Monday, November 14, 2016

Hafiz Mohammed Syed (LeT, Pakistan) sharing the dais with Abdul Qudus Burmi (HuJI, Arakan) and other Rohingya leaders
Myanmar alleges Pakistan links to Rohingya militants ‘deep-rooted’

Saleem Samad

Myanmar for decades has been fighting a proxy war instigated by Pakistan’s dreaded military intelligence ISI, since the spy-outfit began to aid and abet Rohingya militants through neighbors.

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s State Counselor, has asked to understand the complexities of the issue surrounding problems in Rakhine State, she said at the BIMSTEC meeting in Goa, India.

Referring to recent attack on Myanmar border police earlier this month, she alleged the Rohingya militants, apparently recruited and led by Islamists were trained in Pakistan.

On October 9, militants targeted three Myanmar border posts along the border with Bangladesh and killed around nine soldiers.

Days after the attack, Myanmar President Htin Kyaw in a statement blamed a little-known Rohingya militant group “Aqa Mul Mujahideen” for the border outposts attack and pointed fingers at Pakistan, which did not surprise Bangladesh or Indian security agencies.

However, both India and Bangladesh are said to be very worried over the fresh armed conflict of Rohingya militants.

Senior officials in Indian intelligence, who have closely followed the Rohingya armed militancy for decades told Mizzima, a Myanmar news agency that the Aqa Mul Mujahideen (AMM) leaders were trained in Pakistan.

Pakistan's ISI's special operations cell coordinates the activity of the different Rohingya groups, whose leadership is based in the country.

Soon after General Ziaur Rahman grabbed power after assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in August 1975, Pakistan spy agency ISI negotiated funds from Libya and Saudi Arabia to organize clandestine operations in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.

Since then ISI made significant presence in the region for covert operation in Myanmar and Northeast States of India.

In latest development, the ISI operatives recruited Rohingya youths in Rakhine State and trained them in jungle bases on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, said an official of the India security agency.

He said that AMM is a new armed group that originated from the Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami-Arakan (HUJI-A) which enjoys close relations with the Pakistan Taliban.

The HUJI-A chief is Abdus Qadoos Burmi, a Pakistani national of Rohingya origin, who is claimed to have recruited Hafiz Tohar from Maungdaw in Myanmar and arranged for his training in Pakistan.

Tohar is said to be heading the AMM and Qadoos Burmi is close to the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba/Jamaatud Dawa (LeT/JuD), headed by Hafiz Sayeed.

Mizzima news agency earlier reported the LeT-JuD presence especially that of its humanitarian front Fala-i-Insaniyat in Rohingya relief camps in Rakhine State after the 2012 riots.

Qadoos Burmi developed the HUJI-A network in Bangladesh, using the remote hill-forests on its border with Myanmar, where security patrols by Bangladesh border security forces is limited.

After training promising recruits in Pakistan, they were sent to set up recruitment and training bases on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, where the fresh Rohingya recruits were trained in combat, weapons and use of explosives.

In the last several years, Bangladesh security forces zeroed in on several clandestine militant bases, but those hideouts were found to have been abandoned, after they were tipped by sources of the combing operations.

Bangladesh security agencies said that in July 2012, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)/Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) started the Difa-e-Musalman-e-Arakan conference in Pakistan to highlight the Rohingya cause.

"Subsequently, senior JuD operatives, Shahid Mahmood and Nadeem Awan, visited, in August 2012, Bangladesh to establish direct contacts with Rohingya elements based in camps along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border," said a top Bangladesh intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Maulana Ustad Wazeer and Fareed Faizullah, both Pakistani nationals of Rohingya origin, have been recruiting Rohingya “illegal migrants” who fled from Bangladesh to Thailand or Malaysia.

Earlier, Bangladesh authorities arrested Maulana Shabeer Ahmed, a Pakistan-based Rohingya operative in 2012 who revealed that he was coordinating with Rohingya militants in Bangladesh on behalf of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

"We cannot rule out that these Rohingya armed groups may have close links with Bangladesh's homegrown jihadis and could share hideouts, finances and sources of weapons supply," said a official of "Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime” unit.


The official who is privy to the issue, said Bangladesh and Myanmar needed to cooperate further in conflict management.

Saleem Samad is an Ashoka Fellow (USA) for trendsetting journalism, he is an awarding winning investigative reporter. Twitter @saleemsamad