Islamic Militant Outfits
Outlawed Groups[date banned]
Groups Under Watch
Bangladesh receives minimal attention in counterterrorism circles, the international media and academia despite the large amount of Islamist violence in the country. Bangladesh lies at the strategic crossroads of South and Southeast Asia. Potential terrorist movements and activities in or through Bangladesh pose a potentially serious threat to India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Burma, as well as Bangladesh itself. Consequentially, the Bangladesh Government has banned a number of Islamic extremist groups in recent years.
Bangladesh is plagued by illicit financial transfers. It is suspected that militants regularly tap into these illegal money flows to fund their operations. More than $1 billion in taxable goods is smuggled into the country from India, and analysts believe that some of this money ends up in the hands of terrorist groups. This is also the case with small arms sales, drugs and counterfeit US dollars that enter Bangladesh from neighboring Myanmar and the Golden Triangle.
Relations between Bangladesh and Pakistan have been tense since 1971 when the former East Pakistan separated from the western wing after a long struggle for independence. Islamabad has officially condemned Bangladeshi government's recent crackdown on Islamist groups linked with aiding former West Pakistan during the war of independence. It has always denied its role in the massacre during the war. No Pakistani government has formally apologized to Dhaka for the killings. Nationalist parties in Bangladesh, however, claim that the Pakistani army and its supporters killed around three million people during the war.
The 1971 war of independence continues to play an important role in Bangladeshi politics. Analyst Siegfried O. Wolf believes that those who were involved in the 1971 war crimes "are still threatening the country's peace and stability."
"They still maintain, or have established new links, with Pakistan-based terror groups as well as international jihadist organizations like 'Islamic State' (IS) and al Qaeda. There will be no peace in Bangladesh until these people and groups are brought to justice," Wolf told DW.
Bangladeshi government has also intensified its crackdown on Islamist groups involved in killing secular bloggers, but Wolf thinks it is far from enough. "Bangladesh has effectively been transformed into an Islamic state. As a result, Islamist parties have been able to assume a bigger role in the country's politics. The situation is ripe for an international terrorist group like IS to establish itself in Bangladesh. It will surely describe the executions as a 'crusade against Muslims.'"
A secular South Asian country — traditionally moderate even if politically unstable — Bagladesh government repeatedly insisted it had religious radicalism in check and is maintaining peace among its 160 million people. The constitution designates Islam as the state religion, but states the country is a secular state that “shall ensure equal status and equal rights in the practice of the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and other religions.” It affirms secularism is based on the elimination of: granting any religion political status; abuse of religion for any purpose; and “discrimination against, or persecution of, persons practicing a particular religion.”
Sections of the Police officers claim that the local intelligence agencies had been keeping Begum Khaleda Zia as well as her predecessor Sheikh Hassina informed of pro-Taliban and pro-Al Qaeda activities, but neither of them showed any inclination to act on the intelligence.
The government classifies as religious extremists those groups or individuals advocating replacement of the current secular government and laws with a government and laws based on strictly sectarian religious principles. It describes religious extremism as a threat to domestic security and stability. The government’s policy is to ban Islamic groups it broadly defines as extremist and to criminalize membership in such groups, which include Akromiya, Tabligh Jamoat, and Hizb ut-Tahrir. The government also bans Nur, founded by Kurdish Mullah Said Nursi and associated with the religious teachings of Turkish scholar Fethullah Gulen, despite the group’s condemnations of violent extremism.
The United States' country report for 2004 on Bangladesh noted, "Bangladesh's long tradition of inclusive, moderate Islam is increasingly under threat from extremist alternatives, already offering an attractive breeding ground for political and sectarian violence. Endemic corruption, poverty and a stalemated political process could further contribute to the type of instability and widespread frustration that has elsewhere provided recruits, support and safe haven to international terrorist groups." The trademark Bangladeshi official response of blaming the opposition, neighbouring India and criminals in the country for the incidents, found little international approval.
In February 2002, the government banned Shahdat al Hiqma, in February 2005 it banned Jagrata Muslim Janata, Bangladesh (JMJB) and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). Before the 23 February 2005 proscription of the JMB and the JMJB, the government refused to acknowledge the existence of these outfits and blamed the wild imagination of the media for painting the country in bad light. In October 2005 it banned Harkatul Jehad Al Islami (HUJI). In March 2008, the US Government listed Harkatul Jihadi Islami (HUJI)-Bangladesh as a foreign terrorist organization. In October 2009, the Government of Bangladesh added Hizb ut-Tahir al-Islami
By mid-2007 at least 12,000 trained cadres of Jamaatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB), Harktul Jihad (Huji) Hizbut Towhid, Jgrata Muslim Janata (JMJ) and Muslim Guerilla Sangshtha (MGS) are active in the south-western region covering Kushtia, Meherpur, Jhenidah, Jessore, Khulna, Narail and Satkhira, according to intelligence sources.
The Awami League (AL) government in Bangladesh on April 2009 blacklisted 12 militant organisations. The organisations were Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HuJI) Bangladesh, Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), Shahadat-e-al Haqima (SAH), Hizbut Touhid, Islami Samaj, Ulema Anjuman al Baiyinaat, Hizb-ut Tahrir, Islamic Democratic Party, Touhid Trust, Tamir ud-Deen, Alla’r Dal. Of these 12 groups, four including HuJI, SAH, JMJB and JMB were banned during the regime of BNP-Jamaat coalition. This move came as the Sheikh Hasina government geared up to fulfill it’s electoral promise of eradicating militancy from the country.
In August 2009 Bangladesh launched a drive against Islamist militancy, combining punitive action with interaction at grassroot level. The government hopes to involve the Muslim clergy in its drive. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government has begun taking measures to reach the grassroot level to tackle the problem, recognising that an anti-militant drive is not enough to uproot extremism from the society.
Fourteen government agencies are coordinating a massive socio-political campaign to educate people and closely monitor militant activities at the grassroot level. The campaign involves the 350,000 strong Bangladesh Ansar and Village Defence Party. The network of the two agencies are spread over the remote parts of the country where neither Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) nor police have regular access.
The introduction of the 15th Amendment Bill of the Constitution on June 30, 2011, which gave Islam the status of the 'State Religion', may well expand the spaces for radical Islamist politics in the country,legitimizing extremist formations and radical political parties such as the JeI.
As of 2013 all the banned and listed organisations were running their activities, even after the execution of six top leaders of the JMB on March 29, 2007, and the arrest of several thousand leaders and activists of the banned outfits, mainly Hizb-ut-Tahrir and JMB. Militant groups have been found conducting publicity campaigns through brisk processions, publishing posters and leaflets, and holding secret meetings
The so-called "Islamic State" claims to have established a "security cell" in Bangladesh to conduct attacks on foreigners and police in the country. The government of the Muslim-majority country rejects the claim.
Islamic States'S affiliate in Bangladesh claimed responsibility 27 November 2015 for a shooting attack on a mosque that left one man dead. At least five assailants fired on worshippers during evening prayers on Thursday at the Shi’ite mosque in the village Haripur in the northern Bogra district. An elderly man who had been leading the prayers was killed. The statement from the Isis affiliate said: “The soldiers of the caliphate targeted a place of worship for the apostates” built with funds from Iran, vowing more such attacks.
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