Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Highlights 8th March 2006

Bangla Bhai Arrested in Bangladesh

Fresh on the heels of the arrest of Abdur Rahman, Bangladesh nabs the other most wanted terrorist in the country
Bangladesh has scored the second high profile arrest of an al-Qaeda linked terrorist in less than a week, and essentially captured the numbers one and two terrorists in the country. After the arrest of Abdur Rahman, an associate of Osama bin Laden and one of the original signatories of al-Qaeda's fatwa establishing the International Islamic Front, Siddique ul-Islam, better know as Bangla Bhai, along with two associates were nabbed after a shootout with Bangladeshi police. While the details of his arrest are sketchy, the likelihood is his arrest was facilitated by information obtained from Rahman's capture and subsequent interrogation. Rahman threatened to 'martyr' himself during the standoff with police last week, but later surrendered without a fight. A case of 'martyrdom for thee but not for me,' which should not inspire the rank and file jihadists. Bangla Bhai also chose surrender over suicide. (Update: Andrew Cochran has a roundup of news from Bangladesh concerning the capture of Bangla Bhai The Counterterrorism Blog.) Bangla Bhai is the ruthless military commander of the al-Qaeda linked Islamist terrorist group Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (Awakened Muslim Masses of Bangladesh), or JMJB. He fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, and is said to revel in torturing and murdering his victims. The Southeast Asia Terrorism Portal describes the organization of JMJB, and his role,
"While Maulana Abdur Rahman is the Amir (chief) of the JMJB, Siddiqul Islam alias Azizur Rahman alias Omar Ali Litu alias Bangla Bhai is the 'Commander' of the outfit’s anti-extremist operations."
Bangla Bhai sat on the Majlis-e-Shura (central council) with Rahman and five other members of JMJB. Five of the seven members of JMJB's Shura Council are now in custody.

After Abdur Rahman was arrested, Bangla Bhai was labeled the "next target" of the Bangladeshi government's crackdown on Islamist terrorists. Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai are believed to be the masterminds behind the well-coordinated bombing attacks across Bangladesh in 2005, where hundreds of bombs detonated within one hour of each other in all of Bangladesh's administrative districts save one. The attacks appear to have waken up the people of Bangladesh to the threat of Islamist extremism in their country, and the government of Bangladesh, while often accused of being blind to the threat, has made two very important arrests in the span of a week....Fourth Rail

The rise and capture of Bangla Bhai

Ladies and Gentlemen, they got him

Almost exactly two years since Bangla Bhai gained national and international notoriety, his reign of terror in the Bangladeshi countryside came to a surprising halt. Within a span of four days, the Bangladeshi authorities captured both Abdur Rahman, the ’spiritual’ leader of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) and Siddiqul Islam (aka Bangla Bhai), the operational leader of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), its terrorist unit. For most of those two years, the government of Begum Khaleda Zia ignored their doings, insisting that Bangla Bhai was just a myth and his actions blown out of proportion by the media. They now admit their mistake. What caused the Khaleda Zia government to have a change of heart? The charitable view, of course, is that it finally realised that the JMB posed a serious threat to its own national security and the government’s credibility internationally. But it is not unreasonable to factor in two other considerations. Firstly, Bangladesh is heading for elections soon, and the opposition Awami League of Sheikh Hasina Wajed accusation that the government failed to effectively tackle the menace of terrorism is likely to have resonated among the voters. Bangla Bhai’s capture gives the ruling Bangladesh National Party an effective counter to such accusations. Secondly, as
Indian intelligence sources reportedly suspect (via Winds of Change), President George W Bush’s visit to the region may have something to do with the timing of the Khaleda Zia’s newfound enthusiasm for tackling terrorism. Bangladesh, they believe, is (in a way) taking a page out of Gen Musharraf’s book. Whatever the reason, whether the capture of Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam will lead to a halt in the number of terrorist attacks will depend on how well the authorities clean up behind them.
It is also important to ensure to ensure that the success in capturing the terrorist leaders is matched by a speedy trial that ensures that they are properly punished under the law. Bangladesh cannot afford to relax just yet....Acorn

ANALYSIS-Bangladesh bomber arrests said only the beginning
By Paul Eckert, Asia Correspondent

WASHINGTON(Reuters) - Bangladesh's capture of two top Islamic militants in one week brought relief at home and praise from the United States, but experts say the South Asian country needs to do more to guard against radical Islam.

Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai, leader of the outlawed Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh was caught on Monday, four days after the head of the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen head, Shayek Abdur Rahman, surrendered to authorities. The two men were the most wanted fugitives in Bangladesh, the world's third most-populous Muslim country, and their groups are blamed for hundreds of bombings since last year. "It was a significant and important capture," said a U.S. official of the first arrest, speaking anonymously as required by the official's government agency.
"The capabilities of (Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen) appear to be more lower level, although they have demonstrated their willingness to use violence,"
the official added.

A second U.S. official involved in counter-terrorism said
"Bangladeshi extremists don't appear to have joined the global jihad, but the ossibility remains a cause for concern."Terrorism in Bangladesh hovers below the U.S. radar, analysts say, noting that President George W.Bush did not mention the country during his trip to India and Pakistan.
But experts on South Asia warn against playing down the problem or viewing the two high-profile arrests as sufficient to win Bangladesh's struggle to maintain secular politics.

South Asia expert Hussain Haqqani of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said:
"The real problem in Bangladesh is that the government has never fully acknowledged the extent of the Islamic militant problem in the country. "Because of this, we do not know whether the arrests are just the tip of the iceberg or they are really a fatal blow to the movement,"
he said.

In Dhaka, the main opposition Awami league has often accused the government of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia of allowing militants to operate in the shadow of its parliamentary partners in the Jamaat-e-Islami party.

The government's need for a coalition partner dampened debate on links between mainstream Islamic groups and shadowy offshoots such as the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, said Haqqani.

"We do not know how many others there are and how many religious political groups in the country have militant wings who just use other names," he said.

Some of these groups reject accommodation with a democratic system and have adopted radical Islam under the influence of oil-rich Middle Eastern states which fund them, wrote expatriate Bangladeshi lawyer Maneeza Hossain in a study published by the conservative Hudson Institute last month.

Hossain's report, "The Rising Tide of Islamism in Bangladesh," says the country's porous borders and the growing role of the main port city of Chittagong in the arms trade makes radical Islam a regional if not global security issue that requires more attention from the United States.

"Without a steady eye in Washington on Bangladesh it makes it the perfect incubator because nobody is there to see it," said Hossain in a telephone interview. (Additional reporting by David Morgan)......Reuters

Bangladesh Needs Aid Against Terrorists

The people of Bangladesh may be among the most unlucky in the world in terms of natural disasters. Famines, catastrophic monsoons, cyclones and earthquakes frequently victimize that Asian nation’s people. And now they are under assault by Islamic militants. A group called Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh has been responsible for a series of bombings that have killed dozens of people. On Monday, the organization’s leader, Siddiqul Islam, was captured by Bangladeshi security forces. There should be little doubt that the JMB terrorists will continue their attacks. Most Islamic militant organizations are filled with fanatics, all ready to step into leadership positions in such circumstances. If anything, Islam’s capture may intensify the attacks.
Americans need to remember that the people of Bangladesh have been our steadfast friends during times when many more prosperous nations turned their backs on us. During the first Persian Gulf War, for example, Bangladesh was among the first nations to send a unit to aid U.S. troops. Whatever U.S. leaders can do to aid Bangladesh in its campaign against terrorism should be done. The people of Bangladesh need — and have earned — our help in fighting the common enemy.
They have demonstrated the will to fight back; Americans need to offer material assistance....The Intelligencer

Let the truth come to light

It is a regrettable matter that anti-Bangladesh forces in India and elsewhere are so blind and biased that they are reluctant to listen to the truth about the real position of the Bangladeshi minority communities, if that truth is unveiled even by the Indians. These forces know that if any person, particularly an India, speaks the truth and negates media propaganda about the alleged and imaginary atrocities on the Bangladeshi minorities, sensible people around the world will believe that and the real motive of the anti-Bangladesh forces will be uncovered. For this reason, anti-Bangladesh forces in India adopt every possible means to discourage, even deter those sensible and humanist Indians, who endeavour to stand for justice and true and for Bangladesh.
A teacher of Jadavpur University of India was seriously insulted and humiliated in public in Calcutta on that day for his comment on Bangladesh. Dr. Chittabrata Palit, a teacher of the History Department of Jadavpur was insulted in public and forced to stop his speech and leave the dais for speaking the truth that went in favour of Bangladesh.more in South Asia Focus

FlashPoint Assam: Parivar behind exodus of "Bangladeshis"

The campaign to evict “Bangladeshis” started from Dibrugarh in upper Assam which is home of Ulfa chief Paresh Barua who belongs to the Matak, the dominant tribe of the district.
According to sources in the central home ministry, Ulfa could be behind the SMS campaign to evict suspected Bangladeshis. But Ulfa has denied this.
Meanwhile a senior home ministry official linked the move to the assembly elections in Assam next year. The state government has conveyed to the home ministry that so far they have not been able to identify the source of SMSes. But Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has blamed the SMS campaign on the BJP’s newly elected state in-charge Pramod Mahajan. He said that the BJP and RSS are trying to foment communal tension in Assam and vowed that he would not allow the "traditional communal harmony in the state to be disturbed."...more in Mili Gazzette


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