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Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B)
Terrorist Group, Bangladesh

Incidents and Statements involving (HuJI-B) :2014, 2013, 2000-2012

Formation

The Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B) was established in 1992, reportedly with assistance from Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front (IIF). On April 30, 1992, several of the HuJI-B leaders addressed a press conference at the Jatiya Press Club in capital Dhaka and demanded that Bangladesh be converted into an Islamic State.

The outfit’s activities, however, were noticed in June 1996 after the Awami League (AL) came to power.

The HuJI-B was proscribed by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led coalition Government on October 17, 2005.

Leadership

The HuJI-B is led by Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid. Imtiaz Quddus is the general secretary of the outfit. The outfit's operations commander, Mufti Abdul Hannan was arrested in Dhaka on October 1, 2005.

Objectives and Ideology

HuJI-B aims to establish Islamic Hukumat (rule) in Bangladesh by waging war and killing progressive intellectuals. It draws inspiration from bin Laden and the erstwhile Taliban regime of Afghanistan. At one point of time, the groups issued a slogan, Amra Sobai Hobo Taliban, Bangla Hobe Afghanistan (We will all become Taliban and we will turn Bangladesh into Afghanistan). HuJI-B recruits are indoctrinated in the mould of radical Islam.

Areas of Activity and Influence

The coastal area stretching from the port city of Chittagong south through Cox's Bazaar to the Myanmarese border, notorious for piracy, smuggling and arms running, is the principal area of activity of the HuJI-B.

The group reportedly maintains six camps in the hilly areas of Chittagong, where its cadres are trained in the use of weapons. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that it maintains six training camps near Cox's Bazaar.

The HuJI-B cadres allegedly also infiltrate frequently into the eastern corridor of India to maintain contacts with terrorist and subversive outfits of the region. HuJI-B has been found to be responsible for a number of terorist attacks orchatrsted in Indian urban centres in recent years.

Cadres

Although there is no authoritative information on the actual cadre strength, most reports mention it to be around 15,000. Several of these recruits were trained in the Kormi and Kasia areas of Bangladesh. Further, many hundred recruits were reportedly trained at various training camps in Afghanistan, primarily during the reign of the Taliban.

Both local residents and foreigners are recruited into the HuJI-B. Besides, refugees from Myanmar are a significant source of cadres for the outfit. They include stateless Rohingyas, whose families have fled Myanmar over the years allegedly due to religious persecution. Cadres of the HuJIB are primarily recruited from various Madrassas (seminaries). The Madrassas essentially impart religious training and most of them are financed by Arab charities. Reports also indicate that many HuJI-B recruits have seen ‘action’ in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, Chechnya and Afghanistan.

Linkages

The HuJI-B had reportedly been formed drawing inspiration from Osama bin Laden and continues to maintain active links with the Al Qaeda network and remnants of the Taliban militia.

A large number of volunteers had gone to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Mujahideen in the war against the former Soviet Union. A large number of these Mujahideen returned to Bangladesh during the BNP regime of Begum Khaleda Zia (1991-96) and are now spearheading the fundamentalist movement in the country.

The HuJI-B is also believed to be having links with Pakistan. For instance, the outfit’s ‘operations commander’ and a key suspect in the plot to assassinate the then Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, in July 2000, Mufti Abdul Hannan, after his arrest in October 2005 admitted to have passed out of the Gouhardanga Madrassa in Pakistan. Police records in Gopalganj district also says that Hannan was trained in the Pakistani city of Peshawar and then sent to Afghanistan to fight the erstwhile Soviet Army. The HuJI-B’s Pakistani link was further established with the recovery of a diary from Hannan’s brother Matiur Rehman, who was also arrested in connection with the assassination plot. Entries in the diary revealed that he was in touch with Pakistan’s diplomatic mission in Bangladesh.

Reports indicate that agents of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s external intelligence agency, under the guise of HuJI-B cadres impart military training for three months to youths of both Bangladesh and India from bases in the Kurigram and Rangpur areas of Bangladesh, near the Coochbihar border. Similar training camps reportedly also exist in Rangmari, Sundermari, Masaldanga and in other villages, where training is imparted in the use of sophisticated arms and setting off blasts. After training, the youth infiltrate into India and spread to various locations in West Bengal and States in the Northeast region, including Assam.

HuJI-B also maintain links with terrorist groups operating in India’s Northeast, including with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). The HuJI-B reportedly managed some of ULFA’s camps situated in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh along the border with the Indian State of Tripura.

The HuJI-B is also linked to another Islamist extremist outfit, the Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF) that had claimed responsibility for the January 22, 2002-attack on the American Center in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. The arrest of Aftab Ansari alias Aftab Ahmed alias Farhan Malik, the prime accused in the attack, led to further information on the linkages between the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and the HuJI based in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Ansari is reportedly linked to the ISI and to JeM terrorist Omar Shiekh, convicted for the abduction and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, in Pakistan. Ansari was reportedly asked in August 2001 in Islamabad by Omar Sheikh to provide cover and logistics support for terrorist operations from Bangladesh.

There have also been reports that a 25-member team of Taliban operatives reached Bangladesh in June 2001 to train HuJI-B cadres.

In Bangladesh, the HuJI-B is also known to have enjoyed the patronage of mainstream political parties such as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami. HuJI-B ‘operations commander’ Mufti Hannan, subsequent to his arrest on October 1, 2005 was reported to have confessed that the country’s former home and the then commerce minister, Altaf Hossain Choudhury, had assured him of protection and guaranteed his freedom following his involvement in the assassination attempt of former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in July 2000. The Jamaat-e-Islami, however, denies any links with the HuJI and dismisses such reports as propaganda.

Finance

The HuJI-B reportedly receives financial assistance from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan through Muslim Non-Governmental Organisations in Bangladesh, including the Adarsa Kutir, Al Faruk Islamic Foundation and Hataddin. It is also suspected to be generously financed by the ISI of Pakistan.

Activities

The HuJI-B intensified its subversive activities after the Awami League formed the Government in June 1996.

On February 19, 1996, 41 HuJI-B activists were arrested with firearms from Cox’s Bazaar. The arrested cadres were sentenced to life imprisonment by a court, but all of them were released on bail by the High Court after the four-party alliance assumed power in October 2001.

Three HuJI-B cadres made a failed attempt on the life of poet Shamsur Rahman at his residence in Dhaka on January 18, 1999.

It was involved in a number of incidents, including the killing of journalist Shamsur Rahman, on July 16, 2000, in Jessore. Later, police arrested 10 HuJI-B activists and sealed its office at a Dhaka suburb, Khilgaon, Interrogations revealed that HuJI-B cadres had planned to kill 28 prominent intellectuals, including National Professor Kabir Choudhury, writer Taslima Nasreen and the Director General of the Islamic Foundation, Maulana Abdul Awal.

The HuJI-B has been accused of plotting twice to assassinate the then Prime Minister and AL supremo, Sheikh Hasina in July 2000. Security forces on July 20, 2000, during routine security checks, recovered explosive devices weighing 76-kilograms at or near the places she was scheduled to visit in her native Gopalganj district, including near the venue of a public meeting she was slated to address. The key suspect in the plot was Mufti Abdul Hannan. He had allegedly been instrumental in the manufacture of the explosives at a soap factory––Sonar Bangla Chemical Industries Limited––near Gopalganj.

Mufti Abdul Hannan, on November 1, 2007, also confessed to have been instrumental in the grenade attack on the August 21, 2004 AL rally in Dhaka.

 

Incidents and Statements involving (HuJI-B): 2014, 2013, 2000-2012

 

 

 

 

 

 
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