Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh
Terrorist Group, Bangladesh
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
The HuJI-B was proscribed
by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led coalition Government on
October 17, 2005.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.