Islamic militants coming out of hideouts taking advantages of political turmoil

Several militant outfits ‘back in action’

Members of Hefazat-e-Islam is seen in the picture

Activists belonging to banned Islamic militant groups, including Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Jam’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), and Harkatul-Jihad al Islami (HuJi), have reportedly been coming out of their hideouts taking advantage of the current political turmoil and reorganizing, to strike terror, despite massive operations by law enforcers to prevent them from doing so, sources in the intelligence said. These groups are reassembling and reportedly holding meetings at Qawmi madrasas, especially in the Chittagong district. Their members are planning to carry out sabotage activities within the next couple of months, according to the detectives. The sources claimed these militant groups were trying to garner support from the general public by spreading the rumour that many people were killed during the “Operation Secure Shapla” on May 5 at Motijheel. The groups had already contacted several militant activists, who are hiding at Qawmi madrasas, offering them huge sums of money for engaging in destructive acts. The director of intelligence wing of the elite force Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), Lt Col Ziaul Ahsan told the Dhaka Tribune that if the Hefazat activists tried to carry out subversive activities using the May 5 rumour, then stern action would be taken against them. Regarding militant activities, he said, several such groups including the Jamaat-e-Islam were trying to carry out subversive acts in the name of “Hefazat” and “Islam.” The Rab officials are aware of such acts, he added. A recent intelligence report said the ameer of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, Shah Ahmed Shafi, was one of the members of HuJi central committee, which was formed in 1991 with Mufti SafikurRahman as its chief. Later, Maulana Mohidduin of Jamiat-e-Ulama Islam, Mufti FazlulHuqAmini of Islami Okyo Jote and Mufti Shahidul of Markjul Islam also supported the HuJi’s expansion. These political groups also extended support during the formation of Shahadat-e-al-Hikma and the JMB in 1998. The JMB was banned through a government order in February 2005; Hizb-ut-Tahrir that launched operations in Bangladesh in 2000 was outlawed on October 22, 2009 and HuJi was banned in 2005, after being in operation since 1990. Regrouping and Reorganising A highly placed official of the intelligence department, requesting anonymity, said they were verifying information that several leaders of banned militant groups, including HuJi Ameer Mufti Shafikur and JMB Ameer Sohel Mahfuzhad entered the country, through the land borders, using fake identities. He said the banned groups were planning to use women in the militant attacks. Towards this end, they were bringing young madrasa girls from the bordering enclaves and training them. When contacted, ATM Habibur Rahman, director of legal and media wing of Rab, said the law enforcers had intensified vigilance in the capital and elsewhere in the country, to foil the activists’ master plan of unleashing violence in the country. In the meantime, HuJi leaders Farid Uddin and Mujahid leader Farid Uddin Masud, during interrogation told the Detective Branch (DB) of Police that HuJihad coordinated their members in Feni district, through Saidur Rahman Sayed, in Tongi area through Mufti Siraj, and in Brahmanbaria, with the help of Sanullah and Lengra Salam. They are reassembling with the financial support of a foreign agency and planning to orchestrate a massive attack in the coming months, especially ahead of and after Eid. Monirul Islam, joint commissioner of DB police, told the Dhaka Tribune that the militant groups were trying to come out of hideouts at a time when the country’s political situation is unstable. He said the intelligence departments were working to foil the plans. In earlier violent attacks, the JMB on August 17, 2005 had grabbed spotlight as a hard-core militant organization, after detonating 459 time bombs in 63 districts that left two persons dead and 50 injured. In subsequent attacks, they killed a number of people, including two judges in Jhalakathi, creating panic among the people in the country. The law enforcement agencies’ monitoring cell records say some 356 cases were filed against around 800 JMB activists while the law enforcers arrested 656. So far, around 350 activists and leaders of Hizb-ut-Tahrir have been arrested. In this regard, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Hassan Mahmood Khandker said the law enforcers were on alert to prevent any kind of sabotage activities. “Stern legal action will be taken against those who are planning such kind of acts to foil the peaceful atmosphere of the country and destroy public property.”

Source: Dhaka Tribune