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Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB)
Jamaat Ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)
Jama'at ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)

JMB began as a small militant Islamist organization but quickly expanded in scope to coordinate a national wave of near simultaneous bombings in 2005. There is sufficient fertile ground in Bangladesh for jihadi ideology, given the country's high unemployment rate and fluid political situation.

There is the extreme lack of information on the profile of JMB and its top leadership. Hardly anything is known about it from official sources. What is known in this regard is from media investigations and observations of columnists. But these investigations, to a large extent, are incomplete. Some sources report the group has close links with the Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, while others claim that in fact the two organisations are one and the same. Some sources claim that Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and JMB are same organisation.

After parting from Harkatul Jihad, the Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB) was founded in 1998 by Shaikh Abdur Rahman, a religious preacher educated in Saudi Arabia. Though its exact date of origin remains disputed, the group came to limelight when eight of its cadres were arrested in May 2002. The organisation is suspected to be the youth wing of the Al Mujahideen, a group established in mid-1990s whose existence remains obscure till date.

The group campaigns for the imposition of the Shariah Law in Bangladesh through armed revolution. It is opposed to democracy and identifies it to be un-Islamic. The organisation is also against cultural functions. JMB has been held responsible for attacking many cultural and theatrical events during the rule of BNP-Jamaat coalition. The groups also targets judiciary as it recognizes contrary to the Islamic law. Minorities are also target of this group. Despite being banned by the government, the JMB members are trying to regroup and launch clandestine operations.

A crack-down, without a formal ban order, had been ordered by PM Khaleda Zia after a bomb explosion at Dinajpur on 13 February 2003, and after a gunfight on 14 August 2003, between the police and JMB activists in Joypurhat. But after the invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition, the crack-down petered out due to government fears that a continuing crack-down at a time of mounting Islamic anger against the US could act like a red rag to the bull. All those arrested between February and August, 2003, were ordered to be released and not many were prosecuted in courts.

On 17 August 2005, the JMB claimed responsibility for the serial bombings across Bangladesh when 459 bombs were detonated in 63 out of 64 district towns within seven minutes. Cities and towns across Bangladesh were rocked by dozens of near simultaneous bomb blasts, triggering widespread panic. Officials say small bombs exploded at government buildings, courts and other key installations in at least 13 cities, including the capital, Dhaka, and the southern port city of Chittagong. Three persons were killed and 100 others injured in the blasts. It was an extraordinary act of terrorism that was logistically impressive, disciplined and deadly. About 400 suspects had been arrested from different parts of the country in connection with the 17 August 2005 bombings.

The 17 August 2005 bombings were the high point of terrorist mobilisation across the country. The incident triggered a marked shift in the Bangladeshi government’s stance on terrorism. After initially blaming external forces for the attacks—including Israel’s Mossad and India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)—the administration of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia admitted, for the first time, the presence of Islamist militants in the country, declaring Jamaatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB) responsible for the blasts.

This led to an ostensibly frantic search for the JMB Chief Abdur Rahman and the Jagrata Janata Muslim Bangladesh (JMJB) commander Bangla Bhai, backed by a Government reward of US $152,000 for information leading to their arrests. Both the leaders had been able to elude the ‘long’ arm of the law, though some 300 non-descript Islamist militants had been arrested from various districts across the country. Eventually some 743 suspects were apprehended, and the leadership of the JMB and its affiliated party Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) were arrested and executed.

On 14 November 2005, two Assistant Judges of the Jhalakathi District, Jagannath Pandey and Sohel Ahmed, on the way to their Courts, were bombed to death by a katel (killer) squad member of the Jama’at-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh. The assassin, Mamun Ali, was caught by the locals and handed over to the police. The incident was the first of its kind in the country.

Since the 2005 attacks, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen launched a series of suicide attacks on courthouses, killing 25 people in total. They group had been suspected of lying low since six of its leaders were executed in 2007, but recently they appear to have become active again - including launching an attack on a Shiite shrine and shooting three foreigners, two of whom lost their lives.

In 2007, Bangladeshi authorities executed six JMB leaders for killing two judges and masterminding a series of bombings across the country in 2005 that killed some 30 people. In March 2007 JMB’s top leadership including it’s supreme commander Maulana Abdur Rahman and second in command Bangla Bhai and four other Majlish- e Sura members were executed as they were found guilty of killing two judges in Jhalakatti in November 2005.

Prior to March 2007 the group had three leaders, the supreme commander Maulana Abdur Rahman, second in command Bangla Bhai and Dr. Asadullah Galib, leader of Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh. Dr. Galib, a teacher of Arabic language in Rajshahi University was arrested in 2005. The group also had a seven member Mujlish e shura, which looked into the operational activities. However, there is no accurate information about its strength. But some reports claimed that it had 10,000 fulltime and 100,000 part-time cadresv. It’s cadres are recruited from varied backgrounds including university teachers, madrasa students and ordinary people. Although, the activities of Bangla Bhai were mainly in southern Bangladesh but the group has networks across the country.

The group received funding from different sources like individual donors from countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. Funding also comes via NGO’s which under cover of establishing different welfare institutions like orphanage, madrasas and dispensaries facilitating the group to continue with it’s activities. Security forces recovered large amount of arms and ammunitions from a madrasa run by an UK based charity organisation Green Crescent that is suspected to have links with JMB.

The group is notorious for using bombs. It’s cadres are trained in bomb making. It was able to carry out country wide bomb blasts in August 2005 where 500 bombs were planted in 64 districts. In May 2009 its explosive expert Boma Mizan was arrested. The militant organization has also been involved in targeting foreigners. On 03 October 2015, it shot dead a Japanese farmer in northern Bangladesh.

Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, a banned terrorist outfit, was planning to destabilise the democratically-elected government in Bangladesh by establishing a network in India, an official of the National Investigating Agency said on March 30, 2015. "During the course of investigation in the Burdwan blast in West Bengal, it has been found that the clear motive of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) was to overthrow the democratically-elected government in Bangladesh," a senior official of the National Investigating Agency (NIA) told reporters here after filing a chargesheet in the blast case.

Bangladeshi authorities arrested seven suspected militants of the banned Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB) organization 24 December 2015. The move came a day after Pakistan recalled its diplomat from Dhaka over her alleged links with the same banned outfit. They also seized 16 home-made bombs, suicide vests and explosive material, which the authorities said could be used in planned attacks over the New Year period. The suspects exploded bombs as police began their raid. No injuries were reported. Officials cordoned off the building and evacuated the residents.

The raid came just days after a suspected JMB member, Idris Sheikh, told a court in Dhaka that he had ties with a female Pakistani diplomat, whose name was quoted by local media as Farina Arshad. Shiekh told police detectives that he had received financial assistance from Arshad for his espionage trial.

The Pakistani mission in Dhaka dismissed the claims as "utterly baseless media reports… maligning a female diplomat stationed in Dhaka." Pakistan recalled Arshad from the capital, according to a Bangladeshi official. "The female second secretary of the high commission was sent back to Islamabad this afternoon, two days after Dhaka informally asked for her departure," the official at the Bangladeshi foreign ministry told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

Bangladesh's Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the government would take action against Arshad if the allegations against her were proven to be credible.

JMB was spreading its base in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Assam. These bases were being used for organising radicalisation programmes, organisational meetings, fund collection drives, hideouts for cadres, recruitment and training. During NIA search operations, it had been found that a network of terrorist training camps at selected madrasas and other hide-outs was found to be in operation where youths were indoctrinated into violent jihadi ideology.

Five members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen were handed a decade-long prison sentence 18 January 2016. They were found guilty of aiding a string of bombing attacks in 2005 aimed at imposing Sharia law in the moderate Muslim nation. The Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen terrorist group detonated almost 500 bombs nearly simultaneously on August 17, 2005 across 300 locations in 50 Bangladeshi cities. Despite the impressive number of explosives, the attacks resulted in only two fatalities, a child and a rickshaw driver.

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Page last modified: 18-01-2016 18:37:38 ZULU