During the war and the surrounding events, Nizami was allegedly the supreme commander of the militia known as Al-Badr, which is said to have committed many atrocities during the war of 1971. Nizami was said to have planned and directed attacks carried out on 24 or 25 April and 8 May 1971 by members of a militia and the Pakistani Army, during which different civilians suspected of having supported freedom fighters were killed and raped.
– On 10 May 1971: the Pakistani army and members of a militia, under the alleged supervision of Nizami, reportedly killed 450 civilians and raped about 30 to 40 women.
– On 4 June 1971, a person perceived to be a supporter of the independence of Bangladesh was taken by Pakistani forces to an army camp in Pabna town, where he was severely tortured and subsequently killed. Nizami was allegedly present during this event.
– On 30 August 1971, Nizami, in his function of president of Islami Chhatra Sangha and head of the Al-Badr Bahini, visited an army camp in Dhaka. Nizami allegedly ordered the Pakistani Army Captain to kill all the detainees before the proclamation of the general amnesty by the President. In the same month Nizami was said to have ordered the local militia to destroy the houses in the village of Sonatala of those persons allegedly involved in the Liberation War.
– On 27 November 1971, Nizami was said to have raided the village of Dhulaura together with the Pakistani forces and a local militia. A number of villagers were killed by gunshots. After the departure of the Pakistani forces, Nizami and his militia allegedly caught twenty other civilians and killed them at the bank of the Isamoti River.
– On 3 December 1971, the Pakistani Army attacked the village of Brishalikha, allegedly based on information provided by Nizami. They killed 70 Hindus and destroyed 72 houses.
– On the last days of the war, around 14 December 1971, Nizami, as president of Islami Chhatra Sangha and head of Al-Badr Bahinian, reportedly mounted an extensive and selective killing campaign against the most notable Bengali intellectuals.
After the independence of Bangladesh, between 1991 and 1996 Nizami was a member of the Bangladeshi Parliament, elected in the district of Pabna-1. In 2000 he became the new chief (also known as ‘Ameer’) of Jaamat-e-Islam, succeeding Ghulam Azam.
In the elections of 2001 Jaamat-e-Islam won 18 seats in the Bangladeshi Parliament, and took part to the formation of the new government. Nizami held the office of Minister of Agriculture from 2001 to 2003, and subsequently the office of Minister of Industries between 2003 and 2006.
In July 2010 the Prosecutor of the Bangladeshi International Crimes Tribunal opened an investigation into Nizami’s involvement in the 1971 massacres. Nizami was arrested on 2 August 2010.