Lack of policy affecting fight against militancy in Bangladesh

October 26th, 2008 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Oct 26 (IANS) Lack of policy and political guidance are hindering Bangladesh authorities from going all out against Islamist militancy, government officials have said.Absence of a clear policy by the political leadership had been a handicap in cracking down against militancy, as it entails delicate religious issues, officials of the law enforcing agencies, who were not named, told The Daily Star newspaper.

“A crackdown on the suspected organisations requires a government policy in this regard as the issue is linked to sensitive religious matters,” a top law enforcer was quoted as saying.

The authorities have refrained from spreading their net wide and have remained confined to the few organisations that have been banned.

Although the law-enforcement agencies have listed 29 Islamist organisations for suspected involvement in militancy, they have focussed only on the outlawed Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkatul Jihad al Islami (Huji).

Sources in the law-enforcement agencies say they are not in a position to take a tough line on the suspected outfits unless they get hard evidence of terror activities against them.

The official, however, argued they were closely tracking these outfits since the official drive against militants started in 2005 following then synchronised country-wide blasts by Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, who led the JMB, and have since been executed.

The two along with four of their JMB leaders were convicted for killing two judges and hanged last year.

Of the listed organisations, some are large and the rest are minor, but all of their activities are apparently confined to mosques and madrasa-based discussions and Islamic ‘dawat’ (invitation).

“We have observed that the objectives and statements of many of these organisations are identical to those of JMB and Huji. But it’s not enough to get tough on them since such activities are allowed in the country unless anyone commits terror activities like JMB and Huji did,” commented Rab Additional Director General Col Gulzar Uddin Ahmed, who is one of the key men behind anti-militancy drives.

The government has so far banned four Islamist militant organisations — JMB, Huji, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh and Shahadat-e al Hikma.

However, besides these four, the 29 listed outfits include the Bangladesh chapter of international organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh, 10 of whose leaders and activists were arrested in Rajshahi on Sep 18 and freed on bail on Sep 30.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is a worldwide controversial organisation, which is banned in many European and Middle Eastern countries and also in neighbouring Pakistan. Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), a political party recently formed by leaders of banned Huji who had fought in Afghanistan against former Soviet forces and had links with Al Qaeda and Taliban forces, is also on the updated list.

As the drive against Huji remains limited only to the detained Mufti Hannan-led faction, the other key Huji leaders, who founded the outfit, have floated a political party and are continuing open activities.

The other listed outfits are Hizb-ut Towhid, Allahr Dal, Islami Samaj, al Harat al Islamia, Jama’atul Faliya, Towhidi Janata, Biswa Islami Front, Juma’atul al Sadat, Shahadat-e-Nobuat, Jama’at-e Yahia al Turat, Joyshe Mostafa Bangladesh, al Jihad Bangladesh, Woarat Islamic Front, Jamaat-as-Sadat, al Khidmat, Harkat-e-Islam al Jihad, Hijbullah Islami Samaj, Muslim Millat Shahria Council, World Islamic Front for Jihad, Joysh-e Mohammad, Hijbul Mahadi, Kalemar Dawat, Islami Dawati Kafela, al Islam Martyrs Brigade, Dawat-e Islam, Tanjim, Hizb e Abu Omar, and Jadid al-Qaeda Bangladesh.

Law enforcers say they have listed these organisations on the basis of different agencies’ reports that they share the same ideologies and the ultimate goal of establishing rule of Islam in Bangladesh through jihad or turning the country into a Khilafat state.

“There is a strong possibility that the organisations might get involved in militant activities anytime. So, we’re closely watching their activities,” a source told The Daily Star.

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