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Hizbut Touhid

Hijbut Touhid (the Unity Party) (other spellings include Hizbut Touhid and Tawhid Hizbuth) is an extremist group founded by Mohammad Bayazid Khan Panni, an imam from Tangail in central Bangladesh who says jihad armed struggle is required of all true believers of Islam. The group was believed to have no more than 5,000 supporters as of 2008, and just a few hundred activists among Bangladesh's 150 million people. Hizbut Touhid was established in 1994 at Korotia village in Tangail district of Bangladeshix. The organisation is led by Bayezid Khan Panni of Tangail, alias Selim Panni. who styles himself the Imam-Uz-Zaman, meaning someone just after the prophet of Islam.

Hizbut Touhid aspires to establish a world under the leadership of Imam Uz Zaman. It is against democracy and democratic institutions as it considers them to be the rules of evil. Also, the organization opposes leadership of women in politics and also working of women. It also feels that the Muslims who are not following the ideology of Hizbut Touhid are not real Muslim. The organisation believes that every men and women in Islam are armies of Allah and they should behave like armies in every walk of their lives. Hizbut Chief Panni has written many books like Dazzal and This Islam is not at all Islam.

In the book Dazzal Panni argues that Jews and Christians should be eliminated by the Muslims. The groups promotes armed struggle for establishment of Islamic rule in the world. Books and leaflets written by its Imam Panni are the main guiding force for the group. CDs, books and leaflets are widely distributed among people to attract cadres. Through these leaflets the group urges people to join them to establish Islamic rule, rejecting all manmade laws.

The outfit had around 1,200 trained cadres. It also has a women's wing. Some media reports also claim that the organisation is recruiting and training people to establish a suicide squad. The cadres are known to carry hammers with them. In September 2003 Hizbut Touhid cadres hammered a man to death in Pagla Bazzar in Narayanganj district.

The Hizbut Touhid is one of the Islamist parties whose importance and activity increased after the death sentence of leaders Jama'atul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB) (March 2007), in an effort to take instead of JMB. 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.

A survey by the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) think tank found that the number of Hijbut Touhid members reported arrested from August 2007 to January 2008 was 45, much more than other Islamic extremist groups, including the outlawed Jamaatul-Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) that was behind a notorious nationwide bombing campaign in 2005. Typically, Hijbut Touhid members are arrested for spreading jihadi ideology through speeches and for trying to organize street processions, which violated emergency rules in effect under the current Caretaker Government.

The group is active in several southwestern districts including Kushtia, Meherpur, Jhenidah, Magura and Chuadanga. The organisation also has its presence in the capital Dhaka and it is operating from Uttara, an upper middle class neighbourhood of the city. At least 31 of its members were arrested in Kustia including the groups regional commander in April 2009.

"After being defeated, insulted, despised and hated by other nations, it has become necessary for this (Muslim) nation of 1.5 billion people to understand clearly that Allah will punish us severely and then will choose another nation in our place if we shun jihad," one pamphlet said. Among the books published by the founder, the pamphlet said, are "This Islam is Not at all Islam" and "Demon? The Jewish-Christian Civilization."

One of the major hurdle in booking this group is that it often carry out its activities under cover of Tabliq Jamaat (proselytising group) The organisation is suspected to receive foreign funding. Investigations are on to identify the donors. The group also suspected to have foreign linkages because Panni, who left Bangladesh soon after the countrys independence had connections with many fanatic religious groups of the world during his stay in abroad.

In March 2008 a district police superintendent in southern Bangladesh barred activities of a legal Islamic extremist group that advocates the primacy of jihad, which it described as armed struggle that is required of all true Muslims. Although the police chief said the group's presence in Patuakhali District was negligible, he not only banned it from distributing propaganda but urged local imams to speak out against its teachings. His multifaceted offensive suggested a concern among at least some law enforcement officials that the presence of even small extremist groups poses a potential threat in this moderate Muslim-majority country.

Police arrested three alleged activists of Islamist outfit Hizbut Touhid who were seen distributing Jihadi books, leaflets, and CDs in front of Chittagong Press Club at Jamal Khan in the port city 31 December 2010. Kotwali police said the arrestees -- Yasin Ali, 39, Atikur Rahman, 27, and Mohammad Riad, 19, -- admitted their connection with Hizbut Touhid led by Bayejid Khan Ponni. Different objectionable leaflets, books, and CDs were seized from the three. The seized CDs are named Dazzal. Six members of the Hizbut Touhid were arrested by police 15 March 2010 at Sonakandi village under Senbagh upazila of the district. During the police action, at least six persons were injured in a clash between the locals and police. The clash erupted when the locals gheraoed and damaged the house of one Mizanur Rahman where the Hizbut Touhid leader Kohinoor Begum was holding a secret meeting with other members of the organization. Being informed, police rushed to the spot and fired teargas and charged batons on locals to disperse the crowd, in retaliation the locals pelted stone and brick chip on police injuring six persons during the clash.



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