Saturday, February 26, 2005

BANGLADESH: Islamic Groups 22-26FEB [14 NEWS CLIPPINGS]

HEADLINE IN CLIPPINGS

01. Ahab men on the run, JMJB flouts ban
02. PM orders rooting out Islamist militants
03. 11 more militants held with bomb parts
04. JMJB mentor Rahman evades probing eyes
05. Target to catch 20 militant leaders
06. Govt finally cracks down on militants; Galib arrested
07. JMJB, Jama'atul behind bomb attacks: Home ministry
08. Islamist militancy is a propaganda by media: Saifur
09. 15 'militants' held in north - confess to training for Islamic revolution
10. JMJB plans to attack police camps to build armoury
11. Bomb hoax at Brac HQ
12. Hasina terms PM's Bangla Bhai arrest order a hoax
13. Grenade blast at Moulvibazar shrine- Imam, madrasa teacher held
14. 12 militants held with important materials

READ BANGLADESH ISLAMIC GROUPS REPORTS 12-19FEB



26/02/2005


01. Ahab men on the run, JMJB flouts ban

2 more JMB members arrested
Staff Correspondent, Rajshahi

When leaders and diehard workers of Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh (Ahab) are going into hiding to avoid arrest, many Jagrata Muslim Janata, Bangladesh (JMJB) activists are still in action in Bagmara flouting the ban on their outfit.

Not only in Rajshahi, Ahab members in Khulna and Satkhira have also been fleeing their homes and madrasas following the arrest of their amir Dr Muhammad Asadullah Al Galib, an Arabic teacher at Rajshahi University, and his three top aides last Wednesday.

Panic gripped Ahab operatives yesterday as a large contingent of paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) was deployed at Salafi Madrasa and teams of Armed Police Battalion kept vigil at almost all Ahab mosques and madrasas in Rajshahi division from a suspicion that Ahab might launch retaliatory agitation after Juma prayers.

The number of law enforcers, already huge, assigned to hunt down Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and JMJB members and to contain any retaliation by the banned organisations, was further increased yesterday in Rajshahi division and elsewhere.

Police yesterday arrested two more members of the banned Islamist militant group JMB in Shibganj upazila of Chapai-nawabganj district.

UNB reports: Local leaders of Ahab at a protest meeting held on Shukul Patti central Ahle Hadith Mosque premises in Natore yesterday afternoon demanded the release of their leaders and workers including Galib. Presided over by Ahab Natore District Committee President Maulana Babar Ali, the speakers denied any relation between militancy and Ahab or Galib. They said their leaders, including Galib, fell victims to a conspiracy.

JMJB ACTIVITIES CONTINUE

Quoting witnesses, a local daily yesterday reported that some 50 JMJB members had gathered in a meeting at the house of a Islamic fundamentalist leader in Bhabani-ganj Bazar on Thursday noon.

A lecturer at a women's college of Bagmara chaired the gathering. The report however did not name anyone.

Sources in Bagmara said JMJB leaders in many areas have been seen busy organising their fellow workers. Among them are JMJB Bagmara unit president Lutfar Rahman, a professor at Atrai Mollah Azad Memorial College who had led the group's Rajshahi march on May 23 last year, Sakoa college teacher Shahidullah, Bhabaniganj college teachers Abed Ali, Abdur Razzak and Kalimuddin, Ibrahim of Jhikra and Akkas of Goalkandi.

JMJB was banned along with JMB concurrently with Galib's arrest on Wednesday.

NO LEGAL ACTION AGAINST AHAB YET

Since Wednesday's crackdown, police neither have arrested any other associate of Galib, the suspected kingpin of Islamist militants in the western region, nor have seized any document from Galib's office or Ahab-run madrasas.

According to sources, lists of Ahab-affiliated madrasa teachers including several mujahids (crusaders) trained abroad and specially chosen imams and muezzins of Ahab mosques are there among the documents.

Rajshahi Metropolitan Police (RMP) at the moment also do not plan any further legal action against Galib, his second-in-command Ahab Nayeb-e-Amir Shaikh Abdus Samad Salafi, General Secretary Moulana Nurul Islam and Organising Secretary ASM Azizullah nabbed early Wednesday.

"The arrests were made on secret directives from government high-ups and according to requisitions from three police stations outside Rajshahi. We [RMP] are not involved in the actions to follow their arrests. Everything is running as per the decisions made in the capital," said a top-level source at RMP.

Shah Mokhdum Police Station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Aslam Iqbal told The Daily Star that Galib and his associates were arrested under Section 54 of the CrPC on their suspected involvement in a number of cases filed with different police station. Among the cases are one for murder and one on a bomb attack filed with Shahjahanpur Police Station, one bomb attack case with Gabtali Police Station and a robbery case with Kotalipara Police Station in Bogra and Gopalganj districts.

Iqbal said Galib's aides were held on suspicion of their involvement in the Kotalipara robbery only.

"The police stations concerned will take the necessary legal actions. RMP also can do the same if instructed to," said the RMP source.

HOW AHAB WORKS

Every student of the nearly 700 Ahab madrasas across the country must work with a suitable front organisation of Ahab, sources said yesterday.

For example, students up to Class Seven work with Sonamoni, the children's wing of Ahab, while students of upper classes are usually involved with Ahle Hadith Jubo Shangha, Ahab's youth wing, until they are mature enough for Ahab membership, said Hussain, an Alim student at Salafi Madrasa.

Besides, Ahab has its own process of recruiting imams and muezzins for its mosques. "Just anybody can't be an imam at our mosques. Our imams are trained on how to bring about a social revolution through preaching and know how to recruit new members," said a teacher at Salafi Madrasa.

Sources in intelligence agencies said the Ahab mosques built with the funds from Hayatul Igachha of Saudi Arabia and Revival of Islamic Heritage Society of Kuwait are used as strongholds of the JMJB led by Abdur Rahman.

GALIB PREACHES ARMED STRUGGLE

Ahab Amir Galib advocates armed struggle to bring about an Islamic revolution in the country, according to a book on jihad authored by him that The Daily Star obtained yesterday.

The book titled 'Daoat O Jihad' (invitation and crusade) is a transcription of a speech Galib delivered at an Ahab conference in 1991.

At its end, he said, "At every village, there will be a team of mujahids committed to reconstructing the society and reforming their personal, family and social lives according to the dictums of the Holy Qur'an and Hadith…

We want pure Islamic politics, not political Islam."

In the speech, he named many past and present-day mujahids and narrated their heroic deeds to inspire his audience for an armed uprising.

SALAFI PATH

Galib has been running a monthly magazine titled At-Tahreek for eight years. In the Internet edition of the magazine, Ahab says it follows the 'Salafi Path'.

Talking to newsmen earlier, Galib and Abdus Samad Salafi (whose faith is also evident from the title he uses at the end of his name) had declared themselves as believers in Salafi movement.

Alliance for Security, a programme run by Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, said in its website that the majority of over 30 million Salafi adherents are peaceful. But a minority section believes in violence for staging an Islamic revolution.

Salafis have influenced a number of radical movements in Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. More recently, in countries like Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq, the Salafi movement has been growing and gaining strength.

Their power has expanded beyond national borders, for they now have regional influence, the Alliance website says, adding their ideologues include figures like Abdullah Azam, an inspiration to Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

THOSE WHO MAY KNOW BANGLA BHAI'S WHEREABOUTS

While police forces are reportedly conducting a countrywide manhunt for Bangla Bhai, locals of Bagmara yesterday said four people, two of them already under arrest, may help police track down the dreaded JMJB operations commander.

One of them, Prof Lutfar Rahman of Atrai, worked closely with Bangla Bhai as the JMJB Bagmara upazila chief and went into hiding with him when Prime Minister Khaleda Zia ordered his arrest last year.

During an interview on February 6 at a hideout in a remote village in Bagmara, Lutfar had claimed to The Daily Star, "Bangla Bhai's Bahini just helped the people of Bagmara defend themselves against [communist] outlaws. And those killed and tortured in its camps are none but outlaws."

However, he had denied his active involvement with JMJB, claiming, "I just spoke at several meetings organised by Bangla Bhai's group."

Another of the four men, Abdus Sattar Mastar, a teacher at Jatragachhi Fazil Madrasa and Bagmara upazila JMJB general secretary, was arrested on January 25. The arrest was made after Mahbub Hossain Dewan, publicity secretary of Awami League (AL) Taherpur Municipal Ward No. 9, had been bombed to death by JMJB militants while fleeing after a failed attempt on the life of Sreepur AL President Mokbul Mridha.

Sattar Master had always been seen beside Bangla Bhai during JMJB operations against communist outlaws in mid-2004. Police arrested Sattar Master while he was conducting a meeting of JMJB leaders.

The third man named by locals is Mustafizur Rahman Mostaque, organising secretary of Bagmara JMJB. He was also arrested in Dewan murder case on January 28. And the fourth man thought to know about the JMJB second-in-command's whereabouts is Mamunur Rashid Mamun, who could evade arrest when Mostaque was nabbed.

2 MORE ARRESTS

Two JMB members were arrested in the early hours yesterday in a house at Kagmari village in Shibganj upazila of Chapainawabganj, reports BSS.

Police said Qaree Nazrul, a teacher at Shibganj Hajardighi Islamia Madrasa, and Nurul Islam, a teacher at Chandpur Dakhil Madrasa, were held on the basis of information provided by some people arrested earlier in other northeastern districts.

Police produced the two before a court yesterday and the court sent them to jail.


25/02/2005

02. PM orders rooting out Islamist militants
Plans additional High Court bench to try extremists

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia yesterday instructed the home ministry and the intelligence agencies to root out the Islamist militants, their hideouts and subversive activities.

She also decided in principle to set up an additional bench at the High Court to ensure speedy trial of cases on subversive acts, highly placed sources said.

Khaleda held several rounds of meetings with officials of home ministry, police and intelligence agencies yesterday and asked them to take strong actions against all activities in the name of jihad.

The prime minister said those who have been creating anarchy in the name of religion are the enemies of the nation and the country, adding all of them will be punished.

These extremists must not be bailed out, she told police officials during a meeting at the International Conference Centre at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

Khaleda instructed the law enforcers to arrest anyone involved in crime, even if he belongs to a ruling party. She also warned that any misuse of power and corruption by police will not be tolerated.

The prime minister observed, with an improvement in law and order scenario, the country's image will improve and foreign investment will increase.

State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar, Inspector General of Police Ashraful Huda and high officials of different intelligence agencies were among those who met the prime minister yesterday.

Khaleda also asked the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), Armed Police Battalion and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) to keep a close watch on their areas of operations.

A highly placed source at the home ministry said intelligence networks have been strengthened across the country and special teams of BDR and police have been put on standby in all districts, prepared to strike quickly upon information on any secret congregation.


25/02/2005

03. 11 more militants held with bomb parts
Gaibandha Islamists disclose Bangla Bhai, Galib had set up JMJB network two years back

Eleven alleged activists of the banned Islamist militant group Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) have been arrested from different places in Dinajpur and Thakurgaon districts.

During the arrests, police seized bomb-making materials, dummy rifles, printers, acid, electric wires, batteries, leaflets and some other materials from the house of one arrested.

Tipped off, police rushed to a village mosque in Parbatipur upazila and caught three of the activists while they were campaigning to recruit members for JMB.

The three were identified as Abu Bakar Siddique, 22, of Haldibari village under Parbatipur; Abu Iahia, 25, of the same village; and Abdur Rashid, 35, of village Shikdarhat of Sadar upazila.

Three more JMB members were nabbed from a mosque in Thakurgaon town and one from Laxmipur village in Sadar upazila of the district.

Thakurgaon police caught the three youths after raiding the Water Development Board mosque.

The arrested were identified as Amanatullah, 26, of Khalpara in the town; Mamunur Rashid, 22, of Dinajpur; and Mahbub Alam, 27, of Sadar upazila.

Acting on information from Mahbub, police arrested Asiruddin from his house at Laxmipur and seized bomb-making materials, dummy rifles, printers, acid, electric wires, batteries, leaflets, toll receipts, some leaflets and a motor cycle.

After quizzing the arrestees, police later arrested three more militants including 'moazzin' of Tatipara village mosque Abdul gaffur, 35; and Imam of Thakurgaon sugarcane research institute mosque Imam Moklesur Rahman, 31.

Police also recorded some important information from them.

Top police officials said the JMB might have a network in different upazilas of the two districts and led the arrestees.

Thakurgaon police also held one more JMB cadre on Wednesday night but his identity could not be known.

GAIBANDHA MILITANTS REMANDED

A magistrate court yesterday remanded the 12 JMB militants arrested Wednesday following their confession to police, reports Our Correspondent in Gaibandha.

Police claimed to have gathered some important information about their network and activities in the area.

The arrested also disclosed that Siddiqur Rahman (Bangla Bhai), under the guidance of Dr Asadullah Galib, set up an organisational network of Jagrata Muslim Janata of Bangladesh in remote areas two years back. During that period, Bangla Bhai frequently visited the areas in disguise for recruitment and training.

25/02/2005

04. JMJB mentor Rahman evades probing eyes

Although the government has at last launched a crackdown on Islamist militants, it has yet to make any move to arrest Moulana Abdur Rahman, the brains behind the banned Jagrata Muslim Janata, Bangladesh (JMJB), which also operates as Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh(JMB).

While Bangla Bhai, the operations commander of JMJB, is now on a wanted criminals' list, the organisation's 'shaekh' (spiritual leader) Abdur Rahman has managed to keep himself clear of police targets, and is safely running his organisation from his base at Jamalpur Madrasa, sources said.

A former Jamaat activist, Rahman's identity as JMJB chief was exposed by an investigation report run by The Daily Star in May 2004. But the government did not take any step responding to the news.

Rahman's name along with those of Bangla Bhai and Rajshahi University teacher Asadullah Al Galib repeatedly came out in confessional statements made by a number of militants arrested in the northern districts in recent months. The detainees also confessed that the recent bomb attack in Jamalpur had been planned at a local madrasa and executed as directed by JMJB chief Rahman.

In an interview with The Daily Star last May, Rahman admitted that he has secretly been operating JMJB since 1998. He also said that he did not want to go public, but the Bangla Bhai controversy had forced him to go to Rajshahi to tackle the situation.

Rahman came out in public when Bangla Bhai, allegedly sheltered by several BNP lawmakers, led a spate of killings in Rajshahi, Natore and Naogaon region early last year.

Born in Charshi village in Sadar upazila of Jamalpur district, Rahman runs Al-Madina Islamic Cadet Madrasa and a mosque in Jamalpur. Saudi non-government organisation Rabeta-e-Islam and another NGO named Islami Oitijjho Sangstha provided him with the financial assistance to establish those institutions.

He claimed that JMJB is headquartered in Dhaka, but he refused to disclose the address. "When the time comes, we will inform you," Bangla Bhai, accompanying Rahman during the interview, had said.

JMJB has trained some 10,000 full-time activists across the country and it spends up to Tk 7 lakh on them a month, Rahman said. Majlish-e-Shura is the highest decision making body of the organisation. Rahman is the amir while Bangla Bhai is one of seven members of the Shura.

The members and supporters are split into three tiers. The first tier has activists called Ehsar, who are recruited on a full-time basis, and act at the directive of the higher echelons, he added. The second tier, Gayeri Ehsar, has over one lakh part-time activists while the third one involves those who indirectly cooperate with the outfit.

"We divided the country into nine organisational divisions," Rahman said adding that Khulna, Barisal, Sylhet and Chittagong each has a divisional office.

Rahman's father, late Moulana Abdullah Ibne Fazal, was a member of Jamiatul Ahle Hadith, which is now led by arrested RU teacher Galib. Moulana Fazal was accused of collaborating with the Pakistani forces during the Liberation War of 1971.

During his student life, Rahman joined Islami Chhatra Shibir and later Jamaat-e-Islami. In the early 1980s, he studied at Madina Islami University in Saudi Arabia and worked at the Saudi Embassy in Dhaka for five years beginning in 1985.He travelled to many countries including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Malaysia.

He renamed Jama'atul Mujahideen (JMB) Bangladesh Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) after a fight between his disciples and the police at JMB's secret training camp in Joypurhat in August 2003. In the wake of the 'encounter', police arrested his brother Ataur Rahman Ibne Abdullah along with 18 other militants. But a few days later, they were released while the higher authorities transferred several police officials reportedly for making the arrests.

The government on February 23 banned both JMJB and JMB for alleged involvement in bomb attacks and other subversive acts.

25/02/2005

05. Target to catch 20 militant leaders
Rab gets special instructions, high alert on borders


The law-enforcers are hunting at least 20 Islamist militant leaders including Bangla Bhai in the northern region as part of the ongoing crackdown.

Border forces have been put on high alert and instructed to keep vigil so that the militant leaders cannot leave the country, well-placed sources said.

The photos and profiles of the militant leaders have been sent to different border points, the sources added but declined to disclose the names.

Intelligence sources said all the leaders are still hiding in the country and they have spread rumours of leaving the country only to deceive the law-enforcers.

The government has launched the crackdown following investigation that found the militant groups' link with the series of bomb blasts across the country.

The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) is learnt to have been given special instructions for intensifying operations to net the militant leaders as the police failed to do so.

"Operation has been intensified in the whole northern region," said Captain Shahriar of Rab-5, when asked about the combing operation against militants.

The government on Wednesday banned Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) as the first step to halt militant activities.

Sources said the list of 20 militant leaders has been prepared on the confessional statements of their operatives arrested in the last few weeks from different districts.

The arrestees have confessed to their involvement in bomb blasts at social, cultural and religious functions as well as Brac and Grameen Bank offices across the country.

During interrogation, the arrestees disclosed several names including those of JMJB leader Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, his spiritual leader Moulana Abdur Rahman and Ahle Hadith Anodolon Bangladesh (Ahab) chief Dr Asadullah al Galib.

A government press note issued on the ban of the militant organisations JMJB and JMB on Wednesday said the series of murders, bomb attacks and robbery incidents prompted the government to intensify police vigil all over the country.

The press note mentioned the arrest of a number of suspects in Bogra, Joypurhat, Sirajganj, Gaibandha, Moulvibazar, Gopalganj, Dhamrai and Savar and seizure of explosives and "objectionable books and booklets".

Some of the suspects said they all are members of JMJB and JMB and engaged in criminal activities. In identical statements, they claimed Bangla Bhai and Rajshahi University teacher Galib to be their leaders, the press note read.

Several high officials on condition of anonymity said the government has engaged Rab in cracking down on the militant leaders following the failure of the police.

Besides, the reports of some police officials' relations with Bangla Bhai and patronage of his activities also prompted the government to deploy Rab, said sources.

Our Rajshahi correspondent reports: Red alert has been announced in all 16 districts of Rajshahi division amid intensified watch on militant-prone areas.

Police were seen patrolling at different points of Rajshahi town.

Armed Police Battalion men have been deployed at Dr Galib's madrasa at Naodapara area to stop agitation by Galib's men.




24/02/2005

06. Govt finally cracks down on militants; Galib arrested
Bans JMJB, JMB, combs for Bangla Bhai; 16 more Islamists held


Waking up to the militants' threat, the government at last banned Islamist outfits Jagrata Muslim Janata, Bangladesh (JMJB) and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) yesterday accusing them of a series of bomb attacks and killings to create anarchy.

The ban following a persistent denial by the government of the existence of JMJB throughout last year coincided with yesterday's arrest of Dr Muhammad Asadullah Al Galib, chief of another Islamist militant outfit Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh (Ahab), with three of his top associates in Rajshahi.

Three JMB operatives in Gaibandha and two in Rangpur and two JMJB activists in Rajshahi were also arrested yesterday in the belated crackdown on Islamist militants, particularly in the North.

Although newspapers in the last few days have revealed a long track of militant links and activities of Rajshahi University Arabic teacher Galib, police arrested him under Section 54. Police said the arrest was made on requests from three police stations in Bogra and Gopalganj, where a number of Islamist militants arrested for murder, bomb attacks and robbery had linked him with the incidents.

Sources said the government took the steps under pressure from the donors and diplomatic quarters in the wake of an alarming rise in militant attacks across the country that claimed scores of lives in the last few months.

But State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar denied any foreign pressure. "We did not receive any international pressure to ban them. The government has done it out of its sense of responsibility," he told the BBC Bangla Service last night.

However, much to the concerns of rights organisations home and abroad, political parties, civil society and media, JMJB Amir Moulana Abdur Rahman and Operations Commander Bangla Bhai are still at large.

"It has not been possible to arrest Bangla Bhai. We feel very disturbed and embarrassed for this. Though we have been putting extreme pressure on police to catch Bangla Bhai, he could not be tracked down," Babar said.

But, on January 26, this minister had told the BBC: "We have no official knowledge of the existence of JMJB. Only certain so-called newspapers have been running reports on it. We have no record that any such group has formed."

And, even after yesterday's banning of the JMJB and JMB for bomb attacks and killings, Babar claimed to the BBC Radio there is no militant organisation in the country.

"We've taken steps whenever we received such information," he said, adding the move will be on.

Announcing the ban a home ministry press note yesterday afternoon said JMJB and JMB have been carrying out a series of murders, robberies, bomb attacks, threats and various kinds of terrorist acts. It said these people have been trying to create a social unrest by misleading a group of youths misusing their religious sentiments.

A Rab press release later in the night said a huge number of police and Rab members yesterday raided different areas in Rajshahi, Bagmara upazila and Chapainawabganj districts and arrested one Shafikul Islam at Shibganj in Chapainawabganj.

In the early morning yesterday, police conducted a combing operation in two unions under Saghata upazila of Gaibandha district looking for Bangla Bhai. They raided the house of his father-in-law Ibrahim Ali at Akanderpur village in Jumarbari union and picked him up for questioning. Ali, a madrasa teacher, was released later on condition to inform police the whereabouts of Bangla Bhai.

Immediately after the ban had been announced, law forcers conducted a raid at Dhanmondi in the capital in search of Bangla Bhai. They have been raiding different city areas including Kalabagan and Kathalbagan until filing of this report 1:00am today.

With yesterday's ban, the number of banned Islamist organisations now stands at three. On February 9, 2002, the government banned Shahdat al Hiqma operating in the Rajshahi region.

GALIB'S ARREST

Our Rajshahi correspondent reports: Police arrested Galib, his second-in command Ahab Nayeb-e-Amir Shaikh Abdus Samad Salafi, Ahab General Secretary Moulana Nurul Islam and Organising Secretary ASM Azizullah in the early hours yesterday.

Salafi is also the principal of Salafi Dakhil Madrasa run by Ahab-sponsored organisation Al Markajul Islami. Nurul Islam is a lecturer of Islamic Studies at Gangni Degree College in Meherpur district and Azizullah a librarian at Atrai Degree College of Mohonpur in Rajshahi.

Police also arrested JMJB activists Mojnur Rahman Boltu and Kurban Ali in Bagmara yesterday evening for their alleged involvement in an attack on policemen from a JMJB procession on January 24.

"ISLAMIST MOVEMENT WON'T CEASE”

"Whether we are hanged or jailed, our movement for Islam will continue", Galib told The Daily Star standing in court custody yesterday.

Reiterating that the allegations against him were made and guided by a vested quarter "either to harm our positive movement or to hide the real culprits", he claimed he and his associates were not involved in any of the charges police brought against them.

He pointed a finger at two people expelled from his organisation in 2001 for what he said was propagandising against him. "Allegations of militancy began in 2001, when we expelled two persons from our organisation," he said, naming Rezaul Karim, a professor at Bogra Azizul Haque College and RU Assistant Registrar Shafiqul Islam.

Asked about an Ahab notice in 2000, claiming it has no involvement with Qital Fee Sabilillah, an Islamist militant outfit that also aimed at an Islamic revolution, Galib merely said, "Those were not published in newspapers".

AHAB, JMB & JMJB

Three years after preparations for a Islamic revolution had begun in the country, Galib splitting from an organisation named Jomiyat-e-Ahle Hadith in 1978, when he was a student of Dhaka University, and formed Ahab's youth wing Ahle Hadith Jubo Shangha (AHJS), AHJS workers said.

While forming the AHJS, Galib argued that they needed to engage in Jihad against Islamic fallacies including the mazar culture to bring an Islamic rule in the country.

Sources said Galib received funds from the Middle East through an Indian Islamist leader named Moulana Abdul Matin Salafi. In 1988 the Ershad government expelled Salafi, who had been working as a Muballig (religious preacher), for anti-state activities. Abdul Matin Salafi left a huge Saudi Arabia-originated fund to Galib.

About Abdul Matin Salafi Galib said, "He was a man whom our country needs the most. Driving him out of the country was a conspiracy."

AHJS took Rajshahi as its base after Galib had joined Rajshahi University as a lecturer in 1980 resigning his teaching job at Dhaka University. AHJS started its public activities in 1990.

The mainstream organisation Ahab was formed in late 1994 when Galib also formed its women wing, a welfare organisation named Tawhid Trust and a publication wing named Hadith Foundation Bangladesh.

At the same time the JMJB was formed and the JMB headed by Abdur Rahman started working in Dhaka with the same goal to turn the country into an Islamic state. With help from Galib, Rahman's JMB militants used the facilities of some 700 mosques built across the country by the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society. The bank accounts of the society in Pakistan were seized after the 9/11 incident.

After getting stationed in Rajshahi, Galib visited Afganistan, India and Pakistan with fake travel documents. He had close relations with Islamist militants in Kashmir. He visited India in 1998 with a business passport, for which he had to face interrogation by the Rajshahi University (RU) authorities. However, the issue has not been settled yet.

Police and intelligence sources said Ahab is just a mass platform of the JMB and most of the Ahab workers have been involved in JMB activities.

Corroborating the information, militants arrested in Thakurgaon, Joypurhat, Bogra and Natore told the police that Galib was their leader and used to meet with them at Ahle Hadith mosques.

The spiritual leader of Bangla Bhai and JMJB Amir Rahman and Ahab Amir Galib were well known to each other. Rahman studied at Madina University in Saudi Arabia at Galib's recommendation and after completing his course joined with Galib. After that he made his first public appearance in April last year in Bagmara.

Rezaul Karim, an expelled Ahab member, told The Daily Star Galib introduced him to Rahman. "I heard them discussing whether an armed struggle to stage an Islamic revolution would be viable or not."

But Galib told The Daily Star he knows Rahman as a son of an Islamic scholar and met him only once. "I never met him after he had returned from Madina University," he claimed.

LAWMAKERS TESTIFY FOR GALIB

Rajshahi City Corporation Mayor and ruling BNP lawmaker Mizanur Rahman Minu and Jamaat MP Maolana Abdul Khalek of Satkhira in two separate letters have certified that Galib does not have links with any extremists. Copies of the certificates were given to journalists at a press conference last week.

Meanwhile, the AHJS yesterday condemned and protested the arrest of Galib and other Ahab leaders and demanded their immediate release.

"Ahab and AHJS never supported any extremist movement, as Islam does not support extremism. A vested quarter is tarnishing Bangladesh's image by linking reputed Islamic personalities with extremism," said a press release signed by AHJS Office Secretary Mujaffar bin Muhsin yesterday.

GAIBANDHA ARREST

Our Gaibandha correspondent reports: Police arrested three suspected JMB activists -- two in Hashembazar and another in Gobindaganj upazila -- in Gaibandha in the early hours yesterday, a day after 12 JMB militants had been arrested in three upazilas with books and booklets on Islamic revolution and copies of an Islamist magazine.

Police first arrested Harun-ur-Rashid Prodhan alias Motaleb and Rowshan Rawnakul Islam, and acting on their statement later held AKM Taibur Rahman, a jute development officer at Gobindaganj Jute Office.

After interrogating the 12 JMB operatives arrested last Tuesday, police officials yesterday said of them Habibur Rahman alias Jubayer is a regional commander of the outfit.

RANGPUR ARREST

Our Rangpur correspondent reports: Police arrested JMB operatives Samiul Alam alias Siju and Fazlul Haque with a large number of books on Islamic revolution in Gangachara upazila in the district.

Siju is an assistant teacher at Komol Kouchua Nohali Dakhil Madrasa and Haque a dropped out madrasa student.

Police also raided the house of another suspected Islamist militant, Azharul Islam, but did not find him. However they seized a large number of books on Islamic revolution from that house.

The two arrestees admitted to have previously worked as active members of Jamaat-e-Islami's student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir, said a police source, adding they came up with certain 'terrifying information'.

"They admitted that 15,000 militants are now working in greater Rangpur and Dinajpur regions to bring about an Islamic revolution under the banner of JMB," a police officer told The Daily Star on condition of anonymity.

The source hinted that Al-Haramaine, an Islamic mission active in Gangachara upazila, might have connection with the suspected militants.

The government banned Al-Haramaine, which had been carrying out missionary work funded by a Libyan donor agency, in the wake of international pressure. But the mission is still active in some areas, the source said.

A detective official, also on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the militants had a plan to blow up the Brac office in Rangpur with hand grenades bearing the words 'JMG-3'. Police are now sure that JMG stands for Jama'atul Mujahideen group.


24/02/2005

07. JMJB, Jama'atul behind bomb attacks: Home ministry

The home ministry yesterday afternoon issued a press note announcing the ban of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) accusing them of a large number of bomb attacks and killings in recent times to create anarchy.

"The government notices with concern that two organisations called Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh and Jama'atul Mujahideen have been carrying out a series of murders, robberies, bomb attacks, threats and various kinds of terrorist acts causing deaths to peace-loving people and destruction of property," the press note read.

It said these people have been trying to create a social unrest by misleading a group of youths misusing their religious sentiments.

"Under the circumstances, the government announces enforcement of ban on all activities of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh and Jama'atul Muhjahideen. Their so-called leader Dr Asadullah al Galib has already been arrested. Meanwhile, police have been ordered to intensify their activities to arrest JMJB leader Bangla Bhai," the note continued.

Explaining the background of the tough stance, the government press-note said several incidents of attacks, bomb attacks and blasts have been carried out in the recent past on social, cultural and religious functions and several branches of Brac and Grameen Bank in different areas of the country.

It said the incidents prompted the government to intensify police vigil all over the country, resulting in 'red-handed' arrests of a number of suspects in Bogra, Joypurhat, Sirajganj, Gaibandha, Moulvibazar, Gopalganj, Dhamrai and Savar. The police operations also led to seizures of explosives and 'objectionable books and booklets'.

"According to the confessional statements of a number of the arrestees, they all are members of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh and Jama'atul Mujahedin [, and] they are engaged in such criminal activities to achieve their objectives," the press-note said.

"The government wants to inform all that such activities will not be tolerated," announced the note, adding, "The government is determined to take legal measures against whoever is engaged in terrorism or activities to frustrate peace and discipline."


24/02/2005


08. Islamist militancy is a propaganda by media: Saifur

Finance and Planning Minister M Saifur Rahman yesterday dubbed the onset of Islamist militancy across the country as nothing but a 'foul propaganda' by a section of the media.

"Taking advantage of press freedom, some media outlets have been propagandising fake issues like human rights violation, emergence of fundamentalist forces and repression of minorities," Saifur said addressing a meeting of grassroots leaders of ruling BNP here yesterday.

He said, "A section of print and electronic media is carrying out a foul propaganda against the government in a planned manner. Such things should be protested."

The minister said Bangladesh is on a good footing now, as the government has achieved a lot. But, he alleged these achievements are not getting their due publicity, and called upon the BNP activists to raise their voice against all this.

The grassroots convention of Sylhet division BNP held at Sylhet Stadium saw as many as 42 speakers.

Some of the grassroots-level leaders complained against price hike of essentials, including rice, for causing suffering for people and urged the party high command to control the essentials market.

BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman told the convention that the government has rooted out terrorism, which he said was a residue of the previous regime.

Tarique said, "Now people are living in peace," adding, "We will have to keep an eye on the law and order so that development activities run well."


24/02/2005

09. Terrorist Islamic organisations country's enemies: Shariah Council

Eleven Islamic thinkers and leaders of the Jatiya Shariah Council Bangladesh (JSCB) in a joint statement yesterday expressed their deep concern over the prevailing situation in the country, including killing, terrorism and bomb attacks.

They said there is an elected government and an independent judiciary in the country for ensuring justice through the application of law.

"Nobody, either any organisation or person has the right to take the law in his own hands," they said.

The statement said Islam does not support any act of terrorism. The Islamic parties and the ulema of the country have no relations with those who are carrying out such acts of terrorism.

The Islamic leaders are the peace-loving people and they are against all sorts of anarchy, they said.

"Those who are involved in terrorist activities in the name of Islamic organisations, are the enemies of the country and the nation. They (enemies) should be brought to justice for punishment according to the Islamic law," they said.

The Islamic thinkers demanded immediate arrest of the miscreants who are involved in killings and other criminal activities.

The signatories to the statement are Chairman of the JSCB and Khatib of Baitul Mokarram National Mosque Moulana Obaidul Haque, Chief Adviser of the JSCB Shaikhul Hadish Azizul Haque, Vice-Chairman Moulana Abul Kalam Muhammed Yusuf, Moulana Delwar Hossain Sayeedi MP, Moulana Muhammed Abdus Sobhan MP, Secretary General of the JSCB Mufti Syed Ahmed, Members of the JSCB Moulana Ataur Rahman Khan, Advocate Moulana Nazrul Islam, Moulana Kamal Uddin Zafari, Moulana Abul Kalam Azad and Moulana Jaynul Abedin.


23/02/2005

09. 15 'militants' held in north - confess to training for Islamic revolution

Fifteen suspected militants were arrested in three northern districts yesterday as police mounted a hunt for Islamist fundamentalists.

Twelve suspected militants of Jamaa't-ul-Mujahideen working for an Islamic revolution in Bangladesh were arrested yesterday in Gaibandha with books on Islamic movement. Police held two more militants at Panchbibi upazila in Joypurhat and another militant of Jamaa't-ul-Mujahideen in Thakurgaon.

The arrests came a day after 12 extremists at Dhamrai, Jahangirnagar University (JU) and Joypurhat were held with important documents including bomb-making formula.

Our Gaibandha correspondent reports: Police arrested two Jamaa't-ul-Mujahideen men -- Habibur Rahman and Raju Sarder -- in Gaibandha town in the early hours yesterday.

During instant interrogation, the two confessed to holding training and motivational sessions at mosques and madrasas to gear up Islamic movement.

Acting on their confession, police raided different places in Shaghata upazila and arrested eight persons. They are Enayet Hossain, Sadakat Mondol, Ashraful Islam, Obaidur Rahman, Bablu Akand, Ahmedullah, Aminul Huq and Shahidul Huq.

The police also arrested two more militants -- Shahinur Rahman and Mazharul Islam -- at Gobindaganj upazila of Gaibandha.

During the raids, police recovered membership forms of Al-Haramain Islam Found (sic), Bangladesh office, in Arabic, seven books on Islamic movement and a few copies of a monthly magazine, Al Maghazi.

The militants were kept in Gaibandha and will be produced before the court today.

A six-member police interrogation cell led by Monsur Alam, ASP-Circle B, was scheduled to quiz them last night.

Sources in the police said they were gathering information about activities of the militant organisation in the district.

The arrestees might have been involved in the recent series of bomb blasts in Gaibandha, said a source.

Three bombs exploded on a drama stage in front of Mohimaganj Sugar Mills rest house, injuring 13 persons on December 18.

Only a week later, 21 persons were injured when four bombs were blasted at a folk drama at Takier Bazar in Palashbari upazila.

A grenade was hurled at a dance drama at Ramnather Vita in Gobindaganj upazila the same day.

Earlier on November 12, a taskforce recovered 24 highly explosive gelatine sticks and 124 detonators from a Santahar-bound train at Bonarpara Railway Station. Two persons arrested in connection with the incident confessed that the Jamaa't-ul-Mujaheedin was involved in the train explosive.

JOYPURHAT ARREST

Police arrested Enamul and Sirajul in Panchbibi suspecting their links with extremists yesterday early morning from their houses in Roygram and Tantpur villages.

FOLLOW UP

Six militants arrested on the Dhaka-Aricha highway in Dhamrai with nine guidebooks on bomb making and other important materials were remanded for two days yesterday.

Two madrasa students and a college student arrested at Jahangirnagar University Sunday night on suspicion of extremist link were sent to the court yesterday with a three-day remand petition.

The court decision was not available till 8:00pm last night.

Three followers of Bangla Bhai who were arrested from Kalai and Sadar upazila of Joypurhat Sunday night were also sent to the court yesterday. Local police confirmed that these three -- Golam Mostafa, Delwar Hossain and Sobhan alias Salauddin -- had links with extremists.


23/02/2005

10. JMJB plans to attack police camps to build armoury

Leaders of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) said they are planning to attack the police stations across the country to collect arms and ammunitions.

JMJB chief Abdur Rahman Shai Bhai sought co-operation in this regard from Rezaul Karim, self-claimed secretary general of one of the factions of Ahle Hadith, another militant Islamist organisation.

Admitting to receiving the request from the JMJB leader, Rezaul Karim, a teacher of management at Azizul Haque College, Bogra said he had declined to comply with that.

Speaking to The Daily Star, Karim said, "We don't believe in such a process of revolution that involves violence. Such activities are completely against Islam."

He said he met the JMJB chief during a visit to Rajshahi University at his request recently and there the JMJB leader asked for his faction's co-operation [in attacking the police camps].

Since the detection of gelatine bombs at Mohimaganj in Gaibandha district a few months ago, members of the JMJB bomb squad have been keeping a close eye on Karim. Those arrested in connection with the bombs confessed to police that he is also a member of Jamaatul Mujahidin.

A few days ago, a number of the arrested Jamatul Mujahidin members also confessed to a magistrate in Natore that Rajshahi University teacher Dr Asadullah Al Galib is also a leader of the party.

Asadullah also leads a faction of the Ahle Hadith. Karim, who leads his rival faction, said there are allegations of money laundering against Asadullah, whose party is also affiliated with the JMJB.

LINK


23/02/2005

11. Bomb hoax at Brac HQ

Panic spread among the employees of Brac head office in the capital yesterday following a phony phone call informing police that a bomb was set on the fourth floor of the building.

Police said a male voice, preferring anonymity, told them by telephone that a bomb had been planted in a room on the fourth floor of the NGO headquarters at Mohakhali under Gulshan Police Station.

"Police and Rab forces rushed in, cordoned off the building at about 11:00am and instructed all the employees to vacate the office at soon as possible," an official source said.

The law-enforcers searched the floor for one hour, but didn't find any bomb.

The bomb hoax scare was so intense since two offices of the NGO in two northern districtsNaogaon and Rangpur--had recently come under bomb attack.

22/02/2005

12. Hasina terms PM's Bangla Bhai arrest order a hoax

Opposition leader Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the directive of the prime minister to arrest the so-called Bangla Bhai was a hoax.

"In the one hand, the government does not find him out, on the other he (Bangla Bhai), along with his cadres, is killing people," said Hasina, also president of the Awami League (AL).

The former prime minister made the observations when the family members of slain AL leader Yasin Ali, killed allegedly by the cadres of Bangla Bhai, met her at Sudha Sadan.

She listened to victim's father Ismail Hossain Mridha, who described how Yasin was caught by the Bangla Bhai cadres and killed.

"The government is killing the AL leaders and activists by engaging police and Rab. The government also engaged Bangla Bhai to kill our party leaders," she alleged.

Hasina said the BNP-Jamaat government is not holding trial of the killers, rather it is patronising the killers. "What kind of country we are living in ... There must be a limit to barbarism."

"There is no rule of law in the country ... everywhere there is an autocratic attitude. The government is engaged in plundering state-wealth," she said.

Hasina narrated how the plights of people aggravated with the unabated price hike of essentials and repression unleashed on them. "People are sufferings due to the sins being committed by the prime minister."

22/02/2005

13. Grenade blast at Moulvibazar shrine- Imam, madrasa teacher held

A grenade exploded at Shaidingi shrine in Kulaura upazila of Moulvibazar on Sunday night badly damaging the structure of the shrine.

No casualty, however, was reported while the roof of the shrine was blown up.

Immediately after the explosion, locals captured a local Imam and a madrasa teacher on suspicion, and handed them over to police.

Police said the detainees -- Maruf Mohammed Ishaque, 22, and Quamrul -- had confessed their involvement in the explosion. Police declined to elaborate on the leads obtained from the two.

A team of Bangladesh Army's explosive experts from Comilla had visited the scene and recovered splinters from the spot. Team leader Captain Manjur confirmed it to be a hand grenade.

Police and locals said the grenade exploded at about 8:15pm sometime after a few thousand people had left Prithimpasa Nawab Bari where the local Shia community arranged an Ashura programme. The venue stands only 200 yards off the scene of the blast.

Maruf, who hailed from Haluaghat of Mymensingh, is Imam of the local mosque and a student of Karmadha Madrasa while Quamrul is a teacher of Darus Salam Madrasa in Sylhet.

Besides the two, police held a woman at Budhpasa village on suspicion that her son could be another accomplice of Maruf and Quamrul.

Raushan Ara Begum, superintendent of Moulvibazar police, who visited the spot last night, told The Daily Star that police and army personnel are jointly investigating the incident.



14. 12 militants held with important materials
3 arrested at JU Ekushey programme with timer, jihad tape; Dhamrai militants carry bomb-making formula


Twelve suspected extremists were arrested from Dhamrai, Jahangirnagar University (JU) and Joypurhat Sunday night.

The six arrested from Dhamrai were found with bomb-making formulas, masks, wigs and important documents belonging to an extremist organisation, while JU authorities also found a timer and an audio tape containing a speech protesting attempts to arrest Osama bin Laden, Mufti Fazlul Haq Amini and Shaikhul Hadith Azizul Haque.

Intelligence agencies, meantime, have mounted surveillance on a number of mosques in the north-western regions of the country in the wake of a recent wave of bomb attacks on various NGOs, including Brac and Grameen Bank.

DHAMRAI ARREST

A patrol team of Dhamrai police challenged eight youths as they were walking by Joypura Jora bridge on the Dhaka-Aricha highway at 1:00am yesterday.

Two of the youths ran away when they saw the police, and remaining six were arrested.

It has been learned that four of the six Abdul Wahab, 26, Yakub Ali, 21, Faruq Hossain, 34, Rafiqul Islam, 18, Nurul Islam, 20, and Anwar Hossain, 23, -- are students of the area's Sharifabad Madrasa.

"Each of them was carrying a bag," Tareq Kamal, officer-in-charge of the Dhamrai Police Station, told reporters.

Searching their bags, police found pieces of glass, five diaries and a notebook, dresses for girls, masks, fake beards and moustaches, wigs and bomb-making formulas complete with drawings.

Police said all of the youths were wearing lungis and pajamas,, but that each carried with them two extra dresses. Police also found three pairs of shoes, muri (fried rice), cakes, soft drinks and bottles of drinking water.

The youths claimed they were returning from a feast at one Delwar Hossain's house, but police could not find anyone by that name in the area, raising doubts about the youth's motives for roaming the highway at night.

They identified the two who fled as Nantu and Salam.

Local sources said Wahab, a resident of Kayetpara in Dhamrai, is the leader of the team. His brother Jahangir Alam, a grocer at Dhamrai Bazar, expressed ignorance about his brother's occupation when speaking with reporters.

A police source said the arrested disclosed the names of eight members of 'their people'.

Local police officials suspected, based on the recovered items, that the youths were preparing to undertake an operation.

Several police sources said the extremists have a safe den somewhere in the area, where they are training young members.

Reporters have not been permitted to speak with the arrestees.

JU CAPTURE

At approximately 8:00pm on Sunday, JU Assistant Proctor Qamruzzaman Monir challenged three youths wearing panjabi and pajamas during a function on the occasion of International Mother Language Day at the university Shaheed Minar.

The youths, who claimed to be students of Dhaka College, were recording the cultural function on an audio cassette.

But the JU authorities later learned that two of the young men, Aminul Islam and Salabuddin Rana, are students of Pallabi Aftab Uddin Madarsa, while the other, Taha Ibne Hasan, is a student of Bhawal Badre Alam College in Gazipur.

"As we asked about their motive, they gave us contradictory statements," JU Proctor Muhammad Ali Akond Mamun told The Daily Star last night.

The JU authorities found a cassette containing a speech of an unknown religious cleric who defended Osama bin Laden, Mufty Amini and Shaikhul Hadith, saying anti-Islamic forces failed to arrest them despite repeated attempts. The speech had been recorded a few days earlier.

Finding a timer with them, the JU authorities handed them over to the Savar police.

They arrested mentioned names of two JU students Sajan, a resident student of AFM Kamaluddin Hall, and Panna of Meer Mosharraf Hossain Hall.

The young men told police during an interrogation at the Savar Police Station yesterday that they went to the university to enjoy the programme. They failed, however, to give a satisfactory answer for carrying a timer.

JOYPURHAT

Police arrested three extremists of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) from Kalai and Sadar upzila of Joypurhat.

They are Golam Mostafa and Delwar Hossain of Baniapara of the Sadar upzila and Sobhan, alias Salauddin, of Belghar village under Kalai.

Speaking to The Daily Star, Joupurhat Police Station OC Iqbal Shafi confirmed the arrestees to be members of militant groups.

"Two of them were arrested earlier in connection with an attack on police at Maheshpur village under Khetlal upzila in 2003, but were later released on bail a couple of months ago," he said, adding that Mostafa is also an accused in the bomb attack in Dinajpur.

A number of books related to revolution were seized from Delwar.

Kalai police suspect Sobhan was involved in the bomb attack at the Brac office at Kalai Sadar last week.

VIGILANCE

Police high ups recently deployed members of intelligence agencies to the listed mosques in the Northern region, hoping to ascertain which clerics were known to deliver ultra-religious statements and preach Zihad, a top official in the police headquarters said seeking anonymity. Sources said intelligence members have also been deployed at various mosques in the Sylhet and Khulna regions.

"The intelligence mounted watch in the mosques where disciples of the operation commander of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and Dr Asadullah Galib of Rajshahi University are carrying out activities and discharging duties as Imam," said a top police official seeking anonymity. Intelligence members have also been ordered to arrest the zealots and thoroughly interrogate them.

Local intelligence agencies, meanwhile, have been kept in the dark for unknown reasons and were not tasked with making arrests, the official said. Possibly the government has taken such move because JMJB operation commander Bangla Bhai is eluding arrest despite the Prime Minister's ordered to arrest him, he noted.

The order was given after a special meeting on security held at the Ministry of Home on Thursday, during which the recent bomb attacks on NGOs was given priority, a ministry source said.

Chaired by State Minister for Home Luthfozzaman Babar, the meeting was attended by Inspector General of Police and chiefs of various intelligence agencies.

Police arrested three activists of Jama'atul Mujahidin from the Water Development Board mosque in Thakurgaon on Thursday night. The arrestees are Amanat Ullah, Mamun ur Rashid and Mahbub Alam. Following the statement police raided the house of one Asiruddin, 50, of Laxmipur village in Sadar upazila of Thakurgaon and seized bomb making materials, acid, splinters, electrical wire, batteries, a dummy rifle made of bamboo and rod, some books and leaflets as well as a motor cycle.

Police said the arrestees admitted to police that they were carrying out anti-NGO propaganda at the direction of Bangla Bhai, operation commander of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), and Dr Asadullah Galib of Rajshahi University.

Earlier, in the first week of February, police arrested 12 members of Jama'atul Mujahidin activists from a mosque in Natore.

Superintendent of Police (SP) of Thakurgaon Khandaker Golam Faruq said there are thousands of mosques, but such activities. "It is not possible to watch every mosque by limited forces," he said.