Saturday, December 31, 2005

Amnesty International condemns custodial deaths in Bangladesh

photo: Bangladesh born Amnesty International's Secretary General Ms Irene Khan-courtesy Prothom Alo http://www.prothom-alo.net

Dhaka, December 29, 2005 3:06:43 PM IST
Amnesty International, the world's largest human right watchdog, on Wednesday severely criticized Bangladesh for custodial deaths and its attempts to justify those deaths in the name of curbing terrorism.

"I hate to call it crossfire, what the rapid action battalion attributes for the custodial deaths, as there must be two parties in any such incident. But the reality is the just found body of the victim," Irene Khan, the Secretary General, of the organisation told journalists.

Khan, the first Bangladeshi national to lead the organisation, said the government had responsibilities to maintain the law and order, but at the same time the persons guilty have the rights to defend them in the court of justice.

The law enforcers in Bangladesh killed as many as 460 people, whom the law enforcers brand as criminals, since an elite anti-crime force come into being in June 2004. Human right groups in home and abroad condemned the lawmen's actions to kill the people in the name of 'encounter or crossfire'.

The two phrases are synonymous to 'criminals' deaths' now in Bangladesh. The latest crossfire took place on Tuesday in southern Khulna district, according to newspaper reports.

"Shoot to kill can not be the solution to crimes and it might boomerang,' Irene said asking the Bangladesh government to conduct an independent inquiry into the killings.

Earlier, the government of Khaleda Zia conducted departmental enquiry into almost all the crossfire deaths, and the reports found hardly any official in the law enforcers guilty of right violation.

Replying to a query, the Amnesty chief said that her organisation was aware of the incidents of violation of rights of people in the minority communities, and harassment on political opponents.

She urged the government and opposition political parties remain alert against violation of human rights, centering the next general elections.

She recalled the description of human rights violation by a teenaged girl after the 2001 general elections. "None in her neighbourhood protested against the crime as she was from minority community and it should not be done," Khan told the conference by the Youth Ending Hunger.

About 500 grassroots organisers, mostly students, are attending the two-day conference.

Irene shared her experiences of growing up of herself asking the youths to continue their effort to change the nation.

"You have to be leaders of present time, not of future as all the changes across the globe were done by youths including the liberation of Bangladesh," she said.
She urged them to work of establishing the human rights saying, 'If we do not uphold others' rights our rights will not be upheld.'

The powerful nations violated the rights of others' and that brought sufferings for them, she added. #

- source: ANI

Friday, December 30, 2005

Bangladesh haven for Islamic terror network

By Chris Blackburn*

In the present debate over terrorism threats, Bangladesh is generally not the first country that comes to mind as a hotspot of al-Qaeda activity. But perhaps it should. The second largest Muslim democracy, Bangladesh is today the site of al-Qaeda-run training camps financed by Middle Eastern charities and organisations, including backing from rogue elements within the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. Just as important, it is a laboratory for the disastrous consequences of Islamist participation in the democratic process.

Bangladesh’s geography makes it an optimal location for a terrorist network. Smaller than the state of Iowa, Bangladesh is also perfectly designed for guerrilla warfare, a stark contrast to al-Qaeda’s former safe haven in Afghanistan. Dense jungle and highly populated urban areas give Islamist terrorists and their supports excellent protective cover to conduct their trade, allowing them to hide their training and operations from sophisticated surveillance while shielding them from the threat of capture. Operating in this labyrinthine environment, terrorist trainees have developed elaborate escape and evasion plans.

Natural protections afforded by Bangladesh have made the country a popular destination for radicals Islamist of different stripes. Indian intelligence and government officials have publicly stated that 172 Islamist militant camps are currently operating in Bangladesh. Camps situated in the country are believed to house activists from Jemaah Islamiyah, the Indonesian terrorist group responsible for the Bali bombings and other atrocities. Pakistani groups such as Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed, both with links to al-Qaeda, are also believed to be operating in the country. The recent suicide bombings in Delhi and Hyderabad (India) were both believed to have had connections to Bangladesh and the ISI supported networks; recent arrests have shown this to be the case.

As a result, India has recently increased its troop deployment on the border with Bangladesh by 100 percent. Calls for action in the Indian media are growing louder. This could help to create another tense standoff between India and Pakistan, and the added threat of a nuclear confrontation looks like it could develop over the horizon. Previously, analysts in the region thought that Kashmir would be the main flashpoint for any further escalation in tension between the two nuclear neighbours. Now Bangladesh seems like the most likely candidate for the dubious distinction.

Fears of terrorism are particularly acute in Bangladesh. Recently, the country celebrated its 34th independence day. Casting a dark shadow over the celebrations, however, is the fact that the nation is in a grip of panic, and many fear anarchy will prevail.

Their concerns are well founded. Suicide bombers have taken to targeting law courts and government buildings. This new tactic of suicide bombing follows on the heels of reports that Bangladeshi police suspected some 2000 suicide bombers were ready to go operational. In August, 500 bombs were exploded simultaneously throughout the country in what was seen as a trial run for the terrorists.

The latest attacks show a devastating capability for murder and a heretofore-unseen sophistication. The opposition Awami League politicians have been targeted for assassination. Shah AMS Kibria, a senior Awami League politician and former under Secretary-General of the United Nations, was murdered by a grenade blast in one of these terrorist attacks earlier this year. Journalists have been threatened with their lives by Islamist groups seeking to suppress reports of their activities and patronage.

But the terrorists’ ambitions extend beyond the ongoing murder spree. The perpetrators believe that democracy should be overthrown by Sharia law and aspire to turn the second biggest Muslim democracy into an Islamist theocracy. Bangladesh, they claim, has become too westernised, like India. To achieve the vision of an Islamist state, they have sought to move beyond bombing and to make inroads into the Bangladeshi government.

Evidence of their success can already be detected. For instance, the Islamic Jamaat-e-Islami party is a coalition partner in Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's government. The party is founded on the principles of Maulana Maududi, who was a major figure in the international Islamist scene and he worked alongside the Arab dominated Muslim Brotherhood. The two ideologies have meshed and they borrow ideas from each other. They also set up complimentary research institutes. Azam Tamimi’s UK-based Institute of Islamic Political Thought is one such organisation; Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi and Khurshid Ahmed (Jamaat) both sit on its advisory board. Jamaat sided with Pakistan during the 1971 Liberation War and set up the notorious al-Badr forces that were responsible for helping and implementing the systematic genocide of up to 3 million Bangladeshi’s. They have supported the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Jamaat wants to create a theocracy in Bangladesh and eventually to remove the democratic elements it claims are a blasphemous western intrusion.

Despite its unambiguously extremist agenda, Jamaat has successfully established its influence in prominent Bangladeshi institutions. Thus the Islami Bank Bangladesh (IBBL) is controlled by the Jamaat; many of its leaders sit on its board. IBBL also controls the accounts of Middle Eastern charities, which have been tied to Islamist terrorism. The Al-Haramain charity, which has supported Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, has its accounts at the Islami bank. Bangladeshi and Indian intelligence have named 10 Islamic charities they believe are helping to finance and promote Islamist terrorism in Bangladesh; they are the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), Rabita Al-Alam Al-Islami, Society of Social Reforms, Qatar Charitable Society, Al-Muntada Al-Islami, International Islamic Relief Agency, Al-Forkan Foundation, International Relief Organization (IRO), Kuwait Joint Relief Committee and the Muslim Aid Bangladesh (UK).

Muslim Aid Bangladesh is part of Muslim Aid UK, which is run by individuals associated with the Islamic Foundation UK. The foundation’s ties to radical Islamists have been previously documented the BBC program “Panorama.” The foundation was set up by Khurshid Ahmed, a senior Jamaat leader. Iqbal Sacranie, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is a trustee of Muslim Aid UK and was formerly its chairman. Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) helped to found Muslim Aid and it has been alleged by European intelligence agencies that branches of Muslim Aid have provided help to jihadi fighters from Bosnia to Indonesia.

The Islamists’ recent entrance into Bangladesh’s political arena is not altogether unexpected. South Asian analysts have long observed that the country would be ripe for al-Qaeda, though little effort has been made to stop their development in and penetration of the country. Time magazine has been banned from reporting in the country since 2002. Alex Perry, its South Asia bureau chief, had published a piece exposing the government’s lack of response to the build-up of Islamist terrorists with links to al-Qaeda.

Political unrest is nothing new for the country. Bangladesh has been frequently scarred by dangerous and often bloody feuds between its political actors. The country was born in 1971, after the country’s liberation forces, with the aid of India’s military might, fought off the West Pakistani dictatorship of Yahya Khan to regain their and cultural and political independence. Today, however, the Bengali people feel that they are once again fighting for their survival and cultural identity.

The international community would be well advised to take note of the Islamist ascendance that presently imperils the country. Though Bangladesh is one the poorest nations in the world, it is strategically important to the U.S.-led “War on Terror.” This is why international pressure must be applied to the country. Bangladesh must be forced to dismantle the terrorist training and ideological infrastructure, something the current government has been unable to do effectively because its coalition partner is part of the problem.

The current crisis unfolding in Bangladesh must act as an early warning signal. It is a dark glimmer of what groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jamaat-e-Islami do once they become part of governments. Advocates of allowing Islamist parties to enter the democratic process must take notice: groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jamaat abuse their authority and dangerously push for greater powers and privileges which allow them to try and destroy democracy from within. Greater political responsibilities aren’t dissuading them from trying to violently implement Sharia law; they only embolden them. At the very least, recent developments in Bangladesh suggest that any serious discussion of counter terrorism strategy must include a country that for too long has been ignored. #

* Writer is a British researcher on Jihad & Islamic militancy globally based in London

For his other article: Is Bangladesh new front for America's War Against Terrorism? http://bangladeshwatchdog.blogspot.com/2005/12/is-bangladesh-new-front-for-americas.html

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Growing Fanaticsm and Extremism in Bangladesh

Growing Fanaticsm and Extremism in Bangladesh

Islamic Bombs & Reporters Without Borders

Bangladesh 27.12.2005
A wave of Islamist terror sweeps over Bangladeshi press at year’s end
http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=16041

Reporters Without Borders and the Bangladesh Centre for the Development of Journalism and Communication (BCDJC) voiced deep concern today about a mounting wave of Islamist terrorism in Bangladesh and its impact on the press. At least 50 journalists and 10 publications have been threatened by terrorist groups in the past four months over supposedly “anti-Islamic” articles yet the government seems unable to restore confidence in the face of this new danger for the media.

“After ignoring the terrorist threat for so long, the authorities now have a responsibility to come up with a response,” the two organisations said. “At stake is the safety of hundreds of threatened journalists who want to freely inform the public about the terrorism affecting their country. If the government fails to restore confidence among the journalists, investigative reports on jihadism will not be undertaken and self censorship will become the rule. We call on the authorities to establish a global plan for the protection of journalists and publications threatened by jihadist groups.

At least 55 journalists have received death threats since September from Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), an Islamist group that has also promised to blow up eight newspapers and three press clubs. The latest victim, Amar Desh advisory editor Ataus Samad, received a letter from JMB on 22 December that said his newspaper would be “the next target.”

“The more we investigate and criticise blind terrorism, the more we are exposed, and the government is partly responsible for this deterioration in our security,” Bangladesh Observer editor Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury told Reporters Without Borders and the BCDJC.

The Islamist groups have systematically developed their harassment of the press. The threats began in the northern Rajshahi region where JMB founder Bangla Bai has launched an embryonic armed struggle for the introduction of Islamic law. According to Dainik Sangbad correspondent Jahangir Alam Akash, who is also a stringer for the German radio station Deutsche Welle, most reporters in Rajshahi censor themselves for fear of becoming targets for the Islamists. “I no longer visit areas where Bangla Bai has been active because it is too risky,” he told BCDJC.

Most of the journalists targeted in September were Hindus. At least 12 of them were threatened for writing about the activities of Islamist groups while not being Muslims themselves. In October, the jihadists harassed at least seven local news media - especially in the regions where they are most active - as well as the independent daily Bhorer Kagoj.

Eleven journalists and at least four press clubs - above all in Tangail and Natore - received letters in November saying their premises would be bombed. In December, it was the turn of national dailies such as Prothom Alo and Dainik Shamokal to be threatened with possible suicide attacks, while a total of 19 journalists in Barisal and Gazipur received written threats.

News organisations and press clubs have stepped up security measures to protect themselves from a wave attacks against targets of all kinds in which at least 20 people have been killed. People entering the headquarters of most newspapers and the national press club in Dhaka now have to pass through metal detectors. Protective measures have been installed in some press premises in the southern city of Chittagong. Some newspaper editors, such as the managing editor of the independent daily Janakantha, now have private security.

Dainik Sangbad executive editor Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul confirmed that he was now taking extra precautions when he went out. A Prothom Alo journalist said measures had been taken against a possible attack.

The police have offered protection in some cases, but newspaper executives and editors usually turned it down on the grounds that it offered no guarantees. Just a few policemen with old rifles have been stationed outside a small number of newspapers and press clubs.

The secret services meanwhile continue to harass publications that carry embarrassing reports. On 22 December, for example, the National Security Intelligence chief summoned the editors of the private press agency BDNEWS after it revealed that the phones of some of the leaders of the ruling Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami were being tapped.

Since 2001, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s government has tried to gag the press in order to play down the rise of armed Islamist groups. In 2003, after a series of press reports about growing religious intolerance, Zia accused journalists of trying to damage Bangladesh’s image at home and abroad by publishing false information.

Several journalists, including former Reporters Without Borders correspondent Saleem Samad, were imprisoned in 2002 for writing about the emergence of jihadism. The same year, then interior minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury had a Reuters stringer arrested and tortured for reporting in a dispatch that a group linked to Al Qaeda could have been to blame for a cinema bombing.

In 2002, journalist and human rights activist Shahriar Kabir was the target of a smear campaign by several political parties - some of them in the government - in which he was branded as a “traitor” to Islam. One person was killed by Islamists during a demonstration in Chittagong against the release of a journalist. The authorities did nothing at the time to stop murderous appeals.

The authorities have also taken measures against foreign news media that tackled this subject. Distribution of the April 2002 issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review was, for example, banned because it contained a report about Bangladesh entitled “A cocoon of terror.”

Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has representatives in Abidjan, Bangkok, London, Moscow, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has more than 120 correspondents worldwide.

© Reporters Without Borders 2005

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bangladesh: Next terror frontier?

by Ramananda Sengupta
Rediff.com, December 19, 2005

Increasing infiltration across the border. Terrorists sneaking into India. Regular skirmishes with men in uniform on the other side.

This is not Pakistan we are talking about. In recent times, another neighbour has swiftly emerged as a major security concern for India.

Rediff India Abroad Deputy Managing Editor Ramananda Sengupta visited Bangladesh recently looking for answers to the big question: Why is such trouble brewing on India's Eastern Front?

'Government has accorded top priority to erection of a fence along the Indo-Bangladesh border to check infiltration, smuggling and all anti-India activities from across the border.'
-- President A P J Abdul Kalam, addressing a joint session of Parliament, February 25.

'We have specific information with us about the large-scale presence of the ISI and some terrorist organisations inside Bangladesh, which are sheltering and training Indian terrorists of various hues.'
-- Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee at a press conference after inaugurating the Indian Army's strategic broadband satellite service network at Fort William, Kolkata, August 7.

Ever since its independence from Pakistan in December 1971, Bangladesh and India have been locked in a love-hate relationship.

The initial gratitude over India's assistance to the Mukti Bahini -- the guerrilla force which fought the Pakistan army -- quickly turned into distrust in Dhaka, particularly after Generals Zia-ur Rahman (1975 to 1981) and Hossain Mohammad Ershad (1982 to 1990) wooed the fundamentalist, anti-independence and pro-Pakistan lobby to retain their grip on power.

Chief among these pro-Pakistan organisations was the Jamaat-e-Islami, which is part of the four-party alliance currently in power. The ruling coalition is led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party Leader Khaleda Zia, Zia-ur Rahman's widow. The general was assassinated in 1981.

Till the late 1990s, India's main concerns with Bangladesh involved the massive illegal migration, which among other things radically changed the demography of neighbouring Indian states like Assam, and the fact that anti-government rebels in the northeast states found refuge on Bangladeshi soil.

Before Bangladesh's independence, Mizo and Naga rebels were trained and sheltered in the Chittagong Hill Tracts by the Pakistan army.

There were also violent spats over patches of the the 4,096-kilometre border, 180 km of which is marked by rivers that keep changing their course. Conflicting claims to ownership of the Muhurichar Island in South Tripura's Belonia subdivision led to clashes between the Indian Border Security Force and the Bangladesh Rifles in 1975, 1979 and 1985.

Dhaka consistently denies all charges of illegal migration and the presence of Indian rebels on its soil, and accuses India of playing hardball over water sharing and sheltering criminals wanted in Bangladesh.

Post 9/11 and the United States-led War on Terror, many fundamentalist outfits under the American scanner found Bangladesh an easy country to disappear in. The huge amount of foreign aid flowing into the country also made money laundering relatively easy.

Charities in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan known to have Al Qaeda connections are among the major donors to Bangladeshi non-governmental organisations, and a large chunk of that money is used to fund madrassas which spawn willing recruits to the jihadi cause.

In 2001, Khaleda Zia returned to power for the second time on an essentially anti-India platform -- her predecessor Hasina Wajed -- whose late father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was independent Bangladesh first President -- and her Awami League were tagged as pro-India.

The presence of the pro-Pakistan Jamaat and Islami Oikya Jote in Khaleda Zia's government ensured that the Pakistan high commission in Dhaka became, in the words of one Indian diplomat, "an ISI den".

The nexus between Pakistani and Bangladeshi intelligence is hardly new. Several activists of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom arrested in India admitted that batches of ULFA cadres were flown to Pakistan from Dhaka for training by the ISI.

"The ISI started re-growing its roots in Dhaka during Khaleda's earlier stint, from 1991 to 1996," the Indian diplomat says. "But despite her being marked as pro-India, or perhaps because of it, Hasina Wajed is no worse. You must remember that the worst border clash between the two countries occurred in April 2001, barely two months before the election which brought down her government."

The rapid rise in fundamentalism in Bangladesh and its growing nexus with Pakistan's ISI has added to India's concerns over its eastern neighbour.

The crackdown on minorities by the ruling coalition's goons soon after it assumed power in 2001 led to a spike in migration to India, and officials note that these migrants comprised not just Hindus and Christians fleeing persecution, but also Muslim activists of the Opposition Awami League, who were being targeted by the ruling clique.

"God alone knows how many of these migrants are actually ISI agents," mutters one Indian official.

The leeway given to fundamentalists has already started to hurt the government in Dhaka, with judges and government officials being bombed by radicals who are demanding Muslim rule in the country.

Indian officials, while wary of being accused of interference in Bangladesh's internal politics, note that both the Jamaat and the Islami Oikya Jote have been virulently anti-Indian. The Jamaat, for instance, accuses India's external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, of being behind the recent spate of blasts in Bangladesh, despite the Jamaat'ul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a radical outfit outlawed in early February, claiming responsibility for most of the terrorism.

The main jihadi groups active in Bangladesh are the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, the Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh and the Jamaat'ul Mujahideen Bangladesh. All three are known to have close ties with the Jamaat and Islami Oikya Jote.

"Why do you think activists of these supposedly outlawed outfits are released within days, if not hours of their arrest?" asks a taxi driver in Dhaka.

But if Indian officials are diffident about accusing Bangladesh of fomenting trouble, BSF Director General R S Mooshahary candidly told journalists in Delhi on November 30, that 'Bangladesh will soon pose a bigger problem than Pakistan.' According to him, the India-Bangladesh border is more difficult to man than the India-Pakistan border. 'At the Pakistan border, both the army and the BSF are deployed, whereas the India-Bangladesh border is manned solely by the BSF,' he pointed out.

Expressing concern over the continuing illegal migration into the northeast, Mooshahary said: 'I've sought the home ministry's permission to raise a women's battalion to deal with infiltrators, many of whom are women.'

Asked about the repeated provocative moves by the Bangladesh Rifles, including the killing of BSF officers like Assistant Commandant Jeevan Kumar earlier this year, Mooshahary angrily rebutted the charge that the BSF was a 'soft' force, saying it had to behave 'responsibly.'

'We cannot always work by eye-for-an-eye principle. They (the Bangladesh Rifles) will not repeat it (such murders). If they repeat, they know the consequences,' he warned.

India has presented concrete evidence about at least 172 terrorist camps being run in Bangladesh, and the presence of at least 307 'wanted people', including top ULFA leaders Paresh Baruah and Arvind Rajkhowa, in the country, he said. But 'Dhaka has denied their presence without verifying the details given to them.' #

link: http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/dec/19bspec.htm

War on Terror in Bangladesh

photos: Most Bangladeshi Muslims practice Sufism. They explain that they are in transition in this present world. They live a modest life for an exciting life after death. Recent spate of bombing in the shrines of Sufi saints by Islamic militants threatens the secular space of Sufi culture -in ancient Bengal (photo credit: Saiful Wadud Helal, filmmaker: Color of Faith http://saleemsamad.blogspot.com/2005/12/color-of-faith-screened-in-bangladesh.html)

Counterfeit War on Terror in Bangladesh

Bibhu Prasad Routray
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

On November 14, two Assistant Judges of the Jhalakathi District, Jagannath Pandey and Sohel Ahmed, on the way to their Courts, were bombed to death by a katel (killer) squad member of the Jama’at-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (for background see link below). The assassin, Mamun Ali, was caught by the locals and handed over to the police. The incident, the first of its kind in the country, is yet another stage in a progressive unravelling, and dramatically undermines the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led coalition’s efforts to inveigle the world into believing that, by proscribing a few terrorist groups and the arrest of a few hundred alleged ‘militants’, the country has established a firm grip over its slide into chaos.

The August 17, 2005, bombings, the high point of terrorist mobilisation across the country, led to an ostensibly frantic search for the JMB Chief Abdur Rahman and the Jagrata Janata Muslim Bangladesh (JMJB) commander Bangla Bhai, backed by a Government reward of US $152,000 for information leading to their arrests. Both the leaders have been able to elude the ‘long’ arm of the law, though some 300 non-descript Islamist militants have been arrested from various districts across the country. Reports indicated that Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel came close to arresting Abdur Rahman in Dhaka’s Banashree area on November 19 after receiving a ‘vital input’, but he escaped following what is believed to have been a tip-off from an official source.

In the meantime, reports indicate that the JMB has raised a 2,000 strong suicide cadre, even as the katel group compiles dossiers on potential targets, including members of the RAB. These developments have evidently sent tremors through Dhaka – despite the Government’s long record of cover-ups and denial. State Minister for Home Affairs, Lutfozzaman Babor, who denied the existence of the JMB and the JMJB in January 2005, finally acknowledged the problem in a statement on November 17, declaring, "This has made the Government worried (sic)".

Despite the spike in terrorist activities in Bangladesh over the past months, it is evident that the death squads remain grossly underutilized, and the August 17 incidents are a pointer to the spread and capacity that the terrorists have consolidated across the country. Over the past three months, there have been a significant number of threats issued against government offices, newspaper houses, law-enforcers, the judiciary and political activists. The militants have mixed into the general population, posing as hawkers and petty traders, or simply working as rickshaw-pullers, making them an invisible and ubiquitous enemy even as they prepare for the next wave of terrorist strikes.

Mamun Ali’s interrogation has revealed interesting facets of the dynamics of terrorist mobilisation in Bangladesh. His confessional statement, recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, discloses that some of the suicide and death squad members have been trained in Afghanistan. Mamun himself had joined the outfit in year 2000 and was soon co-opted into its death squad. Many of the katel members are reported to have been recruited from the families of militant cadres killed in separate encounters by the RAB, exploiting their inherent desire for vengeance against the enforcement agencies. Compact discs seized from the JMB hideout in the Banashree area of Dhaka on November 22 contained details of several ‘encounters’ across the country, as also personal information of many RAB personnel, indicating that the JMB has plans to strike at the RAB. The family of each suicide bomber has been promised Taka 50,000 to 100,000 or more as compensation for their ‘sacrifice’. With generous funding continuing to flow in from foreign sources, securing the loyalty of the katel squad members has been rather easy for the JMB.

The financial resources at the disposal of the militants are enormous. Intelligence sources suggest that JMB spends roughly Taka six million a year for maintaining its full-time leaders and cadres, and Taka ten to fifty million for buying explosives and firearms, and operational costs. Little has been done by the Government to disrupt the uninterrupted flow of such funds from organisations like the Kuwait-based Revival of Islamic Heritage Society. More than two months after the August 17 blasts, JMB leaders continue to transact through several of their Bank accounts throughout the country. Chequebooks recovered from the JMB’s Rangpur hideout on November 23 revealed that the outfit has recently withdrawn Taka 9,00,000 from three accounts with two banks – Al Arafa Islami Bank, Dhaka, and the Bogra Bazar Branch of Sonali Bank in the Bogra District.

The official response to the growing tentacles of Islamist radicalism has been rather unique. Following the November 14 judges’ killings, the Government circulated a compilation of four verses from the Holy Quran and the Hadith to the media offices. The Arabic verses followed by translations in Bengali – advocating moderation and condemning violence in general, and particularly violence against fellow-Muslims, as well as fitna or anarchy – appeared to be a principal component of the official counter-campaign against the violent religious fanaticism. But the Government’s proclivity to fall back on Islamic verses runs the danger of reinforcing radical Islamist mobilisation, rather than devising a response to it.

The enormity of the problem and the corresponding lack of capabilities among law enforcers to deal with them is, however, not the most significant component of the regime’s failure. The BNP’s stubborn resistance to take its coalition partner, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), to task was evident in its November 24 decision to strip party law-maker Abu Hena, the MP from Bagmara in Rajshahi district, of party membership for speaking against the Jamaat. Hena had linked the rise of the extremists with that of the Jamaat.

With only 17 seats out of the 300 in the Jatiya Sangsad (National Assembly) and two ministers in the Union Cabinet, the Jamaat has engineered a slow but steady rise in national politics. Speaking on April 30, 2005, the JeI Chief, Matiur Rahman Nizami, said that his party had achieved its ‘short-term goal’ of coming into mainstream politics and asked his party colleagues to now work to achieve the ‘long-term programme’ to turn Bangladesh into an Islamic State.
The Islami Chattra Shibir (the student wing of the JeI) has wrested control of the students’ union of the Rajshahi University, the second largest university in the country, replacing the BNP’s student wing. Soon after the election in April, Shahdat-al-Hiqma, the militant group that was proscribed in February 2002, pasted 5,000 posters on the walls of the University’s buildings, asking students to "take up arms to eradicate injustice". Considerable Islamist mobilisation has also been reported from Khulna University in November 2005. The Jamaat is making inroads into the bureaucracy as well. Among others, Sarfaraj Hossain, the Home Secretary, is reported to have Jamaat connections. Many of the arrested cadres of the JMB have told their interrogators that their activities went unnoticed because they enjoyed the blessings of local officers who, in turn, were influenced by Jamaat leaders.

The Jamaat is umbilically linked with the Islamist extremists in Bangladesh, and this nexus is very well documented. It not a matter of coincidence that many JMB cadres, including the arrested death squad cadre, Mamun, share a Jamaat or a Shibir past. Intelligence officials, in the last week of October 2005, spoke of the existence of a decade-long Islamist militant strategy, adopted in 1998, to prepare an atmosphere compatible with an Islamic revolution in Bangladesh. Jamaat’s ‘long-term programme’, by all indications, bears an uncanny resemblance with this ‘decade-long plan’. The irony is that the extremists are able to piggyback on one of the mainstream political parties, the BNP, whose long term-existence they directly threaten.

With significant and continuous official patronage, Islamist extremism is assuming monstrous proportions in Bangladesh, and the state remains grossly inept in its efforts to contain this growth. A mere and belated acknowledgement of the existence of the problem will no more make it go away than years of denial did. Bangladesh will have to go well beyond its current ‘thus far and no further’ approach, and its strategies based on the publication of scriptural texts, to rein in the forces of terror. Regrettably, official initiatives suggest that the Government is yet to decide on such a course of action. #

link: http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/sair/Archives/3_33.htm#ASSESSMENT2

JMB: http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/bangladesh/terroristoutfits/JMJB.htm

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ban Jihadi terrorist outfit Jamaat-e-Islami

file photo: Home-grown Islamic vigilante foot soldier fugitive Siddiqul Islam alias "Bangla Bhai" (left), leader of outlawed Jamaat'ul Mujahideen, Bangladesh (JMB)

New York based Bangladesh Human Rights Watch has urged Dr. Condoleeza Rice, US Department of State to ban & enlist Jamaat-e-Islami as a terror network outfit in a letter on 23 December 2005.

The petition argues that Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) is a radical Islamist movement which operates in South Asia- mainly Pakistan and Bangladesh. JI wants to implement Sharia law throughout the Islamic world. JI has been heavily financed by Saudi Arabia and Gulf States and works alongside Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwhan), Deobandi and Wahhabi movements. This combination of Islamist groups has jointly created religious, charitable and educational institutions throughout the world with the aim of forwarding radical Islamism.

Signed by Dr. Mohsin Ali, President, Ratan Kumar Barua, Secretary General, Sitangshu Guha, Director, Mohammed Ali Siddiqui, Director, Fahim Reza Nur, Director, and Paul Bala, Directoralso send copies to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anon, Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, leader of the opposition Shiekh Hasina, Amnesty Interntional secretary general Irene Khan.

The JI movement is prepared to implement its policies through the use of terrorism and intimidation. The JI both in Pakistan and Bangladesh publicly supported the Taliban regime before the US invasion and also supported them after they had been removed during Operation Enduring Freedom. It has been reported that remnants of the Taliban and its supporters have been getting direct support from the JI. Russian Security Service (FSB) notified their US counterparts that the JI would most probably have been involved in the 9/11 attacks these assertions were proved to be correct when 9/11 mastermind and Mustafa Ahmed Hawsawi, the lead financier of the 9/11 plot were arrested in the homes of JI leaders in Pakistan. Russian and Indian intelligence has directly linked JI to fundraising and training for militants in Chechnya In February 2003, the Russian Supreme Court blacklisted the Jamaat-e-Islami (Pakistan) because of its support and financing of international terrorism, Al-Qaeda leaders and operatives such as Yasir Al-Jazeeri and Ahsan Aziz in Pakistan.


JI leaders have been involved in providing shelter and accommodation to Al-Qaeda and Taliban members. There have been high profile arrests of JI members such as the Khawaja brothers and Dr. Arshad and Dr. Akmal Waheed for directly harbouring and providing aid to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban; which has further consolidated the connection between the JI and terrorism Dr. Alexis debate, a former advisor to the French Ministry of Defence and senior terrorism consultant for ABC News, said that he had been taken to a safe house operated by the JI near Peshawar, Pakistan. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden's deputy and spiritual mentor, had been using the safe house for over four years.Debatet also said that there were definite connections between the groups very clear, non-institutional but very clear link between Jamaat-e-Islami all the way down to Al Qaeda.

The student wings of the JI both in Bangladesh and Pakistan are directly involved in militancy. The Islami Chattra Shibir (ICS) is the student wing of the JI Bangladesh and has been involved in terrorism; some ICS members were believed to have been sent to train with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. ICS haven't tried to conceal their links and have rallied in the support of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda chanting such slogan, as "We will all be Taliban and Bangladesh will be Afghanistan," the petitioners said.

The JI also believes in nuclear proliferation and that countries such as India and the US should be countered. Khurshid Ahmed, a senior leader of JI, has stressed that Pakistan should not be stopped from creating nuclear capabilities either for itself or for the Muslim Ummah. He goes on to say that all international conventions concerning nuclear testing and proliferation should be ignored.

Recently Bangladesh has been terrorized by series of bomb attacks launched by the Islamic militants who wanted to implement Islamic Sharia Laws in Bangladesh. Their objectives are same to that of the written manifesto of Jamaat-e-Islami. These Islamic Jihadi's are killing the judges, secular personalities, lawyers and innocent people. They are threatening secular personalities, opposition leaders, schools, colleges and institutions. They are also asking the women of all religions to wear head-to-toe veils and threatening them to death.

On August 17, 2005, about 500 bombs were blasted in 63 districts within half-an-hour apart. Since then there were few dozens of bomb attacks in different parts of the country and about hundred people were killed and a few hundreds were injured. Although Government of BNP-Jamaat arrested several hundreds of bomb attackers and seized many weapons, bombs and bombs making materials, we believe the Government's actions are not enough. These actions are just eyewash to please the people of Bangladesh and the international community.

As we know through the media that hundreds of arrested bombers and their cohorts were released under the pressure of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders as they were directly linked to the Jamaat-e-Islami. Every single arrested bomber and their cohorts claimed themselves to be the former members of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chattra Shibir. Many of them do still belong to these parties. Dr. Galib (leader of Ahle Hadith Movement), Bangla Bhai and Shiekh Abdur Rahman and other terrorist leaders are the former Rokons (District Leaders) of Jamaat-e-Islami. Maulana Zafry, a Jamaat-e-Islami central leader once accompanied top terrorist leader Shiekh Abdur Rahman in a meeting in Bhola district just a few months ago. Many BNP lawmakers are directly blaming Jamaat-e-Islami as the father of all terrorists in Bangladesh.

Therefore, Jamaat-e-Islami should be added to the US terrorism list because of its direct support for terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and its affiliates. It should also be listed because of its support for nuclear proliferation. Jamaat-e-Islami poses a direct and serious threat to the United States and its allies.

The social justice activists appealed to Dr Rice and the conscience of the peoples, governments and human rights institutions, including the United Nations, for immediate actions to ban and enlist Jamaat-e-Islami as a militant terrorist organization and eliminate Jamaat-e-Islami by eliminating the sources of its finances and military supports. #


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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is Bangladesh new front for America's War Against Terrorism?

Crisis in South Asia
By Chris Blackburn*

Bangladesh is the new front in the US War on Terrorism and the US doesn't have a say on it. The recent disclosure that Al-Qaeda and it's supporters are being trained by Pakistani ISI in 172 militant camps shows that has become the new Afghanistan. A failure to deal with it will show that September 10th syndrome has really set in.

Chart: Orchestrated country-wide bombing by suspected home-grown Islamic vigilantes on/courtesy-Daily Star

Al-Qaeda is operating in a country with training camps and with ideological and financial support from Middle East based charities and organisations; it is believed that the terrorist group and its supporters are also receiving backing from rogue elements within the Pakistani ISI. Does this sound familiar? The question is why has this been allowed to happen and why has it happened so quickly?

The country in question is Bangladesh, the second largest Muslim democracy. Bangladesh is slightly smaller than Iowa and unlike Afghanistan, which was the former safe haven for Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda; is perfectly designed for guerrilla warfare. The country has dense jungle and highly populated urban areas which give Islamist terrorists and their supports excellent cover and protection to conduct their evil trade in intimidation and murder. Bangladesh is covered in jungle which allows radical Islamists to hide their training and operations from sophisticated surveillance and helps to protect them from the threat of capture- elaborate escape and evasion plans are enforced.

South Asian analysts have long noted that the country would be ripe for Al-Qaeda but little effort has been made to stop their development and penetration of the country. Time magazine has been banned from reporting in the country since 2002. Alex Perry, its South Asia bureau chief, ran a piece exposing the governmentÂ’s lack of response to the build up of Islamist terrorists with links to Al-Qaeda. The Bangladeshi governmentÂ’s inability to take the criticism constructively has also been a worry.

Indian intelligence and government officials have publicly stated that up to 172 Islamist militant camps are currently operating in Bangladesh, some of these camps are believed to house activists from Jemaah Islamiyah, the Indonesian terrorist group responsible for the Bali bombings and other atrocities. Pakistani groups such as Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed, both with links to Al-Qaeda are also believed to be operating in the country.

The recent suicide bombings in Delhi and Hyderabad (India) were both believed to have had connections to Bangladesh and the ISI supported networks; recent arrests by Indian authorities have shown this to be the case. India has recently increased its troop deployment on the border with Bangladesh by 100% as a result of the escalating threat from Islamist terrorists. There have been calls in the Indian media for action and they have been growing louder. This new front could help to create another tense stand-off between India and Pakistan; the added threat of a nuclear confrontation looks like it could develop over the horizon. Analysts who specialise in the region thought that Kashmir would be the main flashpoint and trigger for any further escalation in tension between the two nuclear neighbours.

Bangladesh has recently celebrated its 34th independence day, however the celebrations have been marred because the nation is in a grip of panic and many fear anarchy will prevail. Suicide bombs have targeted law courts and government buildings; people are beginning to lose faith in law and order and the institutions that are designed to protect them. The opposition Awami league politicians have been targeted for assassination; mainly because they have been warning of the dangers of the rising threat and they stand against radical Islamism. Shah AMS Kibria, a senior Awami League politician and former under Secretary-General of the United Nations, was murdered by a grenade blast in one such terrorist attack earlier this year. Journalists and reporters have also been threatened with their lives by Islamist groups who donÂ’t want them to reporting on their activities and patronage of the terrorists. The perpetrators believe that democracy should be overthrowShariaariah law and an Islamist theocracy; they also believe that the country is too westernised like India.

The new tactic of suicide bombing in Bangladesh has come shortly after reports that Bangladeshi police believed that up to 2000 suicide bombers were ready to go operational. In August 500 bombs were exploded simultaneously throughout the country in what was seen as a trial run for the terrorists. These attacks show devastating capability for murder and a sophistication not seen before.

Bangladesh is the second biggest Muslim democracy and has remained so even though the country has been scarred by dangerous and often bloody feuds between its political actors. The country was born in 1971 after the countries liberation forces, with the aid of IndiaÂ’s military might fought the West Pakistani dictatorship of Yahya Khan to regain their cultural and political independence. The Bengali people feel that they are once again fighting for their survival and Bengali identity. The country is mainly secular, like Turkey, and has a history of cultural and religious diversity. This month the country has endured its first series of suicide bombings and many fear that the spirit of the liberation has been eroded by those that always stood against it.

The Jamaat-i-Islami is a coalition partner in Khaleda ZiaÂ’s government. The party is founded on the principles of MMaududiMawdudi, who was a major figure in the international Islamist MaududiMawdudi worked alongside the Arab dominated Muslim Brotherhood. Said Ramadan, the father of Tariq Ramadan and the son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna lived in Karachi for a while. He helped the Jamaat-i-Islami set up and train their student groups. The two ideologies have meshed together and they borrow ideas from each Azam. Azzam TamimiÂ’s Institute of Islamic Political Thought (II-PT) which is based in the UK is one such organisation which was borne out of this close relationship. Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi and Khurshid Ahmed (Jamaat) both sit on the II-PT advisory board. The International Islamic Universities IIUÂ’s are also an example of the co-operation between the two ideologies.

Jamaat sided with Pakistan during the 1971 Liberation War and set up the notorious al-Badr forces that were responsible for helping and implementing the systematic genocide of up to 3 million BangladeshiÂ’s. They have supported the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Jamaat wants to create a theocracy in Bangladesh and wants to eventually remove democracy and elements it believes are westernised.

The Islami Bank Bangladesh (IBBL) is controlled by the Jamaat; many of its leaders sit on its board. IBBL also controls the accounts of Middle Eastern charities which have been tied to Islamist terrorism. The Al-Haramain charity which has supported Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups has its accounts at the Islami bank. Bangladeshi and Indian intelligence have named 10 Islamic charities they believe are helping to finance and promote Islamist terrorism in Bangladesh; they are the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), Rabita Al-Alam Al-Islami, Society of Social Reforms, Qatar Charitable Society, Al-Muntada Al-Islami, International Islamic Relief Agency, Al-Forkan Foundation, International Relief Organization (IRO), Kuwait Joint Relief Committee and Muslim Aid Bangladesh (UK)

Muslim Aid Bangladesh is part of Muslim Aid UK, which is run by persons associated with the Islamic Foundation UK. The foundation was mentioned in BBCÂ’s Panorama programme which documented its ties to radical Islamists in South Asia. The foundation was set up by Khurshid Ahmed, a senior Jamaat leader. Iqbal Sacranie, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is a trustee of Muslim Aid UK and was formerly its chairman. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) helped to found Muslim Aid and it has been alleged by European intelligence agencies that branches of Muslim Aid have provided help to jihadi fighters from Bosnia to Indonesia.

The country is one of the poorest in the world, however it is strategically important to the US led War on Terror. This is why international pressure must be applied to the country before the situation deteriorates further. Bangladesh must be forced to comply and dismantle the terrorist training camps and defeat the ideological infrastructure which turns young impressionable minds towards jihad. The current government has been unable to fight Islamist terrorism affectively because its coalition partner is part of the problem. The current crisis unfolding in Bangladesh must act as an early warning signal and is a glimmer of what groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jamaat-i-Islami do once they become part of governments. The advocates for allowing Islamist parties to enter governments must take notice- political/religious groups such as these abuse their authority and dangerously push for greater powers and privileges which allow them to try to destroy democracy from within- greater political responsibilities arenÂ’t dissuading them from trying to violentlShariament Shariah law- it just it just makes them bolder makes them bolder. #


* Writer is a British researcher on Jihad & Islamic militancy globally based in London

Monday, December 05, 2005

Jihadis threaten to cripple Bangladesh with suicide terrorism

photos: Relatives wail after dear ones died in bombing by Muslim Jihadis threatening Bangladesh secular political and social pattern

ISLAMISTS THREATEN TO CRIPPLE BANGLADESHI STATE WITH SUICIDE TERRORISM

by Anand Kumar

Islamists were junior partner in the last Bangladesh election which has brought a ruling coalition led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in power. But after hiding for four years in the garb of democracy Islamists of Bangladesh want to establish a government based on Sharia. These Islamists are aware that as of now they can not win enough seats in the parliament to achieve this aim through constitutional amendment. But at the same time they also believe that their cadre base has now become large enough to achieve this aim by terrorizing people. After attacking popular indigenous culture with impunity, Islamists are now taking on the state by their attack on judiciary and other law enforcers. The recent killing of two judges in Jhalakathi and threat to other law enforcers has been with this aim.
The outlawed Islamist outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) had launched near-simultaneous bomb attacks across the country on August 17 targeting government establishments, mainly the offices of local district administrations and the courts. After the blasts their cadres had left behind leaflets in which they had asked the government to establish Islamic rules or face JMB offensive. In the leaflets, the militants also asked the bureaucrats and judges to stop administrative and judicial works under what they said evil laws of democracy and the constitution.
On October 3, the courts and the judges were targeted once again in another series of bomb blasts in Chandpur, Chittagong and Lakshmipur. Another bomb attack was carried out in the same month targeting a judge, Biplop Goswami, in Sylhet on October 18.

The violent activities of JMB came down as the SAARC summit approached. According to Bangladesh intelligence sources, militants had decided not to strike during the SAARC summit. But immediately after the summit, the outlawed Islamist outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) struck again. It killed two senior assistant judges and wounded three others in a suicide bomb attack in Jhalakathi on November 14. The slain judges were Shaheed Sohel Ahmed, senior assistant judge of Nalchhiti upazila, and Jagannath Pandey, senior assistant judge of the Sadar upazila. The attack on the very next day after the summit ended indicated that Islamists were perfectly capable of carrying out such attacks even when the summit was on.

Opposition Awami League Alleges Involvement of the Government
Condemning the killing of the two judges, Awami League (AL) President and Opposition Leader Sheikh Hasina said the militants are back in action after getting green signal from the coalition government. She also alleged that the Islamist militants kept quite during the SAARC summit on the instruction of the government.

The militant, Iftekhar Hasan Al Mamun alias Mamun Ali involved in Jhalakathi bomb attack was held by the locals and turned in to police. He confessed to be a member of the JMB suicide squad. Police also seized an unexploded bomb strapped to one of his thighs along with 24 leaflets of the banned organisation. The bomber revealed that he joined the JMB in 2000 and was subsequently promoted as a member of the suicidal squad. Mamun further stated that he was under the supervision of Rajshahi JMB leader Mustafa and Abdur Rahman was his commander-in-chief. A handwritten leaflet seized from him said, "We don't want Taguti [non-Islamic] law, let Qur'anic law be introduced. Law framed by humans cannot continue and only the laws of Allah will prevail."

Bomber linked to Jamaat
Police investigation further indicated that the Jhalakathi bomber and his family members are closely linked to Jamaat-e-Islami, which is part of four party ruling coalition. He was also an activist of Islami Chattra Shibir, Jamaat's student wing. His family members approved of his act. Police also seized several goods including several copies of Al Magajee, JMB's monthly magazine, and many leaflets from their house. The house is located near a mosque-cum-Islami training centre in Dasmari. The mosque received funding by Al Muntada Ali Islami, who has alleged links to Saudi terrorist group al Qaeda. Al Muntada, also widely blamed for channeling funds to local militants, appointed Ershad Ullah, a follower of militant linchpin Asadullah al Galib, as the mosques imam.
The terrorists attack led to abstention from work by judges and lawyers partly to protest the killings and partly for fear of further attacks on members of judiciary.

Threats Issued to other Judges
In a handwritten letter on November 9, the JMB threatened to liquidate Speedy Trial Tribunal Judge Samad in Khulna. This letter says: "The JMB does not believe in laws formulated by humans; those who conduct court proceedings by these laws would be killed for the sake of Islam."
An unknown Islamist outfit, Islami Ranojoddha threatened to kill all the judges in Noakhali including Deputy Commissioner (DC) Shahadat Hossain Majumadar. A letter issuing the threat was sent to the DC office on November 13. The outfit denied its link with outlawed Islamist organisation JMB but claimed its operations commander Bangla Bhai stayed in the locality. It vowed to fight unto death to realize Islamic rule in the country.

In separate incidents on November 15, JMB threatened to blow up Patuakhali Judge Court, and a booklet sent by mail to the Rangamati municipality chairman urged the Muslims to establish Quranic Ayeen (Islamic Law) in Bangladesh. The letter also claimed that the outfit has a training camp at Baufal in the district and named Asadullah Galib as its leader and Abdur Rahman as its guru. The booklet sent to Municipality Chairman Habibur Rahman JMB urged the people of Bangladesh to celebrate Independence Day on August 14 terming March 26, 1971 as ' separation day'. It also warned that only Mohammad Ali Jinnah should be honoured as 'father of the nation."


  • The JMB on November 16 sent a 'warning letter' to Sub Judge Karim, threatening to blow him to bits if he does not conduct his court proceedings according to shariah.

  • The Islamist outfit on November 16, in Rajshahi asked two judges in the district -- Senior Assistant Judge Tarik and Assistant Judge Kabir -- to resign if they want to escape death.

  • Anonymous callers on November 16 threatened UNO Sarkar and AC Biswas in Bhola with death and blowing up their offices.

  • Militants on November 17 threatened to bury the law minister alive in Companiganj of Noakhali while in Rajshahi, Jama'atul Mujahideen threatened to blow up the prison if its detained cadres are not freed within 12 days starting from November 20.

  • A Senior Assistant Judge of Jhalakathi MA Awal, who narrowly escaped death on November 14, received death threats on November 20 while an anonymous caller claiming to be a Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) operative threatened to blow up Chittagong Railway Station.

  • A man identifying himself as a JMB cadre on November 20 asked Senior Assistant Judge Umme Kulsum of Chittagong to conduct trials under Islamic laws.

  • JMB on November 21 threatened to blow up the major government offices, courts and all Liberation War memorials in Rangamati if "the law of Allah is not introduced and the Martyred Intellectuals Day or the Victory Day is observed." The JMB's policymaking body Majlish-e-Shura has meantime asked its suicide squad members to fight to death to eliminate those blocking their way and to continue striking the government offices and courts.

  • The JMB on November 21 announced its intentions to blow up the Tangail Press Club, the judge court and the deputy commissioner (DC) office in Habiganj, and threatened to kill journalists in Tangail and the executive engineer of the Sirajganj municipality.

  • JMB operatives on November 22 sent letters to two judges in Munshiganj, threatening to kill them and their families.

  • On November 23 the JMB operatives in Barisal sent letters to five NGOs--NGO Forum, Shayestabad Altruism Institution of Nationwide Task (SAINT) Bangladesh, Voluntary Organisation for Social Development (VOSD), Padokkhep and Disha, threatening to blow them up as the NGOs "do not maintain Islamic code of conduct and are engaged in looting the poor's wealth and taking foreign aids".

  • The JMB suicide squad on November 24 threatened to kill Netrakona superintendent of police (SP) Ali Hussain Fakir along with his family members as he has recently submitted a charge sheet against the cadres of the militant outfit and sought remand of two JMB cadres named Kawser Alam Sumon and Amanullah alias Sanaullah.

Reasons behind Targeting Judiciary by militants
The Islamic militants who are attacking judges have little respect for the judicial system in place now. As the courts are spread all over the country, it is easier for them to attack the judges in their courtrooms. Moreover, the Islamists consider the judiciary as the most obvious barrier to establishing Islamic rules. Without an effective judiciary no state can run. Militants think that once the judiciary is destroyed or rendered ineffective JMB's purpose of sabotaging the entire system of government will be attained. Militants also believe that once the implementation of existing laws is stopped, people will seek arbitration before the persons who want to implement Sharia law instead of going to court. The JMB cadres are also inspired by the example set by Taliban in Afghanistan where they had attempted to destroy the established judiciary before capturing power.

Government Action far from Sufficient
The government ban on Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and arrest of nearly 400 of its cadres in the wake of August 17 blasts has hardly left any impact on the functioning of the terrorist organization. Most of the persons arrested are foot soldiers of the outfit. The JMB leaders of different level especially its top tier, seven-member Majlish-e-Sura, have been successful in evading arrest. The seven members are JMB chief Abdur Rahman, responsible for the entire operation, his younger brother Ataur Rahman Sunny, who was in charge of Dhaka, Abdul Awal alias Ashique of greater Rajshahi, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMB) operations commander Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai of greater Chittagong, Hafez Mahmud of greater Khulna region, Salahuddin of greater Sylhet, Shaikh Tariq of the Rangpur-Dinajpur region.


The Bangladesh police now says that it is hunting for about 2,000 potential suicide bombers from three banned militant groups- JamaÂ’atul Mojahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh JMBB), Harqat-Ul Jihad HuJII). Police believes that many of these militants were trained in Afghanistan under theTalibann and they might be preparing for more attacks after the killing of two judges in the coastal town of Jhalakathi.


The Bangladesh government warned foreign missions on November 24 about the threat of possible attacks by Islamist militants. The warning came as police seized explosives and bomb-making materials, as well as automatic weapons in raids on five hideouts in northwest and southeastern Bangladesh.

Police Gets a Breakthrough but Gains are not Consolidated
The Bangladesh police on November 22 busted the Rangpur hideout of arrested Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) kingpin Abdul Awal and recovered bomb-making materials, combat training books and equipment, a list of future attack targets and cellphone numbers of some 50 police officials. The raid was conducted by a joint team of Nilphamari and Rangpur police and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab).

Problem Compounded as Police is Hand in Glove with the Militants
The breakthrough achieved by the police was not used to tighten noose around the Islamists. On the other hand, doubts have arisen regarding the role played by the police. It is now suspected that the police administration itself is working as an informant of the banned Islamist militant group. This suspicion grew stronger as police did not include the JMB hit list recovered from the Rangpur hideout in its seizure list. Moreover, police has been slow in conducting any drive to arrest local militants. They have been mysteriously inactive to launch further drive to detect militant network in the district after its Rangpur hideout was busted. The suspicion of police link to the JMB got stronger as an SP from Nilphamari was given the responsibility of carrying out the operation in Rangpur, bypassing the Rangpur police.

The UK State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Common-wealth Kim Howells who was visiting Bangladesh stated on November 16 that the failure of government to bring to trial the perpetrators behind the grenade attack on British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury and other bomb attacks ultimately encouraged the militants. He reportedly said, "If these people are not brought to justice, others may feel that they can get away with attacks on government officials. We have to find these people and find (them) quickly." However, the Bangladesh State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar still believed that militants have not grown to an alarming proportion. Interestingly, few days later, the minister conceded that the suicide squad of outlawed JMB has added a new dimension to terrorism in the country.

BNP Sacks its Own MP for Anti-militant Stance
The ruling BNP on November 24 expelled its lawmaker Abu Hena from the party for his remarks against the rise of Islamist militants under the direct patronage of a section of the party and the government, terming his statement antiorganizationall. Speaking to media, the lawmaker from Rajshahi had blamed that a section of his party colleagues were patronizing the Islamist militants. He further claimed that “the leaders who support the rise of militants have expelled” him from the party. It is believed that the BNP chairperson and prime minister took the decision to axe Abu Hena from the party in an apparent bid to defuse the grievances of its alliance partner Jamaat-e-Islami.

Conclusion
After attacking parliament members, leaders and activists of Awami League, rallies of opposition parties, mosques, temples, fairs and foreign diplomats Islamists in Bangladesh are now targeting the judiciary so that they can replace the present legal system with one based on obscurantist interpretations of religious law. If Islamists succeed in their attempt it will help them to turn a democracy into a Taliban kind of state. The Bangladesh government is aware of the designs of the Islamists as well as their increasing strength. But, still it appears reluctant to act against them. With the present ruling coalition on the side of the Islamists, it may not be long before the democratic institutions of Bangladesh start crumbling. #

Copyright © South Asia Analysis Group

Source: South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG), New Delhi, paper # 1629, published 28 November 2005
Link:
http://www.saag.org/papers17/paper1629.html

(The author can be reached at anandkrai@yahoo.com)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Islamic Jihadis target judiciary

photo: intermittent bombing my Islamic vigilante caused death & maim of hundreds of people in last several weeks




Bangladesh: Judges under the attacks of the JihadisÂ’
Table of Contents
1.INTRODUCTION

2. JUDGES UNDER THE ATTACK OF THE JIHADIS
A. KILLINGS
B. DEATH THREATS
3. THE JIHADIS
A. LEADERSHIP AND POLITICAL SUPPORT
B. CADRES: MADRASAS AND ROHINGYYAS
i. Madrasas
ii. Rohingyaas
C. INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT: ISLAMIC CHARITY GROUPS
4. LIVING WITH THE JIHADIS: INDISPENSABILITY OF THE JAMAATS

1. IntroductionThe Bangladesh Judicial Service Association (BJSA) in its extraordinary meeting on 21 November 2005 decided that no judge would work as a vacation judge to another district during the vacations in December 2005 for security reasons. It also decided that unless the government exempts the judges from paying taxes on their private vehicles and firearms, they would stay absent from the courts for an indefinite period and take leave en masse from 1 January 2006.[1] The decisions were taken following the killing of two judges by Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in Jhalakathi on 14 November 2005.
Between 17 August and 20 November 2005, six other judges and lawyers have been attacked and 13 others received death threats from the Jihadi groups demanding replacement ofso-calledd man-made laws with the Koranic laws. The judiciary in Bangladesh has virtually been paralysed.
In the postTalibann period in Afghanistan, no other country has been affected by theTalibann inspired Jihadi movement more than Bangladesh. There has been an alarming rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the country since then President Zia-Ur Rahman allowed the return of Pakistani collaborator and leader of the Jammat-I-Islam, Golam Azam in 1978. When Bangladesh National Party formed electoral alliance with Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Oikya Jote in October 2001 general elections, the return of the Jamaats in the mainstream politics took the full circle. The Islamic fundamentalist groups who were hitherto identified as “Rajakars” or Pakistani collaborators have since become the rulers of the country.

Since the Bangladesh National Party (BNP)-Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Oikya Jote came to power in 2001, there have been systematic attacks on opposition leaders, progressive intellectuals, NGOs and journalists by the Jihadis. The murderous attack on one of Bangladesh's most liberal writers, Professor Humayun Azad in front of the Bangla Academy in Ramna, Dhaka on 27 February 2004 [2], the bomb attack on British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Anwar Choudhury on 21 May 2004 at Hazrat Shahjalal Shrine in Sylhet[3], the bombing of the BRAC office at Porsha upazila of Naogaon district on 15 February 2005[4] are testimonies to the systematic attacks by the Jihadis. Yet, the attacks on the Hindu minorities following the October 2001 elections, the attack on Sheikh Hasina, leader of the opposition at a rally on 21 August 2004 and the assassination of former Finance Minister AKibriabia on 27 January 2005 have been dismissed as political attacks or worst, handiwork of neighbouring countries.

After a series of coordinated blasts of at least 459 time bombs in 63 of total 64 districts across the country on 17 August 2005 that killed 2 persons and injured more than 100, it was no longer possible for Bangladesh to brush aside Islamic fundamentalism in the country.[5]
The recent attacks on the judges in Bangladesh are symptoms of the level of penetration made off-shootsots of tTalibanban. Given the power the fundamentalists share in the present administration, extreme poverty and flourishing Madrasas with direct State support, Bangladesh will never be a secular country that the countryÂ’s first constitution envisaged. However the conflict between the moderate Muslims and the Jihadis will bleed the country.

The primary targets of the August 17th bombing across the country were the courts and the judges. Leaflets of banned Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), recovered from the blast sites, called for establishment of Islamic rule in the country. They have threatened the judges with death if they fail to replace secular laws with “Koranic laws”.
Since the August 17th bombing, the judges have come under serious attacks from the Jihadis. Between 17 August and 20 November 2005, four persons including two senior assistant judges Sohel Ahmed of Sadar Upazila Court and judge Jagannath Parey of Nalchhiti Upazila Court were killed in the direct attacks on the judges; six other judges and lawyers - Joint Assistant Judge Abu Sufian, Laxmipur[6], First Sub-Judge Dipen Dewan, Chandpur[7], Advocate Kazi Mozammel Hossain, Chandpur[8], Second Joint District Session Judge Dilzer Hossain, Chittagong[9], Metropolitan Magistrate MM Akram Hossain, Chittagong[10] and Sylhet divisional speedy trial tribunal judge, Biplob Goswami[11] were attacked; and 10 judges including Abdus Samad, judge of the Khulna divisional speedy trial tribunal[12], First Joint District Judge Shamsul Islam, Chittagong[13], Senior Assistant Judge Kazi Abdul Hannan, Chittagong[14], Judge Mafizul Islam of the Money Loan Court, Pabna[15], District and sessions judge in Gopalganj[16], Iktedar Ahmed, a judge in southeastern CoxÂ’s Bazar district[17] Judge Kuddus Zaman in Barisal district[18]

Abu Sufian, Joint District Judge of Laxmipur[19], senior Assistant Judge of Jhalakathi MA Awal[20] and Senior Assistant Judge Umme Kulsum of Chittagong[21] received death threats.
a. Killings On 14 November 2005, two senior assistant judges - Sohel Ahmed (35) of Sadar Upazila Court and Jagannath Parey (38) of Nalchhiti Upazila Court were killed in a bomb attack as they were traveling to office in southern district of Jhalakati. Four persons were also injured including the suspected bomber identified as Mamun. Police reportedly seized a bomb and hand-written leaflets of the Jamaatul Mujaheedin from his possession. The leaflet readman-made manmade laws and establish Qur’anic laws”.[22]

On 18 October 2005, Biplob Goswami, speedy trial tribunal judge of the Sylhet division came under bomb attack at his residence at Kumarpara in Sylhet. He luckily escaped unhurt as the assailant missed his target. The assailant idenAkhterd as Akter Hossain was caught by the local people.[23]

On 3 October 2005, suspected militants of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) carried out serial bomb attacks in courtrooms in three districts of Chandpur, Laxmipur and Chittagong district, killing two persons and injuring 38 others, including a district judge and a policeman. Second Joint District SessDilderdge Dilzer Hossain in Chittagong narrowly escaped death only because the bomb hurled at him did not explode. Hand-written leaflets of the Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) recovered from the Chandpur blast site called for establishing Islamic rule in the country.[24]

b. Death threats Judges across the country have received death threats.
On 5 October 2005, three judges in Chittagong received threats of bomb attack from anonymous callers asking them to discharge their duties as per Islamic 'Sharia'. The judges who received threats are First Joint District Judge Shamsul Islam, Senior Assistant Judge Kazi Abdul Hannan and Judge Umme Kulsum.[25]

On 5 October 2005, a militant organization, Islami Ain Bastabayon Parishad, sent leaflets by post to Dhaka Bar Association asking it to cooperate in establishing Islamic rule in the country or face dire consequences.[26]

On 7 October 2005, banned Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Janajuddha jointly threatened to kill Judge Mafizul Islam of the Money Loan Court, Pabna. Judge Mafizul Islam reportedly admitted having received a hand-written letter in which the banned outfits threatened to kill him and his family members and to blow up the court by suicide squads.[27]

On 16 October 2005, police recovered a bomb-like object and a note from the district and sessionÂ’s judgeÂ’s residence in Gopalganj, threatening to take action against the judge if he did not conduct court proceedings as per Islamic law.[28]

On 25 October 2005, Iktedar Ahmed, a judge in southeastern Cox’s Bazar district, reportedly received an anonymous telephone call threatening to kill him. “You have ignoredpracticingfor practising the law of Allah. So, be prepared to die,” Ahmed quoted the caller as saying.[29]

On 26 October 2005, the wife of Judge Kuddus Zaman in Barisal district said she had received a letter from a group which called itself Manabadhikar Rakkha-O-Uddhar (Human Rights Restoration and Preservation) threatening to kill her husband.[30]

On 16 November 2005, the JMB threatened two judges – Ahsan Tarek, a senior assistant judge and Enayet Kabir, an assistant judge, in Rajshahi through letters. The letters said, ‘If you do not leave Rajshahi within the next two weeks, you will be blown away’.[31]

On 16 November 2005, the JMB sent a 'warning letter' to Sub Judge-1 of Money Loan Court, Pabna Sharif Mostafa Karim, threatening to blow him to bits if he does not conduct his court proceedShariacording to Shariah in Pabna. The handwritten letter jointly sent by JMB and outlawed Purba Banglar Communist Party's (PBCB) Janajuddha faction termed the judges as “Islam's enemy” and bowed that “you and your court will be blown up with a remote control bomb."[32]

On 20 November 2005, senior Assistant Judge of Jhalakathi, MA Awal, received a letter of death threat, accusing him of 'committing acts of injustice and indulging in wrongful activities'. Mr Awal had narrowly escaped death in the car bomb blast on 14 November
2005 which left two of his colleagues Sohel Ahmed and Jagannath Pandey dead and three others injured.[33]

On 20 November 2005, a man identifying himself as a JMB cadre asked Senior Assistant Judge Umme Kulsum of Chittagong to conduct trials under Islamic laws, failing which the caller warned of stern action against the judge.[34]

3. The Jihadis The key Jihadi groups are Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HuJI), Jagrata MusliJMBnata Bangladesh (JMJB) and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). However, the links of these groups with the over ground Islamic fundamentalist organizations, Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Oikya Jote, have been an open secret.

a. Leadership and political support Investigations in the August 17th bombings have reveJamaatse role of the Jammats beyond any reasonable doubt. A number of arrested members of the Jihadi groups reportedly confessed to having close ties with Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh.[35]

However, the government is unlikely to take action against its allies, more so given the forthcoming general elections is slated for January 2007.
Following the 17th August bombing, the police blamed the Jamaatul Mujahideen. However, Minister of Industries and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami put the blame on India’s RAW and Israel’s MOSAD. However, former IslamiMaulanaation Director, Moulana Fariduddin Masud, detained for suspected links to the August 17 blasts reportedly pointed out Nizami’s involvement in the countrywide explosions. Yet, no action has been taken against Nizami. Investigative agencies have also reportedly found that a Jamaat-e-Islami Member of Parliament (MP) used his ‘good relations’ with a family having both Jamaat and Sarbahara (a militant outfit) links to involve an outlawed party in the August 17 chain-bombings.[36] On 26 September 2005, BNP's International Affairs Secretary Syed Najibul Bashar Maizbhandari resigned from the party, protesting the government’s 'failure to act' against Jamaat-e-Islami.[37] A total of 152 cases were lodged in connection with the 459 bomb blasts of August 17 among which the charge sheets have so far been submitted in 33 cases. About 400 suspects have been arrested in connection with these attacks and many of these detainees have identified themselves as JMB cadres and reportedly confessed to their involvement in the near-simultaneous bomb blasts.[38] Despite announcing a bounty for the arrest of Mohammad Abdur Rahman ankingpin Bhai,[39] alleged kingpins of the bombing - JMB chief Abdur Rahman, responsible for the entire operation, his younger brother Ataur Rahman Sunny, who was in charge of Dhaka, Abdul Awal alias Ashique of greater Rajshahi, JagrataJMBlim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) operations commander Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai of greater Chittagong, Hafez Mahmud of greater Khulna region, Salahuddin of greater Sylhet, Shaikh Tariq of the Rangpur-Dinajpur region have evaded arrest.40 On 18 November 2005, JMB chief's son-in-law Abdul Awal was arrested in Thakurgaon.[41]

While innocent people are killedcross-firey in the name of “crossfire” by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the administration has failed to arrest dreaded Bangla Bhai. There is no political will to arrest the culprits and prosecute them, if arrested. “In most cases, law enforcers framed charges against them in such a way that they could easily get bail, while in some cases police let them go after the arrests in exchange of money,” said an official of an intelligence agency.[42]

The Jihadis have infiltrated the administration. There have been reports of the military and police personnel training the Jihadis. Bangla Bhai was once arrested on 17 August 2002 in Bagerhat, but was released a couple of months later. He was again arrested at Joypurhat later, but was released soon.[43]

On 16 February 2005, the Additional Superintendent of Police of Khulna, Mofazzel Hossain, was arrested for allegedly harbouring an outlawed party operative.[44]

On 3 October 2005, police arrested Abu Taleb alias Babul Ansari, assistant security officer of the parliament secretariat, in Dhaka for his alleged links with the Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh.45 According to officials of the Joint Interrogation Cell, Babul Ansari confessed that he is a leader of AllahÂ’s Dal, an Islamist militant outfit, and has disclosed the names of 20 leaders of AllahÂ’s Dal.[46]

b. Cadres: Madrasas and Rohingyyas Majority of the cadres are draChattram the Madrasas and Islamic Chatra Shibir, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh. i. Madrasas There are presently an estimated 64,000 madrasas in Bangladesh.[47] The state support to madrasas, which are increasingly being held responsible for fomenting extremism across the world, has increased exponentially during the current BNP-Jamaat rule. It is not only Saudi funds. The government of Bangladesh has been using assistance for education from UN agencies, western donors and other multilateral financial institutions to fund the madrasas. According to Bangladesh Economic Review, from 2001 to 2005, the number of madrasas increased by 22.22 per cent in comparison to the 9.74 per cent growth of the general educational institutions. Teachers in the general schools and colleges increased by 12.27 per cent against 16.52 per cent in the madrasas during the same period. The number of students in general educational institutions rose by 8.64 per cent while the madrasas saw 10.12 per cent rise. These figures relate to about 9,000 government-registered Qaumisas. There are about 15,000 QawQaumidMadrasahnder the Bangladesh Qawmi Madrasa Education Board which are totally out of government control and have their own curriculum.[48] There are thousands of other madrasas whorganizationregistered under any organisation.

Madrasas have been consistently used as training centres by the Jihadis.
On 24 August madrasaharakatullah Al Morshed, a madrasa teacher in Bagerhat, was arrested. He reportedly confessed his link with the outlawed Jamaat'ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and involvement in the bombings.[49]

On 18 September 2005, Masud bin Ishaque, a member of the JMB, arrested in Khulna for suspected links to the August 17th serial blasts, reportedly confessed before the chief metropolitan magistrate in Khulna to having trained the Islamist militants in firearms and bombs in the mosques in Khulna under the supervision of Islamic terrorist leaders including Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai.[50]

On 25 September 2005, an arrested JMB militant Faisal Ahmed told a Dhaka court that the capitalÂ’s Kakrail Mosque had been used to train bombers involved in the August 27 serial blasts. According to Faisal Ahmed, he and three other Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) operatives, who were assigned to detonate a bomb at Rajarbagh Police Lines, stayed at the mosque for four days leading up to the serial blasts and took training necessary to operate a time bomb.[51]

ii. Rohingyaas The Rohingyas, the Muslim migrants from Arakan State of Myanmar who sought refuge in Bangladesh have been a target of the Islamic fundamentalist groups. In 1991 and 1992, about 250,000 Rohingya refugees sought refuge in Bangladesh. About 20,000 remain in the camps maintained by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in southeast of Cox's Bazaar. An estimated 100,000 Rohingyas live outside the UNHCR's camps[52] and majority of them have settled down on the lands forcibly taken away from indigenous Jumma peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

The Rohingyas formed the fertile ground for recruitment by the Jihadis. Among the more than 60 videotapes that the American cable television network CNN obtained from al-Qaeda's archives in Afghanistan in August 2002, one marked "Burma" (Myanmar) purports to show Muslim "allies" training in that country. While the group shown i.e. the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), was founded by Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar's Rakhine State and claims to be fighting for autonomy or independence for its people, the tape was, in fact, shot in Ukia para in the CoxÂ’ bazaar areas, bordering Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. Many of those Chattra were members of the Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student outfit of the Jamaats.[53]

Following the 17th August bombing, a large number of the Rohingyas have been arrested. c. International support: Islamic charity groups
The investigative agencies reportedly detected a “deep-rooted” relation of some leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Oikya Jote, and their other affiliated organizations with Islamist NGOs.[54] But like most activities by the Jamaats, it has been Jamaatin secret.

The net profit of Jamati investment per annum is 5000 million Bangladeshi Taka or about 10% of the annual budget of Bangladesh government.[55] A large chunk of its funds also come from the Islamic charitable agencies.

The security agencies have reportedly identified 10 Islamist NGOs that are channeling funds to various Islamist extremist outfits in Bangladesh. These NGOs are Revival of the Islamic Heritage Society, Rabita Al Alam Al Islami, Society of Social Reforms, Qatar Charitable Society, Al Muntada Al Islami, Islamic Relief Agency, Al Forkan Foundation, International Relief Organisation, Kuwait Joint Relief Committee and the Muslim Aid Bangladesh.

Police reportedly revealed that a significant portion of the fund that the Islamic organizations in Bangladesh received every year from foreign Islamic bodies was being used for the cause of Jihad in Bangladesh in the name of various religious actimadrasah'ske construction of mosques, madrassas, orphanage centres and training of imams. There are no statistics of the funds arriving in Bangladesh but sources in the NGO Bureau estimated that the amount ranges from Tk 400 crore to Tk 500 crore per year. Investigators say the money is used to enlarge and strengthen the Jamaatul Mujahideen, Al Hikma and Alhe Hadith Andolon, by recruiting youths and motivating and training them to fight for turning Bangladesh into an Islamic state.[56]

4. Living with the Jihadis: Indispensability of the JamaatsThe Jammat-e-Islami and other fundamentalist groups remain indispensable in Bangladeshi electoral politics. During the last parliamentary elections in 2001, BNP received 40.97 per cent of the votes against 40.13 per cent received by the Awami League. The BNPÂ’s landslide victory was ensured because of the alliance with the fundamentalists.

Because of the indispensability of the Jamaats, the response of the BNP-led government of Bangladesh has been to address growing international criticisms rather than confronting the fundamentalists. In order to satisfy the donors on 23 February 2005 government banned Islamic outfiJMBagrata Muslim Janata, Bangladesh (JMJB) and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). But no further action was taken until the serial blasts on 17th August 2005.

Not surprisingly, the fear of the judges despite the government taking some visible security measures is palpable. The fear primarily arises because of the lack of faith in the government and security forces to take action against the fundamentalists. Unless the government of Bangladesh takes action against the Jamaats, it is unlikely that terrorism in Bangladesh could be rooted out. Action against the Jamaats is unlikely given their indispensability in Bangladeshi politics. The general elections are only about a year away. Judges in Bangladesh have no other option but to live under the shadow of the Jihadis because of the alliance between the BNP and the Jamaats.

International community must remain vigilant on further erosion of independence of judiciary in Bangladesh and the failure of the government to take appropriate actions against the Jihadis.

1 . Judges threaten to go on leave en masse, The Daily Star, Dhaka, 22 November 2005
2. Humayun Azad stabbed, fighting for life, The Daily Star, 28 February 2004
3. The Daily Star, 22 May 2004
4. Ibid
5. 459 blasts in 63 districts in 30 minutes, The Daily Star, 18 August 2005
6. Militants strike again on courts, The Daily Star, 4 October 2005
7. Ibid
8. Ibid
9. Ibid
10. Ibid
11. Sylhet judge escapes bomb attack, New Age, 19 October 2005
12. Khulna judge threatened with death, New Age, 16 June 2005
13. Ctg judges get bomb threats over phone- Anonymous caller asks them to follow Islamic 'sharia', The Daily Star, 6 October 2005
14. Ibid
15. JS secretariat security officer detained for 'militant link'- JMB, Janajuddha give death threat to Pabna judge, The Daily Star, 8 October 2005
16. Bomb-like object, threat note sent to Gopalganj judge, The Daily Star, 17 October 2005
17.
http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=57391
18. Ibid
19.
http://www.independent-bangladesh.com/news/oct/26/26102005ts.htm
20. JMB threatens to blow up Ctg railway station, Jhalakathi judge gets death threat, The Daily Star, 21 November 2005
21. Ibid
22. Bombers kill two judges in Jhalakati, New Age, 15 November 200
23. Sylhet judge escapes bomb attack, New Age, 19 October 2005
24. Militants strike again on courts, The Daily Star, 4 October 2005
25. Ctg judges get bomb threats over phone- Anonymous caller asks them to follow Islamic 'sharia', The Daily Star, 6 October 2005
26. Ibid
27. JS secretariat security officer detained for 'militant link'- JMB, Janajuddha give death threat to Pabna judge, The Daily Star, 8 October 2005
28. Bomb-like object, threat note sent to Gopalganj judge, The Daily Star, 17 October 2005
29.
http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=57391
30. Ibid
31. JMB threats to judges continue, New Age, 17 November 2005
32. JMB vows to keep on attacking judiciary, The Daily Star, 17 November 2005
33. JMB threatens to blow up Ctg railway station, Jhalakathi judge gets death threat, The Daily Star, 21 November 2005
34. Ibid
35. Jamaat link to militants becomes evident, The Daily Star, 22 September 2005
36. Jamaat MP brokered Sarbahara involvement: intel agency, New Age, 22 September 2005
37. Maizbhandari quits BNP as govt fails to act against Jamaat, The Daily Star, 27 September 2005
38. Blast probes stuck in rut as JMB top brass ducks arrest, The Daily Star, 16 November 2005
39. Bounty announced for Abdur Rahman, Bangla Bhai arrest, New Age, 12 September 2005
40. Blast probes stuck in rut as JMB top brass ducks arrest, The Daily Star, 16 November 2005
41 .
http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/11/20/d5112001022.htm
42. Militants grow stronger as govt goes ‘soft’, New Age, 22 August 2005
43 . Inside the Militant Groups-4: They go free too easily, The Daily Star, 24 August 2005
44. Additional SP of Khulna arrested, The Daily Star, 17 February 2005 45. JS secretariat security officer detained for 'militant link', The Daily Star, 8 October 2005
46. AllahÂ’s Dal man names leaders, New Age, 12 October 2005
47 .
http://muktadhara.net/page80.html
48 .
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2005/20050903/eMadrasah#4
49. Madrasa teacher confesses link to August 17 bombings, The Financial Express. 5 September 2005
50. Khulna mosques used as militants' training camp - Says suspect; JMB carried out attacks on cinemas in 2002, The Daily Star, 19 September 2005
51. Kakrail Mosque was used to train Aug 17 bombers, JMB cadre says in confessional statement, The Daily Star, 26 September 2005 52 . Bangladesh: Breeding ground for Muslim terror, By Bertil Lintner, Asia Times, 21 September 2005
53 . Bangladesh: Breeding ground for Muslim terror, By Bertil Lintner, Asia Times, 21 September 2005
54. Intel wings find 10 Islamist NGOs funding militancy, New Age, 8 September 2005
55 .
http://muktadhara.net/page80.html
56. Foreign funds being used for Jihad cause: police, New Age, 6 September 2005

source: Asian Centre for Human Rights C-3/441-C, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058, India; Phone/fax: +91-11-25620583, 25503624