Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hundreds Of Bomb Blasts In Bangladesh

Bangladesh was rocked with over 400 bomb blasts across the country. At least 115 people have been injured and at least two people killed. The Islamic militant group, Jamayetul Mujahedin, banned earlier this year by the government, has claimed responsibility.

The blasts took place across 58 of the country's 64 districts. Leaflets with verbiage like "Implement Islamic Rule in Bangladesh" and "Bush And Blair be warned and get out [Of Muslim countries]" were also recovered. The leaflets were written in Bengali and Arabic. Police said the bombs contained explosives packed in small containers and wrapped in tape, paper or sawdust-- instead of the nails or shrapnel that more deadly bombs contain. They were rigged with small battery-powered timers, and designed to cause more noise and panic than harm. A small boy was killed near Dhaka when he picked up a device. The blasts took place mainly at government offices, press clubs and courts across the country
Rediff Bangladesh

The Bangladesh government has long insisted there was no threat from Islamic militancy in the country. The Bangladesh Government rejected a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) report that had alleged that Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia's Government was "not doing enough" to prevent the country from becoming a "haven for Islamic terrorists" in South Asia. This belies that notion. (Awami League article on Growing Fanaticism and Extremism in Bangladesh). The current government is an alliance of parties, including a few Islamic fundamentalist groups, such as the Islami Oikyo Jote (IOJ).

A couple of key groups in Bangladesh:

The Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), believed to be inter-related, both banned in February 2005, and currently claiming responsibility for these attacks. The operational chief is Siddiqur Rahman also known as Bangla Bhai (Bangla brother). The spiritual leader is Moulana Abdur Rahman. According to the group, it has 10,000 well-trained full-time cadres known as Ehsar, one hundred thousand part-time cadres known as Gayeri Ehsar and a large number of sympathisers. (More info on the JMB/JMJB and the apparent crackdown in Feb 2005, also the JMB/JMJB campaign against NGOs and humanitarian organizations in Bangladesh)

The Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HuJI)(not yet banned) was established in 1992 reportedly with assistance from Osama bin Laden. The group is reportedly headed by Shawkat Osman alias Sheikh Farid. Imtiaz Quddus is the general secretary of the outfit. At one point in time the Harkat issued a slogan, Amra Sobai Hobo Taliban. Bangla Hobe Afghanistan (We will all become Taliban and we will turn Bangladesh into Afghanistan). The HuJI has an estimated membership of about 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. The group is linked with the Taliban, the outlawed ULFA in Assam, India, and reportedly supported by Pakistan's ISI, as well as the Jaish-e-Mohammed. The HuJI 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 Centre in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. (SAIR - South Asian Intelligence Review)

Intelligence analysts are seeing a resurgence in violent acts across the world, such as the assassination of the Sri Lankan foreign minister by the LTTE. This may partly be because of a failure by governments to effectively implement the UN Resolution 1373, passed after 9/11 relating to action against terrorism.

Also, purely for historical interest, the declaration of Jihad by the IIF in 1998, notably signed by "Fazlur Rahman, amir of the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh" as well as the usual suspects.

Info from someone in Bangladesh at the time

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