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Friday, April 23, 2010

Hizb ut-Tahrir Target Bangladesh


THE HATE-INCITING Islamist sect Hizb ut Tahrir has three clear goals: to establish a community of like-minded Hizb ut Tahrir members in host states, to sway public opinion in one or more host states to facilitate change of government, and, finally, to install a new government that implements Islam generally and comprehensively, carrying (its particular brand of) Islamic thought to people throughout the world.

Hizb ut Tahrir’s constitution is a typical, dark, Islamist, totalitarian, freedom-removing, theocratic and extremist formula for an Islamic Caliphate. Hizb ut Tahrir has distributed leaflets inciting the murder of lesbians and gay men. It has referred to suicide bombings as “legitimate” acts of “martyrdom”. One Hizb ut Tahrir member recently expressed his regret to the religious freedom organization Forum 18 that Hitler had not succeeded in eliminating all Jews. Hizb ut Tahrir is proscribed in Russia, Germany and many Muslim countries.

Embarrassingly, Britain is now Hizb ut Tahrir’s de facto headquarters, from where it fundraises and recruits, whilst supporting its extremist brothers and sisters across the globe. A ban on its activities is currently being reviewed by the British Government following the delivery of two dossiers of information on the sect’s activities by the anti terrorist group VIGIL in November 2006 and March this year.

The main spokesman for Hizb ut Tahrir, Dr Imran Waheed, who led a rally of 8,000 people in London in December 2005, is recorded as saying that there can be “no possibility of harmonious co-existence between Islam and the West. Ultimately one has to prevail.” Hizb ut Tahrir is – and has been for years - a systematic dissemination of venom and poison through duplicity; cloaked in a flawed and blatantly apostate interpretation of Taqiyya.

Hizb ut Tahrir – like most extreme Islamist groups (Al Qaeda, the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front, the Taliban and Hezbollah) – seek that elusive state from which they think they will be able to launch their religious and political ideologies and thus grow an Islamic empire. An empire – Hizb ut Tahrir refers to a caliphate - which, according to an archived webpage of the Hizb ut Tahrir website, would "wrest the reins of initiative away from other states and nations" and become the dominant hegemony before Islam ultimately takes over the world.

Since its inception in Jerusalem in 1953, Hizb ut Tahrir’s attempts at winning over a state – like almost all extreme Islamist parties’ attempts – have failed pitifully. In 1968 then 1969 Hizb ut Tahrir was allegedly involved in two failed coup attempts in Jordan and Syria. In 1974 Hizb ut Tahrir failed in a coup attempt in Egypt. Upset that they’d overestimated the number of nuts in their target states, in 1978 Hizb ut Tahrir begrudgingly acknowledged “that the Muslim Ummah had reached a state of total surrender and despair and was not responding to anything”.

After twenty years of banging its head against the wall (virtual silence punctuated by the occasional arrest of a member), in 1998 – incidentally the year of the Tanzanian and Kenyan US embassy bombings by Al Qaeda, and a year of marked Internet take-up – Hizb ut Tahrir suddenly decided once again that the world should know that “the Caliphate is the wish of all Muslims” and thus busily set about making as many people as possible believe in their parallel universe, hanging onto the coat-tails of 911 and consequent “victimization” of Muslims. Hizb ut Tahrir began a two level recruitment strategy – recruiting students who, when they found work, would keep the sect financially buoyant and uneducated “footsoldiers” who would eventually do their dirty work, when called upon to rise up and seize power.

Hizb ut Tahrir’s failures to get hold of a state rankle it most in Central Asia where it has large followings in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, as well as in China's traditionally Muslim Xinjiang Province. Its expansion into Central Asia coincided with the breakup of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s but it came across unexpectedly tough national leaders where it tried to grow – one of whom is alleged to have got so fed up with Hizb ut Tahrir that he boiled some of its members alive - and consequently Hizb ut Tahrir huffed and puffed but failed to make the breakthroughs it was banking on.

Now Hizb ut Tahrir has set its sights on weak, impoverished Bangladesh, where President Dr Iajuddin Ahmed declared a state of emergency in January this year. Hizb ut Tahrir has developed a considerable support base in Bangladesh and in the Bangladeshi community in the UK, describing the last 16 years of government in Bangladesh as ”a failure of the so-called democratic system run according to the dictates of foreign imperialists”. Hizb ut Tahrir Bangladesh has recently published its “Islamic Manifesto” for the country demanding a Khilafah (caliphate), widespread implementation of Shariah law and – perhaps most worrying for the impoverished Bangladeshi economy - for such measures as no foreign ownership of any of the country’s resources.

Yet Hizb ut Tahrir refuses to enter democratic elections wherever it is in the world, claiming elections contrary to Shariah law thus null and void – instead, in Bangladesh, according to its chief in Bangladesh, Mohiuddin Ahmed, wishing to establish Bangladesh as an Islamic state through “systematic movement”.

So what is this “systematic movement” Ahmed refers to, and does Hizb ut Tahrir really have a chance of gaining the keys to the unstable Bangladeshi state?

Hizb ut Tahrir denies sending death threats to politicians, journalists and intellectuals in Bangladesh, though this extremist sect has a record of sending death threats to try to get its own way. (Notably, the gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell received numerous death threats from Hizb ut Tahrir representatives in the 1990’s). Through infiltrating government positions, Hizb ut Tahrir has brought pressure to bear on politicians through fear and finance.

Hizb ut Tahrir is recruiting followers at Bangladesh’s universities and several of its student activists have recently been arrested in the country for distributing inflammatory leaflets. It uses the old excuses of Palestine, Iraq and Western colonialism as the grounds for opportunistic recruiting – saying that its own policies will bring Bangladesh into a “Golden Age”, as once Islam (they allege) experienced. Any opportunity - whether it be cartoon protests or Papal utterances - presents the grounds for a Hizb ut Tahrir protest and recruitment drive.

Subsequent to a massive bombing attack on cities in Bangladesh on August 17th, 2005, Hizb ut Tahrir responded by accusing India of initiating a campaign to destabilize Bangladesh. Investigation later revealed the terrorist attack was carried out by another extremist Islamist faction in Bangladesh, Jama'atul Mujahideen. (Hizb ut Tahrir habitually accuses India, along with "Western colonial powers" of 'conspiracy' against the Bangladeshi populace, using speechifying not dissimilar to that used against the United States or Britain in the Middle East)

Certainly, Bangladesh is ripe for political change. And students – unlike in many other democracies – play an important part in Bangladeshi government. Student politics is particularly strong in Bangladesh, a hangover from the liberation movement era of the early 1970’s. Almost all parties have highly active student wings, and students have been elected to the Bangladeshi Parliament while still students.

The two major parties in Bangladesh are the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Awami League. BNP finds its allies among Islamist parties like Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and Islami Oikya Jot, while Awami League teams up with leftist and secularist parties. Another important player is the Jatiya Party, headed by former military ruler Ershad. The Awami League-BNP rivalry has been bitter and punctuated by protests, violence and murder – the three environments Hizb ut Tahrir thrives in.

Hizb ut Tahrir garners support and funds for its Bangladeshi designs in Bangladesh and in the UK.

One investigator from the anti terrorist organization VIGIL has been spending a considerable amount of time in the Tower Hamlets area of London – an area synonymous with Bangladeshi immigration and (in world-famous Brick Lane) Bangladeshi restaurants. 33 percent of the Tower Hamlet’s inhabitants are of Bangladeshi origins. It’s a deprived area with high levels of unemployment (like South Croydon, the kind of void area Hizb ut Tahrir look to expand their “footsoldier” recruitment in) .

From her investigations of the area, it has become clear that Hizb ut Tahrir (1) are spending considerable sums of money recruiting Bangladeshi Muslims in the area (2) taking out whole-page, cash-paid Hizb ut Tahrir recruitment ads in Bangladeshi newspapers (which keep some of the papers going according to one editor) (3) inviting Bangladeshis to Hizb ut Tahrir study circles and events (4) telling Bangladeshis not to vote in local or national elections as this is against the principles of Islam (5) distributing inflammatory propaganda leaflets in the area daily, which aim to attract the youth (6) at meetings declaring the West and, in particular, British life as deviant and corrupt – declaring even the Brick Lane festival as an event which Muslims should not be seen at because of the free mixing and alcohol present (7) underlying the “great work” Hizb ut Tahrir is doing in Bangladesh – how their work there is a portent of the Hizb ut Tahrir sponsored caliphate to come there (8) taking considerable funds off Bangladeshi recruits (9) apologizing for their failure in the past to recognize Bangladeshi Muslims as equals (Hizb ut Tahrir Britain consists predominantly of Pakistani Muslims who, as a group, have a well-documented superiority complex over Bangladeshi Muslims) and are actively looking to elect a British, Bengali-speaking Bangladeshi to their visible British leadership (10) are aggressively engineering takeovers of cash-cow Bangladeshi mosques in the Tower Hamlets area (11) are fishing the Tower Hamlets Bangladeshi community for useful, particularly Bangladesh Nationalist Party, political connections and routes for infiltration (12) are openly rejecting integration into British society, underlying the superiority of “Muslim identity” and the irrelevance of British “kuffar” laws (13) are privately distributing radical Islamist literature amongst members of the Bangladeshi Diaspora in Tower Hamlets (14) are particularly “providing structures of support” (radicalizing) Bangladeshi Muslims from the community in or recently out of jail and (15) are discreetly attending study circles and seminars in well-known private premises, who have been made aware (16) reports are coming through UK Bangladeshis that terror training camps are now springing up in Bangladesh to which British Bangladeshis are being sent.

More worrying is the evidence uncovered on the area’s East London Youth Forum, which is operating as a front organization for Hizb ut Tahrir. The Youth Forum engages Muslim youths in activities ranging from hiking to paint-balling – activities, which on the face of it, their (often 18 hour working day) parents are happy to see them partake in. Only, when these youths are away, then Hizb ut Tahrir starts the brainwashing. Undercover Sunday Times journalists accompanied members of the group to one paint-balling session last September in Zulu wood, Manchester, where an imam present described Osama Bin Laden as a "Muslim brother" and said it was the "responsibility" of every Muslim to bring back the caliphate. Kasim Shafiq, 28, a senior member of Hizb ut Tahrir who was present, declared that Muslims should not vote in British elections. "Our own shahadah [creed] tells us that the authority and law do not belong to the non-Muslims, so why are we going to vote for non-Muslims?" According to the Sunday Times, “The Asian group paid no attention to the 300 or so other players at the six-acre site, although they kept their voices down when, at the end of a game, the winning team called "Allahu Akbar [God is great]". During one game, a player said: "I’ve been shot." His team-mate replied: "Don’t worry, the shahid [martyr] never dies."

Hizb ut Tahrir’s focus in search of its “elusive state” has swung away from the Central European states like Uzbekistan – for now. It is focused primarily on a takeover of Bangladesh, from within Bangladesh and using the financial and political muscle of the Bangladeshi population living abroad. Or as one Bangladeshi Tower Hamlets resident put it to VIGIL’s investigator, “Bangladesh is home to corruption and political violence – in that chaos, any vaguely ordered Islamist group with cash and influence coming from abroad could seem like the solution.”

What are the odds of Hizb ut Tahrir succeeding in taking over Bangladesh, when they’ve failed in the past in all their coup attempts?

On the one hand, they have a chance. If the Jamaat e Islami party can be sufficiently infiltrated, bought out and threatened by Hizb ut Tahrir, they are already the largest partner of the largest political party in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

On the other hand, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has already banned two radical Islamist parties in Bangladesh –the JMJB and the JMB – so a likely deal with a group which is clearly in the pockets of Hizb ut Tahrir seems unlikely, unless Hizb ut Tahrir have sufficiently infiltrated the BNP (which, according to a BNP source, they have not).

Moreover, other factors play against Hizb ut Tahrir. For one, Bangladesh has instituted a unique system of transfer of power; at the end of the tenure of the government, power is handed over to members of a civil society for three months, who run the general elections and transfer the power to elected representatives – it is unlikely, even in the current political crisis, that Hizb ut Tahrir would not be revealed during these three months as the force behind a government looking to come to power. As a party seeking the caliphate, and therefore an end to democracy in Bangladesh, the three months would reveal their illegal attempt, by deception, at ending Bangladesh’s popular parliamentary representative democratic republic.

Moreover, Bangladesh is surrounded by India on all sides except for a small border with Myanmar to the far southeast and the Bay of Bengal to the south. Bangladesh is heavily dependent on India for direct foreign investment and much trade. India will not sit idly by while an extremist sect (of any kind) attempts a state takeover – nor will the wider international community.

There are several reasons why extreme Islamists will find assuming power in Bangladesh like pushing water uphill. But the key reason is that Bangladesh just isn’t a very religious place, particularly amongst the upper, ruling classes. A very traditional group of mullahs have a monopoly over religious institutions and their staid, unimaginative, conservative approach has made religion rather passé. This dullness was encapsulated in the award-winning Bangladeshi film Matir Moina – homeopathy and prayers instead of antibiotics, punishments for using one’s left hand to write and grim sermons on the conviction needed for Islam all commonplace.

Hizb ut Tahrir is – according to one BNP (Bangladesh) source – more likely to face a ban in Bangladesh than get even the slightest grip on the reins of power. Once again, it seems, the people are just not ready (or unwise?) enough to want to return to the Middle Ages and embrace Hizb ut Tahrir’s idea of a Caliphate.

Perhaps the people can remember what it was like in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Perhaps they can remember the Islamist factions’ attempts at taking control in Algeria in the 1990’s – where, in a Monty Pythonesque series of events which shocked even Al Zawahiri – Islamist sects began declaring that only they held the absolute truth and so set about slaughtering anyone who didn’t believe in their particular version of Islam (to the point where one Islamist sect leader, who also happened to be an illiterate chicken farmer, gathered his six disciples and went around murdering everyone else because they were, so he said, the only seven people in the world who held the truth, so all others, according to the Qu’ran he couldn’t even read, must die). Or maybe they just see through a sham when they are faced by one. (At the last time of counting the population of Bangladesh was 147,365,352. That’s an awful lot of people for Hizb ut Tahrir to con – an awful lot of paint-balling trips).

Hizb ut Tahrir’s actions are once again a worry for states across the world. The conveyor belt to terrorism, which they are part of, is still rolling and remains active in far too many countries. While Hizb ut Tahrir is an ever-present danger in that it radicalizes youths who may well go onto more extreme things, in relation to this extreme sect taking over a state perhaps we should worry less – for Muslims the world over think they are unbearably ugly and understand exactly why they have to wear a mask.

Even Muslim extremists warn about Hizb ut Tahrir. In a website “HT exposed” set up to warn fellow Muslims about the group’s dangers, an extremist Muslim group warns:

In reaction to this loss of the Khilafa in 1924 there arose many Islamic groups who claim to be fulfilling the obligation of working for the return of the Islamic State. Amongst these groups is one known as the "Hizb-ut-Tahrir." This group has been the cause of many of the youth being led astray, indoctrinated in false Islamic beliefs and fooled by false methodology. By this, they fall into those who maybe included in those astray sects who will be punished in the Fire of Jahannam, as made clear from the following aayah and hadeeth. "And whoever contends with and contradicts the Messenger after guidance has been clearly conveyed to him, and chooses a path other than that of the faithful believers (the companions and those that follow them in faith), We shall leave him in the Path he has chosen and land him in Hell, what an evil refuge" [Surah An-Nisa 4:115] "And this Ummah will divide into seventy-three sects, all of which except one will go to Hell and they (i.e. the saved sect) are those who follow what I and My Companions are upon." [Hasan Hadeeth, At Tirmidhee]. In particular they take a opinion on aahad narrations which is in opposition to the understanding of the scholars of the salaf, and they seek to confuse the youth by playing with words and their meanings, as will be made clear insha'Allah. We sincerely advise our brethren that maybe confused by these people to not let their eloquent speech confuse you. To the callers who call to misguidance after having the truth made clear, we remind you that the Fire of Jahannam is no joke.”

But let the last word go to Hanif Qadir, a moderate Muslim leader in East London who confirmed that Hizb ut Tahrir targeted “vulnerable young teenagers”, adding, “They can’t see the damage they cause to the Muslim community. If you want Sharia, then go and ask for it in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.”

Bangladesh, you must nonetheless be wary. Here’s a tip - you are not called “Ban”gladesh for nothing. #

First published in Global Politician, March 16, 2007

Dominic Whiteman is spokesperson for the London-based VIGIL anti-terrorist organization – an international network of terror trackers, including former intelligence officers, military personnel and experts ranging from linguistic to banking experts. He's currently the Editor of Westminster Journal

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