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Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI)

Harkat-ul Jihad al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B), which has ties to al-Qa`ida, is a well known militant organisation. It was established in 1992 by the returnees of Afghan war, who went to Afghanistan to fight against Soviet forces. The organisation was inspired by the Osama Bin Ladens International Islamic Force (IIF). The leader of the organisation is Showkat Osman alias Sheikh Faridi. HuJI-B aspires to establish Islamic Hukumat or rule of Islam in Bangladesh by launching jihad. It is against all those who support secularism -- liberal intellectuals, leaders and festivals that uphold the secular image of the country like the Bengali New Year have been targeted by HuJI-B.

HuJI-B cadre is estimated to be around 15,000 as of 2009, mostly madrasa educated. Some reports claim that HuJI received initial funding from Osama Bin Ladens International Islamic Front (IIF).

The HUJI of Pakistan and its branch in Bangladesh, both of which are reported to be close to sections of the local armed forces and military intelligence, initially did not suffer from any ban. Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the Amir of the HUJI of Pakistan, was arrested by the Dubai authorities and handed over to the Pakistani security agencies in August 2004, but he by 2005 had not been prosecuted for any offense despite the HUJI's suspected involvement in many post-9/11 terrorist strikes in Pakistan, including the two attempts to kill President General Pervez Musharraf in December 2003.

Harakat-ul Jihad Islamis area of operation extended throughout South Asia, with its terrorist operations focused primarily in India and Pakistan. The groups area of operation was mainly in the coastal areas stretching from Chittagong through Coxs Bazaar to the Myanmar. It is alleged to have operational network in India and has been responsible for carrying out several acts of terror in India, including the bomb blast in Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi in 2006 and in Hyderabad in May 2007.

HuJI-B had close links with Ronhingya Solidairty Organisation, the armed outfit of Rohingyas of Myanmar. The group had connections with many of the north eastern insurgent groups. United Liberation Front training camps in the Chittagong Hill Tracts claimed to be run by HuJI. It was alleged to have links with Pakistans Inter Services Intelligence and al Qaida. The group was a signatory to Bin Ladens declaration of war against the US.

Harakat-ul Jihad Islamis relationship with al-Qaida flourished after the Talibans rise in Afghanistan. It provided fighters for the Taliban in Afghanistan and training of HUJI members in al-Qaida training camps. HUJI has carried out a number of terrorist attacks. On March 2, 2006, HUJI was responsible for the suicide bombing of the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy, and injured 48 others. HUJI is also responsible for terrorist attacks in India including the May 2007 Hyderabad mosque attack, which killed 16 and injured 40, and the March 2006 Varanasi attack, which killed 25 and injured 100. In January 2009, a federal grand jury indicted HUJIs leader Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri for terrorism-related offenses in connection with a terrorist attack against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Denmark. As commander of Harakat-ul Jihad Islami, Kashmiri provided support to al-Qa'ida operations and terrorist attacks. Kashmiri supported attacks against Pakistani government personnel and facilities, including the mid-2009 attack against the offices of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Pakistani police in Lahore, Pakistan that killed 23 people and left hundreds injured. Kashmiri also led HUJI training camps since 2001. In 2009, Kashmiri operated a militant training center in Miram Shah, North Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. He ordered the October 2008 assassination of the former commander of the Pakistani Special Services Group, General Amir Faisal Alvi. The Khaleda Zia Government finally banned the Islamist outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), in the awake of growing militancy and countrywide bombings. A Government announcement said, "Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami is a self-confessed terrorist organisation. Its activities are very sensitive and it is identified as a terrorist organisation." A press note issued by the Home Affairs Ministry on 17 October 2005 said "on the basis of latest information, the Bangladesh Government has declared a ban on Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and all of its activities."

The 2005 crack-down on religious extremist elements ordered by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh was selective. It concentrated on action against leaders and cadres of the Jagrata Muslim Janata, Bangladesh (JMJB), which also operated under the name the Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh(JMB), but spares those of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) with confirmed links to Al Qaeda of Osama bin Laden and his International Islamic Front (IIF). While the JMJB and the JMB were banned by the Government on February 23, 2005, the ban order did not extend to the HUJI. With this ban, the number of banned jihadi terrorist organisations in Bangladesh now stands at three. On February 9, 2002, the Government had banned the Shahdat al Hiqma operating in the Rajshahi region.

By the time it was banned, HuJI, an international terrorist organisation, had been involved in carrying out terrorist activities in Bangladesh for half a decade. It was behind several major bomb attacks as well as assassination attempts on former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and some leading secular intellectuals. Intelligence agencies had recommended in 2003 that HuJI be banned for the sake of the country's security. Despite being aware of the militant outfit's activities, the Government kept denying its existence over the next few years.

The ban followed the 01 October 2005 arrest of HuJI leader Mufti Abdul Hannan in Dhaka. Mufti Hannan fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion during the 1980s and was alleged to have been involved in a plot to assassinate Sheikh Hasina in 2000. He was also being questioned about the nationwide bomb blasts on 17 August 2005.

With the banning of the HuJI, the number of banned jihad organisations in Bangladesh now stood at four. The other outlawed outfits are Jamaatul Mijahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and Shahdat al Hiqma. The four outfits had been targeting intellectuals and secular politicians, who ideologically challenge the path of the radical Islamists. The theocrats also oppose NGO activity as un-Islamic alleging that these organisations spread Western ideas of women empowerment and social transformation.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton designated Harakat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. These actions were taken in consultation with the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice. In tandem with the HUJI designations, the Secretary of the Treasury also designated HUJI leader Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri under E.O. 13224 on 06 August 2010. These actions will give U.S. law enforcement additional tools needed to restrict the flow of resources to both HUJI and Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri.

In addition, on 06 August 2010, the United Nations took similar actions against Harakat-ul Jihad Islami and Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri. These actions require all UN member states to implement an asset freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo against this group and individual. Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, the State Departments Coordinator for Counterterrorism, said that the joint State and Treasury Department actions taken today, in conjunction with the United Nations listing, illustrates the international communitys resolve to counter the threat posed by HUJI and its leader Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri. Ambassador Benjamin further noted that the linkages between HUJI and al-Qaida are clear, and todays designations convey the operational relationship between these organizations.

On June 23, 2014 a Bangladesh court sentenced to death eight members of an outlawed Islamist militant group for a bombing that targeted a new year's celebration, killing 10 people and wounding dozens more. Six people were also sentenced to life in prison for the bombing, which took place in Dhaka in 2001. Mufti Abdul Hannan, the leader of the banned group Harkatul Jihad, was among those sentenced to death. The group deemed the new year's celebrations un-Islamic.

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Page last modified: 27-12-2015 19:06:11 ZULU