By Rajeev Sharma
The Daily Star, in its issue of August 4, 2011, carried a report stating that the banned radical Islamic outfit Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT) has published and circulated a huge number of pamphlets in Dhaka, throwing an open challenge to the Government by announcing its decision to hold rallies and processions in Dhaka and across the country in support of its demand for introduction of a “Khelafat” (caliphate) in the country. Posters visible at different strategic points and locations in Dhaka and its outskirts contain various calls including call for establishment of ˜khelafat “ system by overthrowing the democratically elected Awami League led Government. Saving the country’s independence and sovereignty, its natural gas and oil and creating powerful defence forces, free of the influence of the United States, the UK and India were among other demands on these pamphlet and posters. Despite being banned by the authorities in 2009, the activities of the militant outfit HuT continue unabated due to backing from a powerful lobby within the administration.
Leaders and activists of the proscribed outfit have been very active in various ways. Around 350 leaders and workers of this fundamentalist organization including its Chief Coordinator Professor Mohiuddin Ahmed of Dhaka University, senior leaders Golam Mawla, Kazi Morshedul Haque and Mahmudul Bari werearrested on October 20, 2009 when the organization was banned. The activists of the radical group were openly carrying out subversive and anti-democratic activities in support of their demand for introduction of Islamic rule in the country. HuT is an international Islamic militant group originally set up in Jerusalem in 1953 to fight for a separate Palestinian homeland. It started its activities in Bangladesh in 2000.
According to information disclosed by the recently captured Jamiatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) chief Saidur Rahman, Jihadist groups like HuT, Allahar Dal, Harkat-ul Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), Ulema Anjuman Al Baiyiniyat, Jadid Al Qaeda, and Hizbut Tauhid had decided to
form a common platform of all radical and Jehadist groups for waging Jehad to usher in Taliban-like Islamic revolution in Bangladesh to turn the country into another Afghanistan. It was further revealed that these ultra rightist groups constituted ‘Jihadist Grand Alliance’ which plans to launch offensive on Western interests in Bangladesh.
Saidur Rahman in his confessional statement said, ” rulers in the Muslim nations are puppets in the hands of United States. So, America is the main enemy of Islam. We are gaining strength to launch offensive on this country. Our initial plan is to target Western missions, establishments and individuals in Bangladesh.”
These Jihadist groups are continuing various forms of instigative propaganda through some
newspapers and periodicals in Bangladesh with the aim of attracting attention of Madrassa students in the country, and finally recruiting them as Jihadist cadres of these outfits. Quami madrassas are a breeding ground of Islamic terrorists in Bangladesh. Several newspapers and
periodicals such as Monthly Rahmat (Blessings), Daily Al-Baiyiniyat, Daily Al Insaniyat and Daily Al Ihsan, which receive generous funding from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and some West Asian countries, are amongst the publications engaged in whipping up religious passion among the youth by eulogizing terrorist activities of Al Qaeda and Taliban and supporting Jihadist ideology. Moreover, the Jihadist groups in Bangladesh publish instigative stories in these newspapers which also helps in attaining attention of potential Jihadist recruits. These publications mostly run anti-India, anti-Israel, anti-US articles and editorials, aimed at generating hatred against India, Israel and United States. Although there has been a proliferation of militant Islamic groups professing Al Qaeda ideology, it is difficult to distinguish one from the other from the point of view of their agenda / objective which remains the same â€“ anti-US, anti-Israel and anti-India.
Publication of anti-Israel, anti-US and anti-India propaganda are directly or indirectly encouraged by a section within the state machinery. While Bangladesh government is continuing offensive on JMB, HUJI and HuT, no such visible action has so far been initiated against other Jihadist outfits like Hizbut Towhid, Allahar Dal and Khatmey Nabuwat Movement. Khatmey Nabuwat is a radical Jihadist group formed under the leadership of Moulana Mumtazi and Mufti Noor Hussain Noorani in 1995. It came into open activities, spearheading a movement for declaring the Ahmadiyas as non-Muslim in Bangladesh. Ahmadiyas are a community that has been given the status of minority in Pakistan.
Dozens of Ahmadiya mosques in Dhaka and other places across Bangladesh were demolished and burnt by the militants of Khatmey Nabuwat. The BNP/JEI government in Bangladesh encouraged this group of fanatists by banning religious publications of Ahmadiyas in 2002 and appeased the Khatmey Nabuwat. But it stopped short of declaring the Ahmadiyas non-Muslim on the face of adverse international outcry.
Hizbut Towhid came into open activities since 2009 with its agenda of rejecting democratic system and institutions, thus replacing it with self-styled Sharia Law. Wazed Khan Panni alias Selim Panni is the mastermind of this notorious Jihadist outfit. He is strongly against female leadership and denounces participation of women in politics. Hizbut Towhid is continuing its orientation courses, publications and recruitments in Bangladesh.
Chief of this notorious group Mohammad Bayezid Khan Panni, operates the organization from his Uttara residence in Dhaka, but now there are a number of branches of this militant group in a number of places in Dhaka as well as other parts of the country. This group has extended its activities within Barisal, Feni, Kushtia, Madaripur, Tangail, Gazipur, Meherpur, Jhenidah, Noakhali, Khulna, Chittagong and Narshingdi districts under patronization of its active members and donors.
Like other Islamic leaders who had opposed the liberation of Bangladesh and collaborated with Pakistan, Panni fled Bangladesh after the independence in 1971 and returned in the aftermath of the murder of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman when the pro-liberation secular forces retreated creating room for the Islamist groups. Panni published a book titled “This Islam is not at all Islam” in March 1996, which the government banned on May 10, 1998. He also wrote another book named ‘Dajjal’, where he said that Jews and Christians are the evils who need to be eliminated by the Muslims. Followers of Hizbut Towhid do not believe in democracy and parliamentary government system. Activists of the militant group use iron hammer and tobacco dust when they attack opponents. Selim Panni is strongly against working women and women in politics and gives his own ‘Islamic Code’ for men to marry any number of women. His interpretation is, “women are created only for breeding children and this is their only task”
Panni projects Jews and Christians as true evils and preaches killing them or raping female
members of Jewish and Christian societies as “divine task”. He also teaches his followers to wage any type of offensives on the West. Panni considers secularist forces as ‘enemies of Islam’ and encourages his followers to kill ˜murtad” (non-believers and seculars) for “buying a place in heaven”.
In his interpretation, JMB, HUJI, HuT and other Islamist militant groups are “sacred forces of Allah” and he terms the executed JMB chief Shaikh Abdur Rahman and his deputy Bangla Bhai as the “heroes of Islam” whose services for the cause of Islam are at the same level as those of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and Taliban chief Molla Omar.
Detained Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, Nayeb-e-Amir Delwar Hossen
Sayeedi and Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid disclosed during interrogation that they were sincerely working to bring all the militant Islamic parties, including the ones recently banned by the government, under one umbrella. Ever since the AL came to power with
a massive mandate, the JEI became apprehensive that the noose would soon tighten around its top leadership as the AL government would push through the war crimes trial in which almost all JEI top leaders were involved. Hence JEI is making serious and concerted efforts to augment its political standing by consolidating friendship with other militant Islamic groups in the country as well as BNP, its alliance partner, in an attempt to subvert the process of war crimes trial as this will break the backbone of the party.
The objective is to destabilize the AL government by letting loose destabilizing forces for creating ˜civil war” like situation and pave the way for overthrowing the AL led government and its replacement by an Islamic government led by JEI. The Bangladesh government has to remain alert and should not allow the Jihadist groups to gain in strength either by continuing activities independently or in alliance. Massive offensive should immediately begin against such militant outfits.