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Bangladesh's counter-terrorism efforts


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Bangladesh improves in the Global Terrorism Index
Hasan Al Javed
Published at 10:35 pm February 22nd, 2020
In 2017, Bangladesh ranked 19th in the Global Terrorism Index and then progressed to the 31st rank after two years in 2019

Instances of extremism or terrorism are increasing globally but the situation in Bangladesh is changing for the better.

In 2017, Bangladesh ranked 19th in the Global Terrorism Index and then progressed to the 31st rank after two years in 2019.

Md Monirul Islam, head of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) of Bangladesh Police, presented the information as chief guest at a discussion meeting titled 'Role of Mass Media in Preventing Extremism,' held at the National Press Club on Saturday.

Neighbouring countries India and Pakistan are in the top ten risky countries according to the index. The condition of Bangladesh is much better and is still improving. Even countries like the United States and United Kingdom are at risk.

"We do not have a definite strategy to curb violent extremism: time is required to do that. But we are going to adopt Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) policies," said the police official.

"People, ages 15-30, are the ones who are mostly getting involved in terrorism. We are having dialogues with young leaders to motivate this vulnerable group. We are also having conversations with religious leaders," he added.

Monirul commented that people abroad think that militants start hacking people with machetes as soon as they set foot on the roads of Bangladesh. This is not the case and it is the mass media's responsibility to promote the real situation.

"We are working to restrain extremism based on our country's context. We are not making the same mistake as Sampreeti Bangladesh who made an advertisement imitating foreign media. We are also conducting academic research," Monirul said.

Chief editor of GTV and Sarabangla.net, Syed Ishtiaque Reza, said: "Whenever an extremist is arrested, police say the 'joddha' (fighter) was arrested with 'jihadi' books. Words like these can inspire extremism."

Maasranga TV Head of News, Rezwanul Haq Raza, said: "Several media houses published the smiling pictures of the Holey Artisan attackers which was really inappropriate. A person gained popularity after praising Delwar Hossain Sayeedi and speaking against female leadership. Police have to work on these things."

Mozammel Babu, owner of Ekattor TV, suggested that the recent arrest of Shariyat Bayati is inciting militancy.

NTV Chief News Editor Zahirul Alam commented that it would be better if CTTC prepared a guideline for media outlets in this regard.

ATN Bangla Head of News Z E Mamun, DBC News CEO Manzurul Islam, and Ekushey TV Head of News Mostafa Mohshin Abbas, were among others who expressed their opinions on the issue during the three hour long dialogue session.

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/dhaka/2020/02/22/bangladesh-improves-in-the-global-terrorism-index

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Missing for 18 months, Rab official Hasinur returns home
22 Feb 2020 22:06, Somoy English Desk
18-199324-5544-lg.jpg

Sacked Rab official Lt Col Hasinur Rahman, who remained missing for the last 18 months, returned home on Friday night.

Hasinur’s wife Shamima Akhter said her husband retuned home around 11pm.

She said her husband was a former commanding officer of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab).

Shamima said Hasinur is now fine, but he did not say anything about his disappearance. “We also didn’t want to know about it.”

Hasinur was sacked from the army for his alleged involvement with militancy, though his family claimed that he was victim of a conspiracy.

On August 8, 2018, he was reportedly picked up by a group of people in plainclothes around 10:30pm.

Later, his family held a press conference demanding that the government ensure his safe return.

https://en.somoynews.tv/5544/news/Missing-for-18-months-Rab-official-Hasinur-returns-home

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1 hour ago, Aparajita Banerjee said:

Missing for 18 months, Rab official Hasinur returns home
22 Feb 2020 22:06, Somoy English Desk
18-199324-5544-lg.jpg

Sacked Rab official Lt Col Hasinur Rahman, who remained missing for the last 18 months, returned home on Friday night.

Hasinur’s wife Shamima Akhter said her husband retuned home around 11pm.

She said her husband was a former commanding officer of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab).

Shamima said Hasinur is now fine, but he did not say anything about his disappearance. “We also didn’t want to know about it.”

Hasinur was sacked from the army for his alleged involvement with militancy, though his family claimed that he was victim of a conspiracy.

On August 8, 2018, he was reportedly picked up by a group of people in plainclothes around 10:30pm.

Later, his family held a press conference demanding that the government ensure his safe return.

 

He probably ran afoul of the massive corruption and mafia racket within RAB which threatened exposure of higher ups.

No army officer simply "disappears" for 18 months.

 

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Sacked RAB officer returns home after remaining traceless for one and a half years

Staff Correspondent,  bdnews24.com

Published: 22 Feb 2020 05:29 PM BdST Updated: 22 Feb 2020 05:41 PM BdST

Sacked RAB officer Hasinur Rahman has returned home after remaining traceless for one and a half years, his family says.

Hasinur appeared devastated when he arrived home Saturday, his wife Shamima Akhter told bdnews24.com.

Shamima said her husband remained silent on his apparent captivity. “He’s very ill and isn’t saying much. We will take him to a doctor tomorrow,” she said.

A group of unidentified people abducted him from Mirpur’s DOHS area and took him away by microbus on Aug 8, 2018.

Pallabi Police Station SI Monirul Islam told bdnews24.com that he had spoken to Hasinur's wife twice since Saturday morning.

"She told us that Hasinur arrived home at around 12am. However, we did not get to speak with him.”

Hasinur was at the Army Training and Doctrine Command when he lost his job after being charged with sedition.

He had also worked at the Border Guard Bangladesh.

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Officers do not get kicked out of the Army without any reason. There is definitely more to this story than meets the eye. We may never know because people generally take sides and offer up conjectures to support their own agendas.

His Army career is not the issue here however his extra-curricular activities must have caused alarm in the military intelligence wing to warrant his dismissal from service.

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https://www.voxpol.eu/how-do-violent-extremists-use-digital-media/

HOW DO VIOLENT EXTREMISTS USE DIGITAL MEDIA? AN ANALYSIS OF BANGLADESHI EXTREMIST LIFECYCLES

 

June 9, 2021

 

By Saimum Parvez

At least 40 pro-secular writers and activists, foreign nationals, and members of minority religious groups were murdered in Bangladesh by violent extremists between 2013 and 2017. On July 1, 2016, Islamic State-affiliated violent extremists stabbed to death 20 hostages, including Indian, Italian, Japanese, and US citizens in a restaurant.  Several of these attacks were reportedly carried out by followers of Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). According to Bangladeshi law enforcement, a large number of these individuals were radicalised through digital media.

Building on John Horgan’s process model, this post reports on the findings of PhD research arguing that digital media’s role in extremist lifecycles can be explained in three phases: recruitment, strengthening, and attack. The study was based on micro-data on 370 Bangladeshi violent extremists, including their socio-demographic traits and their patterns of digital media use. 

Data on the extremist lifecycles was collected via document analysis (i.e., newspaper reports, court documents, memoirs, social media content) and interviews with key informants, namely law enforcement officers, security experts, and journalists. Of the 370 extremists on whom data was collected, 287 (78%) used digital media in the involvement or engagement phases of their extremist lifecycle. 

This Blog post describes and discusses the study’s findings with regard to the role of digital media in Bangladeshi extremists’ recruitment processes, attraction for females and young people, strengthening convictions, and attack opportunities: 

Recruitment

Today’s violent extremists have increased control over their propaganda generation and distribution. They publish and broadcast their own materials online without depending on the traditional media. This ability to bypass mainstream print and electronic media helps contemporary violent extremists to propagate their news and messages directly to interested audiences. 

Digital media also provide opportunities for violent extremists to respond quickly. This includes responding to aspiring violent extremists directly, via messaging apps, social media, comments sections of blog posts, etc., but also responding to international/national/local events, including terrorist attacks, natural disasters, financial crises, political developments, and the pandemic, in a timely fashion. For example, Bangladeshi extremists regularly post their views/ interpretations/suggestions–even health tips–in their digital media outlets, which helps them to stay relevant to their audiences.

Also found was that many jihadists’ participation in (online) jihad was influenced by the perceived anonymity and security offered by digital media.

Increasing women and youth participation

The database of Bangladeshi violent extremists developed for the study revealed that they were mostly young, educated, and came from middle-class backgrounds. Analysis of these violent extremists’ lifecycles also found that digital media could reach individuals for recruitment who were previously unreachable. 

In particular, digital media made it easier for women to connect with previously “unknown” recruiters and participate in jihad. Among violent extremists who used digital media at some point in their extremist lifecycle, women were more likely than men to use digital media in all aspects of the outreach and recruitment phase, including consuming and disseminating propaganda, and in connecting with recruiters and fellow jihadists. 

Also, global jihad, exploiting the opportunities provided by globalisation, introduced Bangladeshi extremists to globally known English-speaking preachers and other new jihadi role models, who motivated several affluent Bangladeshi youths from westernised backgrounds.

Strengthening convictions

After recruitment, digital media played a vital role in strengthening the convictions of the jihadists to become actively engaged in violent extremism. This strengthening occurred by two means: 

The construction of a grand narrative and employment of that narrative in interactions among Bangladeshi jihadists to build jihadi echo-chambers. Three themes were prominent in this jihadist grand narrative. First, the construction of a perceived crisis founded on the idea that Islam and the Muslim community were under threat. Second, that establishing an Islamic State based on their interpretation of Islamic law was the only solution to this crisis. And third, armed struggle as the “only way” to achieve this solution, even if it required civilian killings. 

Analysis of the extremist lifecycles revealed that continuous interaction and justification of these core jihadi narratives contributed to boosting the determination of the individuals in the dataset to take an active role. In fact, the continuous online interactions with fellow jihadists built a small online jihadi community. At this stage, a commonly identified trend was that the jihadists tended to isolate themselves from non-jihadi friends and family members and started to live in their online jihadi bubble. Living in these bubbles reinforced their jihadi beliefs and prepared them for engaging in attacks.

Attack opportunities

After strengthening their convictions, Bangladeshi violent extremists were ready to be assigned an active role in an attack. One interesting finding here was that small groups and individuals were more flexible in their decision-making and target selection because of widely available jihadi online guidelines. The latter allowed individuals and small groups to operate on their own, following the convictions of their leaders found in online materials. 

Moreover, in the pre-terrorist activities phase, Bangladeshi extremists used digital media for fundraising, training, and information on construction of explosive devices. Even during an attack’s execution (e.g., Holey Artisan Bakery attack), digital media helped the jihadists to maintain real-time communication with their leaders, send photos and videos, and operate according to their leaders’ guidance. 

In several instances, violent extremists also claimed responsibility for attacks and distributed the images or messages related to attacks via several digital media platforms, especially Facebook, Twitter, and chat forums.

Overall, it was found that digital media played significant roles in the extremist life cycles of those recorded in the dataset but was not the sole factor for their radicalisation. Instead, online and offline factors were intertwined in their lifecycles, with entirely online radicalisation being very rare. 

 

Saimum Parvez is a senior lecturer at the department of Political Science and Sociology at the North South University, Bangladesh. He has recently completed his Ph.D. on the role of digital media in violent extremism from the University of Sydney. On Twitter @saimumparvez1. 

This Blog post summarises findings of author’s Ph.D. project Understanding Digital Media and the Lifecycles of Bangladeshi Violent Extremists. Some of the findings were also published in the article titled ‘Digital Media and Violent Extremism in Bangladesh: Profiles and Narratives’.

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Bangladesh's security forces have broken the backs of the terrorist organisations in terms of launching any major attacks so more and more these terrorists will engage in opportunistic accounts and cyber terrorism/extremism. These are the areas where much more. 

wwlVWrH.jpg

Militants are not capable of carrying out any major subversive attack in the country at this moment, Rab Director General Chowdhury Abdullah Al Mamun has said.

"We are one step ahead of militants and that's why there is no violence by militants in the country now. We are taking actions before any major incident could occur," he said.

The chief of Rapid Action Battalion was speaking to reporters at the Rab headquarters yesterday about the current law and order in the country.

He said the Rab were monitoring militant activities in the cyber world and whenever they get information through this monitoring, they arrest militants and bring them to book.

Since the Holey Artisan Bakery attack in the capital's Gulshan on July 1, 2016, the Rab has arrested around 1,500 militants in last five years. Besides, 16 militants were rehabilitated after their surrender, said Mamun.

At least 20 local and foreign nationals were killed in the militant attack in 2016. Two police officials were also killed during an operation there.

Asked if there were any links between foreign and local militant outfits, Mamun said they didn't have any information regarding communication with foreign militants. "The militants that we have in our country are home grown."

About Rab's capability of dealing with any possible militant attack, the Rab DG said, "We do not think that militants have that capacity now. But we do not become complacent. We are constantly increasing our capacity and technological capabilities. We are ready to face any situation."

Talking about narcotics, he said the Rab were keeping an eye on it through intelligence surveillance and cyber patrolling.

Responding to a question about the progress in the investigation into the murder of journalist couple Sagar Sarwar and Mehrun Runi, the elite force chief said, "We are investigating the case with due seriousness. We will submit the report once investigation is completed."

The couple was murdered inside their apartment in the capital's Raja Bazar on February 11, 2012.

About juvenile gangs, the Rab DG said juvenile delinquency is increasing alarmingly now.

"They [juvenile gangs] are also involved in violent and brutal crimes like murder. In order to save the next generation, it is necessary to pull in the reins on the 'teenage gang' culture now."

He said the Rab has launched a vigorous campaign against "Kishore Gang".

"We expect families to pay more attention to their children. Besides, the society has to come forward. The patrons who are leading teenagers into gang culture will not be spared."

Mamun expressed special gratitude to doctors, nurses, journalists, law enforcers, public representatives and other professionals who have been working for the country and humanity since the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

He said mobile courts are being operated against various irregularities, including marketing of adulterated products and increase in prices of commodities.

"Over the last one year, we have been conducting campaigns on using masks, hand sanitisers, illegal health safety kits, and fake test reports," he added.

In addition to maintaining law and order during the pandemic, the Rab has gained people's trust and love through providing food to the unemployed, helpless and destitute people, distributing health safety equipment, and offering emergency services to patients, the Rab DG told reporters.

https://www.thedailystar.net/bangladesh/news/militants-have-no-capacity-attack-now-2120801

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1 hour ago, Asaf Shahi said:

Bangladesh's security forces have broken the backs of the terrorist organisations in terms of launching any major attacks so more and more these terrorists will engage in opportunistic accounts and cyber terrorism/extremism. These are the areas where much more. 

wwlVWrH.jpg

Militants are not capable of carrying out any major subversive attack in the country at this moment, Rab Director General Chowdhury Abdullah Al Mamun has said.

"We are one step ahead of militants and that's why there is no violence by militants in the country now. We are taking actions before any major incident could occur," he said.

The chief of Rapid Action Battalion was speaking to reporters at the Rab headquarters yesterday about the current law and order in the country.

He said the Rab were monitoring militant activities in the cyber world and whenever they get information through this monitoring, they arrest militants and bring them to book.

Since the Holey Artisan Bakery attack in the capital's Gulshan on July 1, 2016, the Rab has arrested around 1,500 militants in last five years. Besides, 16 militants were rehabilitated after their surrender, said Mamun.

At least 20 local and foreign nationals were killed in the militant attack in 2016. Two police officials were also killed during an operation there.

Asked if there were any links between foreign and local militant outfits, Mamun said they didn't have any information regarding communication with foreign militants. "The militants that we have in our country are home grown."

About Rab's capability of dealing with any possible militant attack, the Rab DG said, "We do not think that militants have that capacity now. But we do not become complacent. We are constantly increasing our capacity and technological capabilities. We are ready to face any situation."

Talking about narcotics, he said the Rab were keeping an eye on it through intelligence surveillance and cyber patrolling.

Responding to a question about the progress in the investigation into the murder of journalist couple Sagar Sarwar and Mehrun Runi, the elite force chief said, "We are investigating the case with due seriousness. We will submit the report once investigation is completed."

The couple was murdered inside their apartment in the capital's Raja Bazar on February 11, 2012.

About juvenile gangs, the Rab DG said juvenile delinquency is increasing alarmingly now.

"They [juvenile gangs] are also involved in violent and brutal crimes like murder. In order to save the next generation, it is necessary to pull in the reins on the 'teenage gang' culture now."

He said the Rab has launched a vigorous campaign against "Kishore Gang".

"We expect families to pay more attention to their children. Besides, the society has to come forward. The patrons who are leading teenagers into gang culture will not be spared."

Mamun expressed special gratitude to doctors, nurses, journalists, law enforcers, public representatives and other professionals who have been working for the country and humanity since the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

He said mobile courts are being operated against various irregularities, including marketing of adulterated products and increase in prices of commodities.

"Over the last one year, we have been conducting campaigns on using masks, hand sanitisers, illegal health safety kits, and fake test reports," he added.

In addition to maintaining law and order during the pandemic, the Rab has gained people's trust and love through providing food to the unemployed, helpless and destitute people, distributing health safety equipment, and offering emergency services to patients, the Rab DG told reporters.

https://www.thedailystar.net/bangladesh/news/militants-have-no-capacity-attack-now-2120801

After the March 27 incident, can our respected security establishments cope with these radical elements in the foreseeable future?  

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/opinion/op-ed/2021/04/25/op-ed-the-ideology-of-hefazat

OP-ED: The ideology of Hefazat

Mahir Abrar 

Published at 03:40 am April 25th, 2021

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Al-Ma’arri drawn by Khalil Gibran 1917 WIKIMEDIA

What does it stand for?

Al-Ma’arri was an Arabic poet, philosopher, and writer who lived (December 973 – May 1057) during the Islamic Golden Age under the Abbasid era in Aleppo, which is in modern Syria. 

In 2019, Al-Ma’arri statue was vandalized in Syria by the al-Nusra Front, about a thousand years after his lifetime, because Al-Ma’arri was a rationalist, someone we might call a “nastik” (atheist) in Bangladesh. According to some accounts, he was a deist. He questioned Islam and its practises; at the same time he was critical of Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. He was an ethical vegetarian who was also an antinatalist. 

Despite his critical views on religion, he was not harassed or harmed during his lifetime. He lived in the centre of the Abbasid Caliphate and yet he did not fear to speak his mind. He lived when Islam was at its zenith and it represented the most advanced civilization in the world. Muslim cities were centres of culture while European cities had a barely functioning sewage system. This was a civilization at the peak of its development, filled with optimism and confidence. 

Hefazat-e-Islam would like to see a revival of the Golden Age but it does not understand the Golden Age. The ideology it represents is a reactionary one. It is the ideology of Abul A’la Maududi, the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, and Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. It is a reactionary ideology rooted in fear and humiliation. 

It is an ideology that is born from the humiliation of colonialism when almost the entire Islamic world found itself under European (Christian) colonial rule. The fear resulted in a world view that sees Islam in danger everywhere and it continues even after the end of colonialism. 

Despite Bangladesh being a Muslim-majority country where Muslims are free to practice, and Islam is the state religion, Hefazat feels the need to protect Islam. They feel that Islam is in danger but from what?

The Islamic Golden Age was an open civilization that encouraged and supported the study of medicine, science, philosophy, and mathematics. People of many faiths and beliefs lived freely in the Islamic word. It lasted from 900–1300 CE, and ended with the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongol horde. 

The Taliban regime that briefly ruled Afghanistan did not create a society that looked like the Islamic Golden Age and Hefazat-e-Islam’s vision does not look much different from the Taliban rule. In this year alone, Hefazat activists attacked Hindu temples in Brahmanbaria and Hindu homes and temples in Sylhet. They are not protecting anything, rather they are carrying out violent attacks on religious minorities. 

They seek to destroy our culture and replace it with a clone of the Taliban state in Afghanistan, where women are prisoners in their homes. Hefazat, like the Taliban, seeks to turn women into second-class citizens and reverse all the gains women have made in this country.

In Europe, Protestants and Catholics fought for hundreds of years and it took a secular state to achieve peace. The Thirty Year’s War was a war between Catholic and Protestant states in Central Europe in the 17th century in which 4.5 to 8 million died. By some estimates, the war had resulted in the death of one third of the population of Germany. 

It was necessary for European governments to adopt secular laws to prevent the recurrence of such war and deaths. The Islamic world is seeing something similar in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, and Pakistan in the conflict between Sunni and Shia sects. These wars are of course not entirely religion based; they are also shaped by the geopolitical rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. 

Hefazat, like the Taliban or the Islamic State, is not fighting for Muslims; instead, it is fighting fellow Muslims for practising Islam differently. The amount of energy, resources, and lives wasted in these fights are harming the development of Bangladesh and the Islamic world. 

The state needs to be a secular institute that favours no religion or sect; a neutral referee that protects the rights of all citizens irrespective of their beliefs. Bangladesh needs to return to the original spirit of the constitution that made secularism a pillar of our nation. That would mean creating a Uniform Civil Code that will apply to all citizens of Bangladesh, irrespective of their religion. It would mean abolishing the family laws based on religion established by the British Raj.

There is no love in the hearts of Hefazat leaders like Mamunul Haque. These people are motivated by their hate for others. This hate is transferred to their supporters. Look at the abuse they direct at the critics of Hefazat in the holy month of Ramadan. There is no spirituality or love in their words or actions but only blind hatred. 

They act as if attacking Hefazat is equivalent to attacking Islam; it is not. Hefazat does not represent Islam but the selfish interests of their leaders. Mamunul Haque who has a verified page and millions of views online makes a comfortable living off social media. It is comfortable enough for him to travel the country in his helicopter. 

I am reminded of the Hefazat rampage in Brahmanbaria. I was left wondering why they attacked a music school and a Hindu temple. I understand why they would attack government buildings and Awami League offices because their grievance is with this Awami League led government. 

Why the music school and temple? I am reminded of the time Hefazat leaders burned the phones of students at Hathazari Madrasa after finding music and dancing clips in them. I refer to a comment left by a Hefazat supporter on my Facebook page: “Bangladesh is a Muslim state, we shouldn’t allow Hinduism to be practised in our country.” 

Hefazat knows what it wants and is willing to do whatever it can to get it. We need to make a stand for the Bangladesh we grew up in where people of all faith lived in harmony. We need to take a stand for the rights of all citizens of Bangladesh or we risk becoming a failed Taliban state. We risk losing all our economic and social development made since our independence.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/22/world/asia/bangladesh-textbooks-radical-islam.html

To Secular Bangladeshis, Textbook Changes Are a Harbinger

By Ellen Barry and Julfikar Ali Manik

Jan. 22, 2017

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh’s Education Ministry was preparing to print the 2017 editions of its standard Bengali textbooks when a group of conservative Islamic religious scholars demanded the removal of 17 poems and stories they deemed “atheistic.”

By the time the books were distributed to schools on Jan. 1, the 17 poems and stories were gone, with no explanation from the government. Other changes had crept in, too: First graders studying the alphabet were taught that “o” stands for “orna,” a scarf worn by devout Muslim girls starting at puberty, not for “ol,” a type of yam; and a sixth-grade travelogue describing a visit to the Hindu-dominated north of India was replaced by one about the Nile in Egypt.

The changes were barely noticeable to the general public, but they alarmed some Bangladesh intellectuals, who saw them as the government’s accommodating a larger shift toward radical Islam.

Bangladesh has struggled to contain extremist violence in recent years, as Islamist militants have targeted secular writers and intellectuals. But equally significant, over the long term, are changes taking place in the general population: The number of women wearing the hijab has gradually risen, as has the number of students enrolled in madrasas, or Islamic schools.

That religious organizations now have a hand in editing textbooks, a prerogative they sought for years, suggests that their influence is growing, even with the Awami League party, which is avowedly secular, in power.

It is a shift that, increasingly, worries the United States. Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan in 1971, and in the decades that followed, it defined itself as adamantly secular and democratic.

For years, this ideology seemed to serve as an insulating force. Transnational jihadist networks that flourished in Afghanistan and Pakistan found little purchase in Bangladesh, despite its dense, poor Muslim population and porous borders.

But over the last several years, as extremist attacks on atheist bloggers and intellectuals became commonplace, secular thought was also fast receding from Bangladesh’s public spaces.

Islamist organizations, analysts say, are so skilled at mobilizing that it has become harder for the government to ignore their demands, especially with a general election coming in 2019.

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Hefazat-e-Islam, a vast Islamic organization based in Dhaka, the capital, first called for changes to the textbooks during huge rallies in 2013.

“We went to the higher-ups in the government,” Mufti Fayez Ullah, the group’s joint secretary general, said. “The government realized, ‘Yes, the Muslims should not learn this.’ So they amended it. I want to add that all the political parties, they consider their popularity among the people.”

A spokesman for the Education Ministry would not comment on the changes. Narayan Chandra Saha, chairman of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board, said the revisions were routine and not made at anyone’s request.

“If Hefazat claims the changes were made per their demand, I have nothing to say in this regard,” he said.

A protest against the changes, held outside the textbook board’s offices on Sunday, drew a few hundred students and political activists. But there has been no criticism from the country’s main opposition party, the Bangladesh National Party, which typically pounces on any controversial move by the Awami League.

“It’s like there is perfect consensus between the ruling party and the opposition on these issues,” said Amena Mohsin, a professor of international relations at the University of Dhaka. “In a majoritarian democracy, you give in to populism.”

The divide between Islamist and secular Bangladeshis came into sharp, sudden focus in 2013, when tens of thousands of activists — mostly students at provincial madrasas — flooded into the center of Dhaka with a list of demands: punishment for “atheist bloggers,” the destruction of sculptures and mandatory Islamic education, including changes to textbooks.

The government, alarmed, put forward its own education overhaul. Beginning in 2014, education officials required the country’s 10,000 government-registered madrasas to use standardized government textbooks through eighth grade, in the hope of better integrating young people from conservative backgrounds.

Siddiqur Rahman, a retired educator leading the effort to revise government textbooks for use by madrasas, said the goal was “pushing them into general education.”

“There was a wide gap in beliefs and thinking and attitude,” he said. “We are trying to change the attitudes of people on the street. It is difficult, but not impossible.”

It has required many compromises with religious leaders.

Madrasa leaders, in written recommendations to education officials, requested that “beautiful Islamic names” replace Hindu, Christian or foreign-sounding names in textbooks used in madrasas, saying this was “the concrete right of the people of Islamic monotheism.” They also requested the omission of any conversation between boys and girls, saying, “It’s a great sin in Islam to talk to a young girl for nothing.”

The authorities, apparently, were quite receptive. In English textbooks for use in madrasas, all Hindu, Christian or foreign-sounding names have been replaced by Muslim names. Conversations between boys and girls have been omitted. Illustrations of girls with bare heads have been edited out. The word “period” was removed from a section on girls’ physical development. The name of the chairman of the textbook board, a Hindu professor, does not appear.

“The government was a little flexible in that regard,” Mr. Rahman said. “I think that for achieving the greater good, some sacrifice should be made.”

But the officials who oversaw the editing initially refused Hefazat’s demand to omit the 17 poems and stories from the general textbook, used in 20,000 secondary schools as well as madrasas, according to two officials on the National Curriculum and Textbook Board, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Mufti Fayez Ullah, of Hefazat-e-Islam, said he had been compelled to go over those people’s heads to high-ranking officials.

“If the government is willing to address this demand, bureaucracy cannot be that much of a hurdle,” he said. “We went to the Education Ministry. We went to the higher-ups in the government.”

Rasheda K. Choudhury, an activist who served as a government adviser to the Education Ministry under the previous administration, said it was unclear who made the decision to accept the Islamists’ changes.

“Nobody knew about it. Nobody is taking responsibility,” she said. “Parents are asking me, ‘Should we start teaching our children at home?’”

The leaders of Hefazat-e-Islam, meanwhile, are eager to suggest the next round of changes. Arts and crafts courses should not instruct children to depict anything living, which is proscribed by Islam, and should instead offer instruction only in calligraphy, said Abdullah Wasel, a member of Hefazat’s central committee. The group also wants to eliminate physical education textbooks that depict exercise by girls or young women, Mr. Fayez Ullah said.

“What boys do, girls cannot do,” he said. “I can climb a tree, but my wife and sister, they cannot. It is not necessary to have pictures of girls doing exercise.”

But the larger goal, he said, goes far beyond textbooks. He hopes to push through a full separation of boys and girls beginning in the fifth grade. Mixing of sexes in the classroom, he said, results in young men and women who “prefer to live together, prefer to have physical relations before marriage.”

As for the National Curriculum and Textbook Board, Hefazat has petitioned the government to remove every current member, starting with the board’s chairman, Mr. Saha, who is Hindu, Mr. Fayez Ullah said.

“I would like to raise the question — and I am not saying I am against him — but is there not any Muslim that can be a chairman of the textbook board in this country?” he said. The group, he said, has requested that Mr. Saha be replaced with “a patriot who understands the sentiment and spirit of the population of Bangladesh.”

He added, “You cannot expect to grow jackfruit from a mango tree.”

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As Bangladesh is going to be a developed country by 2041, GoB must pass a tougher legislation to curb those extremist's influence ranging from office to home. 

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https://www.thedailystar.net/news/bangladesh/news/neo-jmb-forms-islamic-state-bengal-province-2124737

12:00 AM, July 06, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:43 AM, July 06, 2021

Neo JMB forms new committee

 

Sources in CTTC claim

Mohammad Jamil Khan

 

With an aim to build a strong base in Bangladesh, IS-inspired militant outfit Neo JMB has recently formed a 20-member committee.

The committee members, all from the "military wing" of the outfit, have named the committee "Islamic State of Bengal Province".

It also planned to train the members in Pakistan on making firearms and set up a factory in Bangladesh after collecting a firearm from Kashmir as sample, according to sources in Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

The Neo JMB's improvised explosive device (IED) expert, Sabbir Hossain, 26, also the military wing commander of the outfit's Mymensingh region unit, formed the committee.

CTTC officials claimed to have collected the information about Sabbir, also known as Bamchi Barak alias Major Bamchi alias Abu Hafs al Bengali, by tracking the Neo JMB's strategy.

Rahmatullah Chowdhury, additional deputy commissioner of the CTTC unit, said they recently came to know about the activities of Sabbir.

"We have learnt that Sabbir is carrying out activities hiding in Bangladesh. We are now trying to trace him and his associates to bring them to book," Rahmatullah, also the chief of the CTTC's Bomb Disposal Unit, told The Daily Star.

Sources said Sabbir has split the newly formed committee into four sub-sections -- "control wing", "military wing", "Shariah wing" and "financial wing".

The Neo JMB, who hails from a village in Jamalpur, had joined the militant outfit in 2016 following an online invitation.

The incumbent Neo JMB ameer, Mahadi Hasan Jon, had declared Sabbir a leader in 2019, said investigators.

Jon is now operating the outfit from Turkey. He was recently planning to hand over the charge of Neo JMB's Bangladesh operations to a new leader as it became difficult for him to run the organisation from abroad, according to a recent intelligence report of a law enforcement agency.

"We have learnt that Sabbir is an expert in making IED. He gained the expertise watching videos online. We suspect he has some IEDs in his possession," said a high official of the CTTC unit, requesting anonymity.

"We have details about transactions of Tk 2 lakh through an online money transfer platform. The money might have been sent home from abroad by Jon," the official told The Daily Star.

The official said they learnt after analysis of some online communication details that Sabbir already visited Jamalpur, Sherpur, Tangail and Kurigram to recruit members for Neo JMB.

Intelligence sources claimed Sabbir is also a relative of mainstream JMB Ameer Salahuddin Ahmed alias Salehin, believed to be hiding in India now. Sabbir recently came in close contact with the family members of mainstream JMB's bomb expert Mizan alias Boma Mizan.

Mizan was arrested in India in 2018.

Sources said Sabbir made printed tutorial materials on how to make IEDs, drones, and bombs.

CTTC officials said they have information that Sabbir in a meeting with two Islamic scholars tried to convince them to work for the outfit.

The officials said Sabbir is now planning to make bulletproof vests, collect a modern firearm from Kashmir and make firearms to distribute those among the military wing members of Neo JMB.

The CTTC unit is now trying to know about militant leader's educational background and family history to get more details about him.

Neo JMB, as called by law enforcers, is inspired by the ideology of Islamic State.

The mainstream JMB had carried out suicide bombing and synchronised blasts across the country over a decade ago.

The Neo JMB emerged in 2014 after IS burst onto the international scene. But it drew law enforcers' attention only after committing a grisly bank heist in Ashulia in April 2015, leaving eight people dead, said police sources.

Investigators say the Neo JMB is responsible for the July 1, 2016 Gulshan café attack in which 20 hostages, including 17 foreigners, were killed.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/bn/জঙ্গিদের-তৎপরতা-বেড়েছে,-শক্তিশালী-বোমা-তৈরি-করছে:-ডিএমপি-কমিশনার-1626777252

জঙ্গিদের তৎপরতা বেড়েছে, শক্তিশালী বোমা তৈরি করছে: ডিএমপি কমিশনার

 

 বিডিনিউজ টোয়েন্টিফোর ডটকম | Published:  July 20, 2021 16:34:12

বাংলাদেশে সম্প্রতি জঙ্গিদের তৎপরতার সঙ্গে বিস্ফোরক তৈরির সক্ষমতাও বেড়েছে বলে জানিয়েছেন ঢাকা মহানগর পুলিশ (ডিএমপি) কমিশনার মোহাঃ শফিকুল ইসলাম।

সোমবার ঈদুল আজহা ঘিরে নিরাপত্তা নিয়ে ডিএমপি মিডিয়া সেন্টারে সংবাদ সম্মেলনে তিনি একথা বলেন।

ডিএমপি কমিশনার বলেন, ‘রিসেন্টলি’ জঙ্গিদের সক্ষমতা যেমন বেড়েছে, তেমনি বোমা বানানোর ‘ক্যাপাবিলিটি’ও বেশ উন্নত হয়েছে।

“এর আগে ৫টি পুলিশ চেকপোস্টে বোমা বিস্ফোরণের ঘটনা ঘটেছিল। যেসব বোমা কম শক্তিশালী ছিল। রিসেন্টলি যেসব বোমা উদ্ধার হয়েছে, তা অত্যন্ত শক্তিশালী। এগুলো বিস্ফোরণ হলে ‘ম্যাসাকার’ হয়ে যেত।”

শফিকুল বলেন, তাদের সক্ষমতা বেড়েছে এবং নতুন লোককে প্রশিক্ষিত করে তারা বোমা বানানোর কাজে নিয়োজিত করেছে। এটা থেকে বুঝা যায়, তাদের প্রস্তুতি আছে।”

তবে জঙ্গিদের তৎপরতা প্রতিরোধে দেশের পুলিশও সক্রিয় রয়েছে দাবি করে তিনি বলেন, “কিন্তু আমরাও বসে নেই। কোনো ঘটনা ঘটার আগেই আমাদের প্রশিক্ষত যারা আছেন তারা দক্ষতার সাথে কাজ করছেন।

“যেখানে যতটুকু তথ্য পাওয়া যাচ্ছে, আমরা সাথে সাথে ব্যবস্থা নিচ্ছি।”

ডিএমপির পাশাপাশি এটিইউ, র‌্যাবসহ অন্য সংস্থাগুলোও কাজ করছে বলে জানান পুলিশ কমিশনার।

তিনি বলেন, করোনাভাইরাস মহামারী পরিস্থিতিতে বাইরে যাওয়ার সুযোগ কম থাকায় এখন ইন্টারনেটের মাধ্যমে জঙ্গিবাদ নিয়ে প্রচারণা বেড়েছে।

ঈদের সময় ঢাকা মহানগরীর নিরাপত্তা নিয়ে তিনি বলেন, “যারা ঢাকার বাইরে গ্রামের বাড়ি যাবেন, তারা ঘরের নিরাপত্তার জন্য দরজা জানালা ঠিকমত লাগিয়ে যাবেন এবং মূল্যবান সামগ্রী স্বজনের বাসায় রেখে যাবেন।

“সবাইকে এক সাথে কাজ করতে হবে; সচেতন হতে হবে। লাখ লাখ বাসায় নিরাপত্তা দেওয়া অসম্ভব ব্যাপার।”

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https://www.dhakapost.com/law-courts/50937

নব্য জেএমবির দুই সদস্য ৫ দিনের রিমান্ডে

নিজস্ব প্রতিবেদক

০২ আগস্ট ২০২১, ০৬:৩১ পিএম

jmb-bg-20210802183143.jpg

রাজধানীর যাত্রাবাড়ী থানা এলাকায় পুলিশের ওপর হামলার অভিযোগে গ্রেফতার নব্য জেএমবির দুই সদস্যের পাঁচ দিন করে রিমান্ড মঞ্জুর করেছেন আদালত।

তারা হলেন- শফিকুর রহমান হৃদয় ওরফে বাইতুল্লাহ মেহসুদ ওরফে ক্যাপ্টেন খাত্তাব ও মো. খালিদ হাসান ভূঁইয়া ওরফে আফনান।

সোমবার (২ আগস্ট) যাত্রাবাড়ী থানায় সন্ত্রাসবিরোধী আইনে করা মামলায় তাদের আদালতে হাজির করে পুলিশ। একইসঙ্গে মামলার সুষ্ঠু তদন্তের প্রয়োজনে তাদের দশ দিন করে রিমান্ডের আবেদন করেন। আবেদনের পরিপ্রেক্ষিতে ঢাকা মেট্রোপলিটন ম্যাজিস্ট্রেট আশেক ইমাম তাদের পাঁচ দিন করে রিমান্ড মঞ্জুর করেন।

রোববার (১ আগস্ট) যাত্রাবাড়ী থানা এলাকায় অভিযান চালিয়ে তাদের গ্রেফতার করে পুলিশ। এ সময় তাদের কাছ থেকে ৪০০ গ্রাম লাল রঙের বিস্ফোরক জাতীয় পদার্থ, তিনটি বিউটেন গ্যাসের ক্যান, এক সেট রিমোট কন্ট্রোল ডিভাইস, চার প্যাকেট ছোট আকারে বিয়ারিং বল, ১০টি ক্রিসমাস বাল্ব, দুটি কালো রঙের ইলেকট্রিক টেপ, একটি আইইডি তৈরির ম্যানুয়াল, হামলায় ব্যবহৃত একটি মোটরসাইকেল উদ্ধার করা হয়।

জানা যায়, গত ১৬ মে ঢাকার অদূরে নারায়ণগঞ্জের সিদ্ধিরগঞ্জ থানার সাইনবোর্ড ট্রাফিক বক্সে পুলিশের ওপর বোমা হামলার চালায় আসামিরা।

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https://www.tbsnews.net/features/panorama/how-religious-preachers-are-taking-hold-youtube-bangladesh-283744#.YQtpvdHgr4o.facebook

Masum Billah & Ariful Islam Mithu

05 August, 2021, 10:20 am

Last modified: 05 August, 2021, 11:03 am

How religious preachers are taking hold of YouTube in Bangladesh

The popular trend in country’s social media is not what you might expect – it is watching videos of ‘waz’ on YouTube

top_5_preaching_channels-01.jpg?itok=sup

 

Moqbul Hossain, a young security guard at an ATM Booth, was glued to his mobile screen, watching videos of religious sermons on YouTube. 

You could hear a preacher chastising his audience for not raising their voices loud enough.

"These atheists should be beaten like dogs. Hey young men, why don't you talk? Why are your voices so low?" preacher Eliasur Rahman Zihadi called on his audience to shout. 

A verified YouTube channel named 'Nice Waz', which has more than seven lac (0.7 million) subscribers, had uploaded the video titled 'Zihadi hujur against the atheists like a roaring tiger'. 

It is hard to say how the speech impacted Moqbul; he is not much of a talker. 

He scrolled on to other speeches, by other preachers. Consistent with the nature of social media, it is hard for Moqbul to focus on a particular preaching video for too long. And it is not like everyone out there is inciting anger.  

There are thousands of such videos by hundreds of preachers on dozens of verified channels on YouTube. These channels have millions of subscribers and millions of views. 

Rose TV, one of the top Bangla preaching channels, has more than 900 million views (921,821,011 views when this story was being filed).

Most of the preaching videos are recorded from on-site mehfils. Some channels create subject-wise smaller clips with catchy titles, instead of posting a whole lecture. 

If you search for 'Bangla waz' on YouTube, besides explanations of various Quranic topics, lives of prophets, and Islamic principles, some headlines will immediately draw your attention. 

For example, 'What did Golam Rabbani (a preacher) just say about MP Momtaz's speech in the parliament!' with the preacher and the MP's photo in the thumbnail. 

These channels (mostly owned by third parties while a few are owned by the preachers themselves) use clickbait tactics just like any other YouTube channel. 

There are so many preachers of different schools in Bangladesh that if you wanted to categorise them for an overall understanding of the impact they leave on society, it would be really tough.  

For example, one preacher, Abdur Razzak Bin Yusuf, said that "women have not been created for 'technology.' Women have been created only to serve their husband and breed babies.". 

In another video, he said "Satan's conspiracy is weak, but women's conspiracy is strong. Women are dangerous." 

In another one of his sermons, Razzak described Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, a pioneer Bengali woman writer and thinker, as a stigma for the nation. 
"Begum Rokyea is a stigma (kolongko) for the nation," Razzak said in one of his sermons in his usual passionate tone. "All the foolish and illiterate women like her are a stigma for the nation." 

Needless to say, this preacher is known for his controversial comments about women. 

In stark difference to Razzak, Mizanur Rahman Azhari, another preacher, can be found saying that "women are allowed to do business. They can do jobs with the permission of their husbands." 

Both preachers are popular in Bangladesh, each having tens of thousands of followers. 

The approach of their speech, tone, and views are different. But they are on the same page when it comes to their fans blindly following them without question. 

For example, a few TV channels made reports about the controversial and degrading remarks about women made by some preachers. 

When you scroll down the comment box, you will see most commenters hating the media for talking about this. 

"This channel is anti-preachers. Boycott them," Topu Raihan wrote in the comment box of one such report. 

"Abdur Razzak is the pride of Bangladesh; you cannot find a second one like him. The tyrants (Zalims) will not understand the words of the preachers (Alims)," said Tarik Hasan. 

Thanks to the devotion of their followers, the preachers usually do not encounter questions about what they say from their live audiences. 

But the preachers do question each other, invalidate each other, and if you look closely into the entire preaching industry, there are serious feuds among the preachers in Bangladesh. 

The different schools of preachers 

Say you have to make a list of the top five Muslim preachers in Bangladesh based on popularity. 

It would include Mizanur Rahman Azhari, Hafizur Rahman, Giasuddin Taheri, Enayetullah Abbasi, and Ahmadullah. 

Watch their preaching for a few days, and you will spot significant differences. 

We are not talking about the difference in their style of presentation, it is the different interpretations of Islam. 

For example, Dr. Mohammad Monzur-E-Elahi draws inspiration from Salafist Islam. But unlike Abdur Razzak Bin Yusuf and other Salafists who belong to the Ahle Hadith school, Monzur-E-Elahi will not sound extreme. 

The preachers of this school say that they interpret Islam solely based on Quran and Saheeh Hadith. However, they have a reputation of preaching an extreme version of Islam. 

Hafizur Rahman is perhaps one of the poster children of Deobandi school in Bangladesh. Qaumi Madrasahs in Bangladesh follow the academic curriculum of Darul Uloom Deoband, India. 

The Talibans and other Afghan militants are also inspired by the Deobandi school. Remember the recently arrested preacher Ali Hasan Osama? He used to be a Qaumi teacher. Search for his preaching video on YouTube, and you will find plenty of his lectures glorifying the Afghan Talibans and its founder Mullah Omar. 

Millions of Bangladeshi Muslims are adherents of 'peers'. There are dozens of 'silsila' (schools of peers) and hundreds of preachers spreading their respective versions of Islamic teaching all across the country. 

These groups mostly introduce them as adherent of Hanafi Islam. Dr Enayetullah Abbasi is perhaps one of the biggest stars of these groups. 

Besides, there are peers of Furfura, Sarsina, Kaderia, and many more who are known for preaching Sufi versions of Islam in Bangladesh. It is said that the spread of Islam in Bangladesh was possible largely because of them. 

From Deobandi, Qaumi, Alia, Sufi, Salafi to Sunni, there are numerous versions of Islamic interpretations present on the internet, thanks to the increasing presence of such preachers in Bangladesh. 

We asked Enayetullah Abbasi, the peer of Jaunpur who introduces himself as a Hanafi Muslim, about these differences. "The Salafists are a different 'Ferka'. They originate from Wahhabis. However, among the existing schools of Islamic interpretation in Bangladesh, there is no basic difference. All are on the same page when it comes to the basic issues of Islam. There are some small and institutional differences in terms of explanations of certain issues."

He said that preachers did not have a voice in the media before due to some 'censorship', but social media has given them opportunities to reach their audience directly. 

"I find this positive because you cannot evaluate the idea of Bangladesh's culture, social structure, and the state, without Islam. The main idea of liberation was derived from Islam," the preacher added.  

The feuds among preachers sells more on YouTube 

The feuds among preachers of diverse backgrounds make such platforms more dramatic to the audience. It is a big selling point of the preaching-based YouTube channels. 

You will find plenty of videos watched by millions that basically feature one preacher against another on the same topic. 

The preaching videos, thus, are not some boring religious edicts for the viewers. 

They are well-packaged entertainment of debate, fun, conflict, excitement, and often tension and incitement. So, they attract millions of views. 

You will find only a few established TV and drama channels with collective views crossing 1 billion, after much investment and years in business. 

But these preaching channels - as TBS observed a few dozens of them, have envious viewership - considering that most of them began to emerge after 2017. 

According to the US financial news website The Business Insider, one million views on YouTube can earn you something from $3,400 to $40,000, based on their complex algorithms, video size, etc. 

It is hard to find which channels earn how much just from the estimation of their views, but The Business Insider estimation helps us guess the 'minimum' figure. 

Let us consider Rose TV's viewership, 900 million, and multiply it with $3,400, as per Business Insider estimation. The result is $3,060,000, which is equivalent to approximately Tk250,920,000 (25 crore). However, there are other estimates that suggest YouTubers earn $1 for 1,000 views. In that case the figure changes drastically. But still, the total would remain gigantic. 

We found at least 20 such preaching channels ranging from 10 million to 900 plus million views. 

Now, most of these channels are not owned by the preachers. But do the preachers enjoy the royalties? 

It is hard to figure out, because the preachers do not feel comfortable sharing how much they are earning from preaching. 

Preachers refrain from disclosing their income

We talked to Gias Uddin Tahery - a popular preacher whose preaching is often dubbed into DJ songs by some YouTubers - to know how much he earns from a preaching session. 

Tahery did not feel comfortable answering the question. But he said during the season (November to February is regarded as the main preaching season) he conducts up to three preaching sessions every day. 

Although he felt shy talking about honorarium to us, he did talk about this to another YouTuber in an earlier interview that he is paid around Tk one lac per session. 

It is hard to find a concrete number for Tahery's income in one season, because he will not disclose, and he said his fees might vary from session to session. 

The unwillingness to disclose earnings is very common among the preachers. We asked several of them about how much they earn from preaching, but they do not feel comfortable to reveal their income. 

Societal influence of online preachers  

We asked sociologists and researchers how they evaluate the vibrant presence of preachers online.  

"Social media's nature of replicability at an unprecedented speed, ability to become relevant by responding on time and exploiting the context, taking the opportunity of cheap and easy access to the worldwide network helped the Islamist preachers to emerge as dominant actors in the Bangladeshi cyber-sphere," said Saimum Parvez, a digital media and politics analyst based in Bonn, Germany. 

"Now, the Islamist preachers can create and control their own content without depending on mainstream print or electronic media. The control over the production of the content enabled them to build their own narrative and reach their narratives to millions without almost any cost." 

Professor Sadeka Halim of the Sociology department of the University of Dhaka said that some preachers in the speeches "are saying vulgar things about women. They talk about controlling the mind and body of a woman. Their speeches also criticise other religious people in the country. These things have a lasting impact on society." 

She said that the government should monitor what these Islamic preachers are saying in the name of preaching. 

Saimum Parvez, however, finds different types of Islamic preachers online. "We should not blankly label them as threats to our security. We should analyse them case by case. Sermons, which justify violence and support terrorist organisations, are red flags. However, it would be unwise to say that Islamic preachers, in general, have a harmful impact on our society." 

Enayetullah Abbasi, when asked about the incitements of some preachers against atheists and women, said, "Some speakers become proponents (bokta probokta hoye jay) while explaining certain issues. Islam will not take responsibility for their speeches. But they will not be able to cause any harm because knowledgeable scholars are now in the field." 

How do the security apparatus evaluate the preachers' rise online?

In the past, a few preachers have been arrested for incendiary speeches that violated different laws, including the so-called child-preacher Rafiqul Islam Madani who made derogatory remarks on the Prime Minister. Interestingly, although he remains in jail, his speeches are still available online and continue to garner views.

Law enforcement agency officials said that there are a few thousand preachers in the country and they regularly monitor what the preachers say in their speeches. 

"We have enough capability to monitor the contents online. Moreover, we also monitor the offline mahfil speeches with the help of the intelligence departments and units, including the Special Branch of the police," said Md. Moniruzzaman, Additional DIG, Anti-Terrorism Unit. 

"Their speeches sometimes carry anti-state elements, which can break the social fabric of the country. For this reason, cases have been filed against some preachers," said Moniruzzaman. 

The Business Standard cited specific examples where the preachers violated existing law through their speeches, including attacks on national icons and the Prime Minister. 

"They are educated men and they know what can be said in the speeches and what cannot. If they say anything that goes against the law, we take actions according to the law," said Kamrul Ahsan, additional inspector general of police who heads the Anti-Terrorism Unit. However, he refused to make any remark on the specific instances cited by us.  

Kamrul Ahsan, additional DIG of Criminal Investigation Department who heads the Cyber Crime Command and Control of CID said that they usually investigate cases related to YouTube speeches only after a case has been filed. "We need someone to make a complaint to investigate a case." 

The security and societal aspects aside, admit it or not, the preachers are the biggest stars on YouTube in Bangladesh for now. 

Remember how preacher Mizanur Rahman Azhari's YouTube channel had nearly a million subscribers without even posting a video within a few days? 

And also, have you noticed girls making TikTok videos with the preachers' lectures? Or tech channels making preaching reviews and having millions of views? 

Tech Voice BD, a tech channel that reviews preaching instead of tech, has more views than Bangladesh's top YouTuber Salman Muktadir's YouTube channel 'SalmonTheBrownFish'. 

This leaves us with a clear understanding that a shift is happening on social media that we cannot ignore. 

We will have to wait to know how the preachers' robust online presence influences the society and the nation. 

But for now, let's just agree that watching waz – irrespective of the viewers being educated or illiterate – is the new trend in Bangladesh.

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CTTC arrests 3 Neo JMB members, including key bomb expert

 Tribune Report

 Published at 10:36 pm August 11th, 2021

One of the accused went missing on June 24, according to family members

The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police has arrested three members of the banned militant outfit Neo JMB.

CTTC chief DMP Additional Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman announced the development during a press conference at the DMP Media Centre on Wednesday. 

Md Jahid Hasan alias Raju alias Ismail Hasan alias Furkan, a key explosives expert and chief of Neo JMB’s military wing, was arrested from Dhaka's Kafrul area along with two of his associates by a team from the bomb disposal unit, said the CTTC unit chief.

The associates were identified as Saiful Islam Maruf alias Bashira, and Rumman Hossain Fahad alias Abdullah, he added.

On June 30, Hasan's family arranged a press conference where they said he went missing on June 24 after he left his Mirpur house to go to the mosque.

“To avoid arrest, Hasan – who graduated with a degree in chemistry from Jahangirnagar University – went into hiding,” the CTTC chief said.

Hasan was born to a poor family in Barguna's Patharghata upazila and joined Neo JMB in 2016, according to the CTTC unit.

“Hasan had knowledge of bomb making as he was a student of chemistry and became the key explosives expert in a very short time. He has produced IEDs, remote-controlled bombs, and trained other members as well,” the CTTC chief said.

During initial interrogation, Hasan acknowledged that he had been involved in attacks on police and planting bombs in police boxes, DMP Additional Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman said. 

Hasan also organized multiple meetings in Rohingya camps to expand the militant organization's activities, he added.

Saiful and Rumman had moved to the Bandarban area to receive military training. Saiful took part in several bombing missions, the CTTC unit chief said.

A case has been filed against the three with Kafrul police station. The arrested have been sent to court with a 10-day remand plea.

Moreover, a special team of Lalmonirhat district police with the help of the CTTC unit arrested another accused Neo JMB member, Nazmus Sakib, from Khilgaon on Tuesday night, reports UNB.

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TBS Report

14 August, 2021, 03:20 pm

Last modified: 14 August, 2021, 06:56 pm

Some trying to go to Afghanistan at Taliban’s calling: DMP commissioner

 

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Shafiqul Islam said some Bangladeshis were making their way from the country to Afghanistan in response to a call by Taliban to join their ranks.

"Recently, Taliban has been calling people to join their war in Afghanistan. And some people from Bangladesh have already been motivated to join the war. We think some have been caught in India, and some are trying to reach Afghanistan on foot and in other ways," the DMP commissioner said.

He made the response in reply to a question from reporters after inspecting the security arrangements at Dhanmondi-32 on the occasion of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's 46th martyrdom anniversary and National Mourning Day activities on 15 August.

He said that all the intelligence agencies of the government including the cybercrime unit of the DMP, were alert in this regard, reports Prothom Alo.

Shafiqul Islam said, "We arrested a militants the day before yesterday. He is a bomb expert. He used to train online on how to make bombs. A powerful bomb was recovered in Narayanganj, which was also made under his direct supervision. A significant number of militants have been arrested this month. They do not stop. But we are trying our best so that no more incidents happen in Bangladesh."

The DMP commissioner added, "The main objective of those who are carrying out militant attacks or are trying to, is to come to the attention of international media. In other words, they have to come before international media after every incident. In this regard, 15 August is very important for them. Even if a bomb would explodes two kilometres away from the venue on 15 August, it will attract international media.

"So they are trying. We have fears, but with the utmost dedication and effort, we are working to prevent such incidents from happening," said the commissioner.

The DMP said on the occasion of 15 August, no one will be allowed to enter Dhanmondi-32 without wearing a mask. There will be police security throughout the day, so respect can be paid at any time.

The DMP commissioner said, "Traffic will be controlled on this day. We will allow people to enter the venue after thorough checking at the check post. But as long as the prime minister is there, the whole venue will be empty. Hopefully, she will leave the venue around 7.30am. Then the venue will be open leaders for the Awami League, and then for general people."

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/crime/militants-renew-activity-taliban-take-afghanistan-288715

Nurul Amin

15 August, 2021, 10:25 pm

Last modified: 15 August, 2021, 10:26 pm

Militants renew activity as Taliban take Afghanistan

Ansar Al Islam members are showing fresh activity on various online platforms, with many making plans to go to Afghanistan to join the Taliban

 

Members of Bangladesh's banned militant organisation Ansar Al Islam are planning to reach Afghanistan to join the Taliban, spurred on by the Afghan militia's taking over of most of the country's territory.

They are now showing fresh activity on various online platforms, making plans to hijrat or migrate into Afghanistan, law enforcers told The Business Standard, adding that the Dhaka Metropolitan Police's (DMP) Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) Unit is working to prevent any more of them from reaching Afghanistan in the name of hijrat.

Leaders of the terror outfit have renewed their efforts to brainwash local youths, misusing the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan as an example of "Islam's big victory", said officials of the CTTC Unit.

Such enthusiasm to reach the war-torn nation was seen almost four decades ago during the Soviet-Afghan War.

Several CTTC officials said the local militants have gotten very excited over the news that the Taliban are right at the doorstep of the Afghan capital Kabul.

The police have launched an inquiry into the number of Bangladeshis who have already left for Afghanistan, and the identities of these people.

Ansar Al Islam is deliberately misinterpreting the teachings of Islam to encourage youths into entering Afghanistan – so that they can join the Taliban to help impose an Islamic regime in that country, police sources have said.

2 already reached Afghanistan

On 8 May, the CTTC arrested four members of Ansar Al Islam while they were preparing to leave for the war-ravaged country.

During questioning, the militants confessed that two of their members had already reached Afghanistan. These youths travelled by sea from Chattogram and used Pakistan as a corridor to reach their destination, detectives revealed.

According to CTTC sources, a number of youths have already left their homes for Afghanistan. Among them, Cumilla's Abdur Razzak and Sylhet's Sibbir Ahmed have made it to their destination.

Razzak used to study at a madrasa in Sylhet and made his living as a driver. When he left home, his brother Salman Khan filed a general diary (GD) at the Sylhet's Kotwali police station on 25 March.

Razzak – who was a college-level student – went to tablighs with his friends more than once. He had no television or laptops at his home, but he recently had bought a smartphone, police sources have said.

Meanwhile, his brother Salman Khan told the media, "Razzak left home on 24 March, and he told us that he is visiting a friend. He was supposed to return home in two days, but there is no trace of him as yet."

Police further said a youth from Noakhali named Rabiul has also left his home to reach the war-torn nations, but the law enforcers have yet to determine his whereabouts.

Many Bangladeshis had joined the Soviet-Afghan War almost four decades ago, and many who returned home, brought with them the poison of militancy. The CTTC is working to stop the tragic history from repeating itself.

On the issue, CTTC's Deputy Commissioner of Research and Development Md Habibunnabi Anisur Rashid said, "We have researched various facets of militancy. The youths who are planning to reach Afghanistan have raised fresh concerns. We will soon address the matter."

DMP Commissioner Shafiqul Islam on Saturday told reporters that some Bangladeshis are making their way to Afghanistan in response to a call by the Taliban to join their ranks.

He added, "Recently, the Taliban has been calling people to join their war in Afghanistan and some people from Bangladesh have already been motivated to join. We think some have been caught in India, and some are trying to reach Afghanistan on foot and in other ways.

"Government's intelligence agencies – including the DMP's cybercrime unit are alert over the matter."

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2021/08/16/extreme-religious-jihadi-bangla-contents-flood-digital-platforms

Extreme religious, Jihadi Bangla contents flood digital platforms

 M Abul Kalam Azad

 Published at 08:52 am August 16th, 2021

There is not a single official platform to counter the propaganda narratives of extremist groups, only a handful of radical platforms and contents are taken down

A video on 44 ways to join jihad was uploaded on the social media platform Facebook on August 7. The three-and-half minute video posted from a fake account, Ibne Nuhash, began with an Arabic sermon, showing the Holy Kaaba and horse-riding warriors fighting in the desert. It was followed by a Bangla interpretation of the sermon.

Most contents in the profile--texts or audio-visuals--shared among 1, 857 friends are about waging Jihad and combat training.

The user recently posted a list of 30 Islamic books, many denouncing democracy and democratic rulers while a few were exclusively on Jihad.

The account, which is just a month old, is merely the tip of an iceberg.

For example, another user, Mohammad Bin Kasim, regularly posts photos, videos and other contents to misguide people and push them toward radical ideology.

Many of his posts call for taking up arms and getting ready for Jihad.

The user posts many tips on evading the eyes of the law enforcement agencies and opening a fake account, using VPN and tor browser to spread jihadi contents for his 5000 friends.

Both the accounts are fake but successfully promote the ideology of al Qaeda. Such fake and real Facebook accounts and pages are plenty and operated by Bangladeshis from home and abroad to promote the ideology of al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS).

Facebook is immensely popular among Bangladeshis and thus extremists still find this social media platform a suitable territory to operate, although Facebook has a policy to take down all extreme contents from its platform.

Moreover, there are numerous IPs, websites, forums, blogs and messaging channels that are full of Bangla contents aimed at attracting the young and calling them, under the flag of Jihad, to establish Allah’s rule in Bangladesh and elsewhere.

Extremist groups have their own IPs. For example, the IP using which Gazwatul Hind is being run, is perhaps one of the biggest treasure troves of religious, radical and jihadi contents.

One will need months to go through all the contents available here.

Like every radical platform, Gazwatul Hind shares links with hundreds of other platforms that are actively spreading radical ideology. One of them is Muwahdidun, a blog where guidelines are shared for those who are willing to join online Jihad. They provide instructions on how to operate as a lone wolf mujahid.

The forum has links of 32 media platforms that are run by different radical and jihadist groups in Bangladesh and elsewhere along with an archive section.

Among many records in the archives, there is a list of 24 Bangladeshis who died in Afghanistan while fighting Soviet soldiers in the 1980s. A note reads: names of those Bangladeshis who fought against the US soldiers and died will be disclosed soon.

The alfirdaws.org seems like a news site but a closer look will reveal that it is a radical site publishing articles on carrying out attacks and various activities of jihadist groups in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The headlines, photos and videos are crafted to glorify the groups and spread a message that there is no alternative but to take up arms and join combat for the cause of Islam.

One of the latest articles describes how the mujahideen of al Shabab, an al Qaeda supported jihadist group in East Africa, occupied territory battling Ugandan soldiers.

Launched from Iceland in mid-2019, this site is being operated by a group of Bangladeshis living in different countries and has a good number of readers here in the country.

Most of these platforms are interconnected, share each other’s contents and promote their activities to expand networks. Many operate openly while others do so covertly.

A Dhaka Tribune study on a dozen radical platforms over the past couple of months has revealed that they are very active and upload Bangla contents frequently. There are contents that term the Awami League government and law enforcement agencies as Taghut (Islamic terminology denoting a focus of worship other than God) and criticizing them for going against Islam lovers. Some contents clearly hint at toppling the government and replacing it with Islamic rule.

“Hundreds of these platforms popped up during these pandemic times and are breeding a new generation of extremists,” said cybersecurity analyst Tanvir Hassan Zoha, who has been tracking radical networks since 2012.

Scanty monitoring, no official platform to counter propaganda

The law enforcement agencies cannot keep on tracking the vast trove of online radical activities and pull them down. What is surprising is that there is not a single platform run by any government agency to counter the radical platforms and their extreme religious and Jihadi narratives.

Dedicated online platforms to counter extremists have been in discussion for many years but Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) Deputy Commissioner Abdul Mannan says for each platform that is taken down, many more pop up.

“We do track and shutdown platforms but the fact is radicals don’t remain in one platform for long. They open new windows and shift there,” he told Dhaka Tribune.

Another CTTC official pointed out, “We should have several powerful websites and Facebook pages to fight radicals digitally or the radicals will have a free reign to recruit new members and grow strong.”

Extremists are in darknet

Tanvir Hassan Zoha, who is also the managing director of the IT firm Backdoor Private Ltd, says that among the patterns that have been noticed over the years is of militants successfully adapting to new technologies and social media platforms to reach a larger audience.

Last year, Hizb-ut Tahrir organized an online seminar and in its announcement poster the banned outfit used its dark web link for people to join the program live.

“Radicals now consider the surface web risky. So, they are slowly moving to darknet access which needs a certain level of tech knowledge. Many global and regional jihadists have already been in the dark web for some years now. We need to track the extremist groups in the darknet for getting a real picture of extremism and terrorism,” Zoha said[1] .

The story doesn’t mention whose quote it is. I am assuming it’s Zoha’s.

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TBS Report

16 August, 2021, 11:25 am

Last modified: 16 August, 2021, 11:29 am

3 Bangladeshis escape from Kabul jail

 

Three Bangladeshi prisoners have fled from jail in Kabul after the Taliban captured the Afghan capital and opened the doors of the prisons in Kabul.

Bangladesh's ambassador to Uzbekistan, Md Jahangir Alam, who is also serving as a distant ambassador to Afghanistan, informed the matter.

He told Prothom Alo that the three Bangladeshis who escaped from the jail are-Moin Al Mezbah of Daulatpur upazila in Khulna, Kawsar Sultana of Mirpur (Bashantek) in the capital and Ubaidullah Harun of Fulgazi in Feni.

The Ambassador said, "Moin Al Mezbah contacted the embassy and he was told to stay safe. The embassy also said it would arrange for him to return to Bangladesh."

Multiple information is available about the crimes of the three Bangladeshi prisoners who escaped.

According to a source, they were involved in illegal VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) business while another source said that a total of four Bangladeshis, including the three, were sent to jail a few years ago on charges of aiding the Taliban.

"So far no Bangladeshi living in Kabul has been reported injured or in crisis," said the ambassador.

Meanwhile, the non-governmental organisation BRAC said that the process of bringing back six Bangladeshi officials of BRAC International in Afghanistan is underway.

Earlier, three were returned last Friday.

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