The Funding Methodsof Bngldeshi TerroristGroups
By Pa Cchran
bangladesh receives minimal
attentionin counterterrorism circles, theinternational media and academiadespite the large amount o Islamistviolence in the country. Occasionally,however, it enters the spotlight whenmajor incidents occur, such as themutiny by the Bangladesh Riles (BDR)in February 2009.
August 17, 2005 wasanother day that grabbed internationalattention: 459 bombs were detonatedin 63 out o 64 district towns withinseven minutes. It was an extraordinaryact o terrorism that was logisticallyimpressive, disciplined and deadly.The incident triggered a marked shitin the Bangladeshi government’s stanceon terrorism. Ater initially blamingexternal orces or the attacks—including Israel’s Mossad and India’sResearch and Analysis Wing (RAW)—the administration o Prime MinisterKhaleda Zia admitted, or the irst time,the presence o Islamist militants in thecountry, declaring Jamaatul MujahidinBangladesh (JMB)
responsible orthe blasts.
Some 743 suspects wereapprehended, and the leadership o the JMB and its ailiated party JagrataMuslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) werearrested and executed.
1 The BDR is responsible or Bangladesh’s 2,750-milelong border with India and Myanmar. On February 25,2009, more than 1,000 BDR soldiers mutinied in Dhaka,killing 56 ocers. For 36 hours, as the revolt spread to 12other towns and cities, the BDR ought the regular army beore surrendering.2 Jamaatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB) was created in1998 by Shaykh Maulana Abdur Rahman, with the aimo capturing power through arms and implementing Is-lamic law. The Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB)is an oshoot o JMB, ounded in 2003 ollowing clasheswith the police. Both organizations overlap in structureand personnel; JMB activists are oten JMJB members.3 Haroon Habib, “17 August 2005: Milestone o Terror,”in Jaideep Saika,
Bangladesh: Treading the Taliban Trail
(New Delhi: Vision Books, 2006), p. 252. The JMB letleafets at the blast sites, declaring: “We’re the soldierso Allah. We’ve taken up arms or the implementation o Allah’s law the way the Prophet, Sahabis and heroic mu- jahidin have done or centuries…it is time to implementIslamic law in Bangladesh.”4 The six leaders were hung on April 30, 2007. See the
Today, Bangladesh aces threats rom notonly JMB, but rom a number o Islamistterrorist groups.
These organizationsare resurgent with inancing comingrom numerous sources, most notablynon-governmental organizations (NGO).While legislation exists to curb illicitinancing, it aces numerous obstacles.This article will outline the variousIslamist militant groups in Bangladesh,and then address the known andsuspected inancing methods o suchgroups and the obstacles aced incountering terrorist inancing.
Bngldeshi Terrorist Groups
Nearly our years since the August2005 bombings, JMB has resuracedunder new leadership. Raids by thearmed orces in Dhaka and elsewherehave regularly uncovered JMB armscaches, ammunition, and literature.
Out o the country’s 29 to 33 possibleterrorist groups,
only our areoicially banned: JMB, Harkat-ul- Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B), JMJB, and Shahadat-e al Hikma.
Morethan 100 Islamic political parties andorganizations exist.
Bangladesh Assessment 2008
at the South Asia TerrorismPortal, located at www.satp.org. For inormation on thearrested suspects, see “Intelligence Focused Only on Ac-cused JMB Men,”
, October 28, 2008.5 “Lack o Policy Aecting Fight Against Militancy inBangladesh,” Indo-Asian News Service, October 26,2008. A detailed list o the organizations can be ound in
Bangladesh Awami League Newsletter
4:4 (2005).6 According to
The Daily Star
in Dhaka, 35 out o the 50most wanted JMB cadres are still active in our northerndistricts.7 “Lack o Policy Aecting Fight Against Militancy inBangladesh.” A detailed list o the organizations can beound in
Bangladesh Awami League Newsletter
4:4 (2005).8 Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B), aDeobandi group, is aliated with the Pakistan-basedHuJI, and was ormed by 17 Bangladeshi mujahidin thatreturned rom Aghanistan, allegedly with nancial helprom al-Qa`ida. Shahadat-e al Hikma (SAH) announcedin 2003 that it planned to launch an armed struggle toturn Bangladesh into an Islamic state. It was promptly banned. Its chie, Sayed Kawsar Hussain Siddiki Raja,stated at the time that SAH had 10,000 “commandos”and 25,000 ghters. SAH has since gone underground.9 Shakhawat Liton, “Islamic Parties Boom ater 1976 BanLiting,”
The Daily Star
[Dhaka], August 29, 2006. A con-stitutional ban on religious parties was repealed in 1976.Liton notes that there are no exact gures on the num- ber o parties with either the government or the ElectionCommission.
The Indian government, on the otherhand, claims that there are 50 Islamicmilitant groups operating in Bangladesh,and has accused Dhaka o harboring148 arms training centers.
“The levelo operational terrorism is as active asa ew years back; we’ve had extensivelevels o terrorism,” explained MajorGeneral (Rtd.) Muniruzzaman, thepresident o the Bangladeshi Institute o Peace and Strategic Studies (BIPSS) inDhaka. “People who say we don’t have aproblem are in a state o denial.”
While militant groups have carried outterrorist attacks within Bangladesh—although none on the scale o the 2005 bombings—there has been increasedactivity in India in recent years, as wellas links to Indian groups.
HuJI-B,which has ties to al-Qa`ida,
is allegedlycarrying out contract activities in Indiato garner international recognitionand obtain unds, explosives andmunitions.
Reports in the Indian presshave also indicated Bangladeshi links toterrorist attacks in Bangalore and NewDelhi,
as well as the Mumbai attackson November 26, 2008.
10 Personal interview, Colonel Satinder Saini (rtd.), In-stitute o Deence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, Sep-tember 24, 2008.11 Personal interview, Major General Muniruzzaman(rtd.), Dhaka, November 24, 2008 and April 22, 2009.12 India’s Union Home Ministry in its 2007-2008 An-nual Report stated: “The hand o Pakistan-based terroristorganizations—Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mo-hammed (JeM)—and, increasingly o the Bangladesh- based HuJI, known to have close links with the InterServices Intelligence, has been observed in most cases”o terrorist attacks in India. New Delhi has also accusedHuJI o providing grenades to the LeT in India, in addi-tion to coordinating attacks in India with the Students’Islamic Movement o India (SIMI), the LeT and JeM.13 Rohan Gunaratna,
Inside Al Qaeda: Global Networkof Terror
(New Delhi: Roli Books, 2003), p. 219; BruceVaugh, “Islamist Extremism in Bangladesh,” Congres-sional Service Report, January 17, 2007.14 Personal interview, Major General Muniruzzaman(rtd.), Dhaka, November 24, 2008 and April 22, 2009.15 “Delhi Police Launches Drive to Deport Illegal Immi-grants,”
Press Trust of India
, July 13, 2008.16 Personal interview, Major General Muniruzzaman(rtd.), Dhaka, April 22, 2009. According to one report,the Thuraya satellite phone recovered rom the shingtrawler the terrorists used to reach Mumbai containedrecords o a conversation between Lashkar-i-Tayyibachie Yusu Muzammil in Muzaarabad, Kashmir, and“Yahya,” a point man or LeT and HuJI in Bangladesh.Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency committee re-port also has a reerence to HuJI’s involvement, and there
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