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Bangladesh's counter-terrorism efforts

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TBS Report

16 August, 2021, 08:05 pm

Last modified: 16 August, 2021, 08:09 pm

Taliban’s recapture of Afghanistan might cause new wave of militancy in Bangladesh: DMP chief


Taliban's recapture of Afghanistan might cause a new wave of militancy in Bangladesh and other sub-continent countries, fears Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Shafiqul Islam.

While speaking to the media on Monday, he said resurgence of militancy in Bangladesh is always connected with major international events and recent development in Afghanistan might encourage some youths in Bangladesh to get involved in militancy.

The DMP chief also said that coordinated efforts made by the police and other state agencies are essential to prevent resurgence of militancy in Bangladesh.

Shafiqul stressed that guardians of youths, university teachers, and authorities must have close monitoring on youths and inform the police if anyone remains missing.

"Guardians must immediately inform the police in case their children go missing," said the police officer.

Earlier on Saturday, the DMP chief said some Bangladeshis had already migrated towards Afghanistan to respond to the call from the Taliban to join the on-going fighting.

"Few of them have been arrested in India while few others are now trying to reach Afghanistan on foot," he said, adding, "Cyber monitoring is being continued and all agencies are informing whenever they find anything suspicious. All intelligence agencies are working actively."   

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police has tightened their security arrangement at the capital's diplomatic zone days before the seizure of Kabul by the Taliban on Sunday.

"Not only for Afghanistan mission in Dhaka but extra measures have also been taken in the diplomatic area days before the incident," said Ashraful Islam, deputy commissioner at the diplomatic security division.

He said no additional support was sought by Afghan diplomats in Dhaka thus far.

"We are ready to extend support prescribed by our foreign ministry on this issue," he told the media.

A handful of Afghanistan diplomats are currently residing in Dhaka.

Bangladesh closed down its Embassy in Kabul following the Russian invasion in Afghanistan.

Later, the authorities decided to reopen the embassy, but it had not been possible to do so because of the security concerns.

The Bangladesh ambassador to Uzbekistan is presently concurrently accredited to Afghanistan.

'As soon as the situation becomes conducive, we would like to reopen the embassy,' said the foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen in a webinar on 9 August.

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12 hours ago, Joel Ahmed said:


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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How powerful is the present JMB?

Many sources have said the activities of the banned outfit are going on secretly


It was 17 August 2005. A simultaneous bomb attack in 63 districts by the Jamaat Ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) shook the whole country when two judges in Jhalakathi, among many others, died.

Sixteen years have passed since the dreadful incident. Many members of the banned outfit have been executed or sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. 

The police said they always carefully monitor the activities of militant outfits, even at grassroots levels, to prevent their revival.

However, questions remain about how active and powerful JMB is at present. Although the discussion in this regard has been going on for several years, many sources have said the activities of the banned outfit are going on behind closed doors even though those are not obvious.

A responsible official of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit said JMB was once an active and powerful organisation, but it does not have much activity at present. 

However, there are still pro-JMB groups in several districts and remote areas in the north, but they are not more than 1,000, he added.

Rahmatullah Chowdhury, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, CTTC's Bomb Disposal Unit, told TBS they were regularly monitoring JMB's activities.

The CTTC unit arrested Rezaul Haque, the acting Amir of the JMB, in April last year. He is accused of being involved in a series of bombings across the country in 2005.

However, there is no definite information about who took charge of JMB after the arrest of Rezaul. At the same time, the CTTC is not sure about the whereabouts of Salahuddin alias Salehin, who fled to India after being abducted from a prison van in the Trishal area of Mymensingh, he added.

Salehin has been reportedly trying to reactivate the JMB in India, according to CTTC and several Indian media outlets. In addition, Salehin and Zahidul Islam alias Boma Mizan, who fled to India, tried to run Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen India or JMI in several states, including West Bengal and Cooch Behar, he said further.

The Special Task Force of India has also reported the arrest of JMB members at various times over the past few years.

According to the police headquarters and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), there were 130 accused in 17 August cases, 961 people were arrested and charge sheets were filed against 1,072 people.

According to the police, the trial of 104 out of 161 cases across the country has been completed. Besides, 340 people have been sentenced to different terms. Of these 15 have been sentenced to death, 358 have been released and 133 accused are released on bail.

On 29 March 2007, Shaikh Abdur Rahman alias Bangla Bhai, Siddiqul Islam, Khaled Saifullah, Ataur Rahman Sunny, Abdul Awal and Iftekhar Hasan Al Mamun were executed. Accused Asadul Islam Arif was executed on 17 October 2016.

Court sources said it has not been possible to settle 41 cases across the country due to the non-appearance of witnesses.

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DMP chief: Taliban victory may encourage militants in Bangladesh


 Published at 10:26 pm August 16th, 2021

Law enforcement agencies are prepared, but people need to cooperate'

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam on Monday expressed concern that the situation in Afghanistan may encourage militants in Bangladesh.

“Militants in Bangladesh are encouraged viewing the international current situation and they are organizing as a result,” the DMP chief told reporters.

He said the Taliban victory would create a new wave of militancy in the sub-continent as extremists would be happy over it.

He said law enforcement agencies are ready to control any situation that may arise in the country.

He also urged the guardians to be careful in light of the current situation.

 “We should take the situation seriously and take necessary steps in this regard,” he said.

Replying to a question, the DMP commissioner said: “We are prepared but everyone should work in a coordinated way to tackle the new wave following Taliban’s victory. It is not only the work of police, the guardians and the authorities concerned of the universities should assist police.”

Intelligence agencies are also keeping close vigil, he said. 

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August 17 countrywide bombings by JMB weren’t a surprise package

 M Abul Kalam Azad

 Published at 01:14 pm August 17th, 2021

The near simultaneous 500 explosions in 2005 were the result of allowing the militant group to operate freely even after its involvement in repeated bomb attacks and murders

Medina University educated Abdur Rahman, who formed Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in April 1998 to establish Islamic rule in Bangladesh by waging Jihad, found a formidable atmosphere to move ahead with his mission. 

For the following two years, Rahman travelled to different parts of Bangladesh and mobilized a great deal of followers, believing that he would be able to materialize his mission the way Taliban once did in Afghanistan. 

The year before JMB was formed, Rahman went to Pakistan and took training on operating firearms and explosives, combat tactics and maintaining secrecy at a Lashkar-e-Taiba training camp for 20 days. It boosted his confidence.

During those years, another terror group Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, Bangladesh (HuJi,B) had been carrying out grenade attacks one after another but faced no trouble. 

Rahman was encouraged by the inaction of the authorities against HuJi.B men. He thought he and his followers would go scot-free after committing crimes. 

In 2000, JMB attacked and killed the writer of the book "Nari Tumi Manush Chhile Kobey” (women when were you human?) Monir Hossain Sagar in Tangail for making “indecent remarks about Allah and the prophet” in the book. It carried out two more attacks in 2001.

In separate attacks in Rahman’s home district Jamalpur, the militant group slaughtered two converted Christians in 2001. 

Same year, 10-12 JMB operatives were nabbed in Dinajpur’s Parbatiyapur with bombs. They went there for training on making bombs. All were released on bail the following year.

During a blast in a Rangamati hotel in mid-2001, JMB leader Nasrullah died while another leader Shamim was injured. Shamim was arrested but walked out of jail later.

First the Awami League government and then BNP-Jamaat alliance regime did not take all these attacks and blast incidents seriously. Neither conducted an investigation to know the real motive behind those incidents. 

After every criminal offence, the JMB leadership faced no troubles. This gave them all the inspiration to carry out attacks more frequently.

In 2002, a lower-ranked JMB leader Siddiqul Islam Bangla Bhai led a group to kill Tarapado Poddar, a leader of religious minority community, in Bagerhat. The mission failed as people caught five operatives, including Bangla Bhai and handed them over to police.

All were later sent to jail for trial but walked out of jail within a month only to launch bomb attacks in a cinema and a circus pandal in Satkhira, leaving three people dead.


The deadliest attack came on December 7, 2002 when JMB men carried out simultaneous bomb attacks in four cinemas, killing 10 innocent people and injuring over a hundred. 

Instead of a proper investigation and arrest of the attackers, the then government accused the opposition Awami League of plotting the attack and subsequently arrested several leaders. 

JMB was happy to remain out of the dragnet.

After the Mymensingh cinema blasts, the militant group shifted its focus to the other part of the country. In January 2003, JMB launched an attack on a fair in Tangail’s Shakhipur that killed seven people 

The same month, a group of JMB men raided a shrine in Kalai upazila in Joypurhat and slaughtered five khadems to loot away Tk 20 lakh. The terror group needed money for buying explosive substances and training its members on bomb-making.

No JMB operative was either implicated in the attacks or arrested. JMB kept operating freely as police arrested some villagers for the offence.

Later in February 2003, one JMB man was killed and two others injured in an explosion while manufacturing bombs in a mess in Dinajpur. Police recovered explosives, bomb-making materials and manuals, and one revolver from the blast scene. The injured JMB operatives were arrested and put in jail but for several months.

JMB’s strength demonstrated

JMB’s strength was demonstrated when they fought with a police team in Khetlal of Joypurhat.

On the night of August 14, 2003, a police team went to a house in Uttor Moheshpur village on information that many people gathered there with an ulterior motive. 

It was in fact a regional conference of over 100 JMB leaders and activists. A battle between police and JMB operatives left several police personnel seriously injured.

Police managed to arrest a large number of JMB operatives. They also arrested Bangla Bhai when he went to Joypurhat jail gate to meet the arrested fellows. Surprisingly, he was given clean-chit and released. 

The other arrested JMB men were also released on bail within eight months. It is learnt that JMB leadership spent a good amount of money for their release. Some BNP-Jamaat leaders and police officers made the job easy.

The BNP-Jamaat government should have cracked down the militant outfit after the battle but it did not and allowed the group to be more ferocious.

Meanwhile, JMB killed a Rajshahi University professor while another professor of Dhaka University survived an attack.

Facing no challenges, Rahman thought of doing something that would take his group to a new height. He decided to come out of hiding and operate openly. 

End of April 2004, he chose Baghmara of Rajshahi and some other places in neighbouring Natore and Naogan districts to show his strength. JMB set up camps, picked up persons it deemed enemies of Islam and tortured them in broad daylight.

Instead of arrest, then police and local administration helped Bangla Bhai and his bridge members to rule the areas for about one month. Some ruling party leaders supported them. The then Industries Minister and Jamaat leader Motiur Rahman Nizami accused the media of creating Bangla Bhai. 

Following widespread media reports and criticism, then prime minister Khaleda Zia ordered for the arrest of Bangla Bhai but there was none to carry out her order. 

JMB leaders went into hiding but had nothing to worry about. They thought of doing something that would not only earn people’s attention but also take them to the global terror landscape.

Silently JMB’s explosive experts kept preparing bombs. Its leadership fixed August 17, 2005 and exploded 500 bombs in 63 districts.

In 13 terror attacks, JMB killed 53 people before the countrywide bombings. There were also many blast incidents that left JMB operatives dead. Bomb-making materials and firearms were seized from the scenes—all were enough for the BNP-Jamaat government to take the matter seriously and crackdown on the JMB. 

The intelligence agencies also kept mum, allowing Rahman and his outfit to plan for an unprecedented attack like that of August 17. In fact, the countrywide bombings would never happen had the governments and its law-enforcement agencies clampdown hard on JMB. 

Eventually, Rahman, who was later popularized as Shaikh Rahman, and his top aides got captured and executed in 2007.

Rahman’s dream for a Bangladesh to be ruled by Islamic law could not be accomplished but he and JMB are an example of how a simple group could turn notorious, if went unpunished.

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জঙ্গিদের এখনকার বোমা ‘দুর্বল’ ঠেকছে পুলিশের কাছে


Published:  August 17, 2021 12:07:20 | Updated:  August 17, 2021 16:52:30


১৬ বছর আগে সারাদেশে একযোগে বোমা হামলা চালিয়ে বাংলাদেশে নিজেদের অস্তিত্বের জানান দিয়েছিল জঙ্গিরা; তার ১১ বছর পর সামর্থ্যের সর্বোচ্চ প্রকাশ ঘটিয়েছিল গুলশান হামলার মধ্যদিয়ে। কিন্তু এখন জঙ্গিদের তৎপরতা আর তেমন দৃশ্যমান নয়।

আইনশৃঙ্খলা বাহিনীর টানা অভিযানে ‘সামর্থ্য হারানো’ জঙ্গিরা এখন বোমা তৈরিতেও দুর্বল হয়ে পড়েছে বলে দাবি করেছেন অ্যান্টি টেররিজম ইউনিটের পুলিশ সুপার ছানোয়ার হোসেন।

দীর্ঘদিন বোমা নিষ্ক্রিয়করণ ইউনিটে মাঠ পর্যায়ে কাজের অভিজ্ঞতায় তিনি সোমবার বলেন, “আগে জঙ্গিরা যেসব বোমা তৈরি করত, তা অনেক শক্তিশালী ছিল। এমনকি ২০১৬ সালের হলি আর্টিজান বেকারিতে যেসব বোমা ব্যবহার করা হয়েছে, তাও শক্তিশালী ছিল।

“কিন্তু এখন জঙ্গিরা যেসব বোমা তৈরি করছে, তা শক্তিশালী নয় এবং ত্রুটিপূর্ণ।”

বাংলাদেশে জঙ্গিরা ভেতরে ভেতরে কাজ চালালেও তাদের সংগঠিত শক্তির প্রকাশ ঘটেছিল ২০০৫ সালের ১৭ অগাস্ট। সেদিন ৬৩ জেলায় একযোগে বোমা হামলা চালিয়ে আলোচনায় আসে জামায়াতুল মুজাহিদিন বাংলাদেশ (জেএমবি)।

মূলত আফগানফেরত জঙ্গিরাই বাংলাদেশে জঙ্গি সংগঠন গড়ে তোলার ক্ষেত্রে মূল ভূমিকা পালন করেছিলেন। কিন্তু বিশ্বে পালাবদলে তালেবানকে ছাপিয়ে ইসলামিক স্টেটসের উঠে আসা বাংলাদেশের জঙ্গি তৎরতায়ও পালাবদল ঘটায়।

জেএমবির শীর্ষনেতাদের ফাঁসির পর আইএসের মতাদর্শে গড়ে ওঠে নতুন দল, যাদের ‘নব্য জেএমবি’ বলে আখ্যায়িত করছে পুলিশ।

২০১৬ সালে হলি আর্টিজান বেকারিতে নব্য জেএমবিই হামলা চালিয়েছিল, যা বিশ্বজুড়ে আলোড়ন তোলে।

এরপর আইনশৃঙ্খলা বাহিনীর সাঁড়াশি অভিযানে জঙ্গিদের ডানা ভেঙে দেওয়া হয়েছে বলে দাবি করে আসছেন আইনশৃঙ্খলা বাহিনীর কর্মকর্তারা; যদিও এর মধ্যেও কয়েকটি ছোটখাট বোমা বিস্ফোরণ ঘটিয়েছে জঙ্গিরা।

ছানোয়ার জানান, জেএমবির ১০ থেকে ১২ জন আর নব্য জেএমবির ১০ থেকে ১২ জন বোমা তৈরির ‘কারিগর’ ছিল।

জঙ্গিদের বোমা তৈরিতে দুর্বল হওয়ার কারণ কী- জানতে চাইলে তিনি বলেন, “এখন আর পুরোনো জেএমবির কেউ নেই। আর হলি আর্টিজান ঘটনার পর অনেকই নিহত হয়েছেন, অনেকে গ্রেপ্তার হয়েছেন।

“আবার বোমা তৈরির করার উপাদান আগে যেভাবে পাওয়া যেত, এখন আর সেই পথও বন্ধ।”

প্রশিক্ষণ এখন অনলাইনে

আইনশৃঙ্খলা বাহিনীর কড়া নজরের কারণে জঙ্গিরা এখন তাদের যোগাযোগ রক্ষার পাশাপাশি এমনকি বোমা তৈরির প্রশিক্ষণও অনলাইনে নিচ্ছে বলে খবর পেয়েছেন গোয়েন্দারা।

সম্প্রতি কাউন্টার টেরোরিজম এন্ড ট্রান্সন্যাশনাল ক্রাইম ইউনিট কয়েকজন জঙ্গিকে গ্রেপ্তার করে বলছে, তারা অনলাইনে বোমা তৈরি শিখেছে।

গত ১ অগাস্ট যাত্রাবাড়ী থেকে সিটিটিসি শফিকুর রহমান হৃদয় ওরফে খাত্তাব ও খালিদ হাসান ভূইয়া ওরফে আফনান নামে নব্য জেএমবির দুই সদস্যকে গ্রেপ্তার করে।

পরে সংবাদ সম্মেলনে সিটিটিসি প্রধান মো. আসাদুজ্জামান বলেন, এ বছরের ১৬ মে সাইনবোর্ড এলাকায় পুলিশের ট্রাফিক বক্সে যে বোমাটি রেখেছিল জঙ্গিরা, তা অনলাইনে তৈরি করা শিখিয়েছিলেন নব্য জেএমবির প্রশিক্ষক জাহিদ হাসান রাজু ওরফে ফোরকান।

‘রিমোট কন্ট্রোল প্যানেলে ত্রুটির’ কারণে সেদিন বোমাটি বিস্ফোরিত হয়নি।

১১ জুলাই নারায়ণগঞ্জ জেলার আড়াইহাজার থেকে আব্দুল্লাহ আল মামুনকে বোমা তৈরির সরঞ্জামসহ গ্রেপ্তার করে সিটিটিসি।

পরে ১০ অগাস্ট কাফরুল থেকে ফোরকানসহ তিনজনকে গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়। অন্য দুজন হলেন- সাইফুল ইসলাম মারুফ ওরফে বাসিরা ও রুম্মান হাসান ফাহাদ ওরফে আবদুল্লাহ।

ফোরকান সম্পর্কে সিটিটিসির প্রধান আসাদুজ্জামান বলেন, তিনি নব্য জেএমবির প্রধান প্রশিক্ষক ও বোমা প্রস্তুতকারক।

ফোরকান জাহাঙ্গীরনগর বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় থেকে রসায়নে অনার্স শেষ করলেও মাস্টার্স করেননি। ২০১৬ সালে তিনি নব্য জেএমবিতে ভেড়েন বলে গোয়েন্দারা জানান।

এক গোয়েন্দা কর্মকর্তা বলেন, “রসায়নের ছাত্র হওয়ায় ফোরকান অল্পদিনে গ্রেনেড ও বোমা বানাতে দক্ষ হয়ে উঠে। দলের বাছাইকৃত সদস্যদের বিভিন্ন টাইম বোমা ও রিমোট কন্ট্রোলড বোমা তৈরির প্রশিক্ষণ দিত সে অনলাইনে।”

আগে জঙ্গিরা হাতে-কলমে বোমা তৈরি শিখলেও এখন তা শিখতে না পারাও তাদের বোমার দুর্বলতার কারণ, বলেন ওই গোয়েন্দা কর্মকর্তা।

র‌্যাবের আইন ও গণমাধ্যম শাখার পরিচালক কমান্ডার খন্দকার আল মঈন বলেন, “ম্যানুয়েল আর অনলাইন যেভাবেই জঙ্গিরা কাজ করুক না কেন, সবকিছুই মনিটরিংয়ের আওতায় আনা হয়েছে এবং অনেককে গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়েছে।”

ঢাকার ৯ মামলার ৫টি এখনও অনিষ্পন্ন

দেড় দশক আগে সারাদেশে একযোগে জঙ্গিদের বোমা হামলার ঘটনায় ঢাকায় যে পাঁচটি মামলা হয়েছিল, তার পাঁচটির বিচার এখনও শেষ হয়নি।

মামলাগুলো এখনও সাক্ষ্যগ্রহণের পর্যায়ে রয়েছে বলে জানিয়েছেন ঢাকার মহানগর পাবলিক প্রসিকিউটর আব্দুল্লাহ আবু।

ওই হামলার ষোড়শ বার্ষিকীতে সোমবার খোঁজ নিতে গেলে তিনি বিডিনিউজ টোয়েন্টিফোর ডটকমকে এই তথ্য জানান।

কী কারণে এত দেরি- প্রশ্ন করা হলে আব্দুল্লাহ আবু বলেন, “সাক্ষীদের হাজির করা সম্ভব হচ্ছে না বলে বিচার কাজে বিলম্ব হচ্ছে। এছাড়া কোভিড-১৯ এর কারণে আদালত বন্ধ থাকায় মামলার কার্যক্রমও বন্ধ ছিল।”

তবে কোন মামলা কোনে আদালতে, কতজন সাক্ষ্য দিয়েছে, কারা সাক্ষ্য দিতে আসছে না, এসব প্রশ্নের উত্তর পাওয়া যায়নি তার কাছে।

রাষ্ট্রের এই গুরুত্বপূর্ণ মামলার পরিপূর্ণ তথ্য না থাকার বিষয়ে রাষ্ট্রপক্ষের এই কৌঁসুলি বলেন, “সবকিছু তো আর মনে রাখা সম্ভব নয়। খোঁজ নিয়ে জানানো যাবে।”

২০০৫ সালের হামলার মূল লক্ষ্যবস্তু ছিল আদালত। সরকারি, আধা-সরকারি গুরুত্বপূর্ণ স্থাপনায় হামলা চালানো হয়। হামলায় দুজন নিহত হয়। আহত হয় দুই শতাধিক মানুষ।

সেই ঘটনায় সারাদেশের বিভিন্ন থানায় ১৫৯টি মামলা দায়ের করে পুলিশ। এর মধ্যে ইতোমধ্যে ৯৩ নিষ্পত্তি হয়েছে। তাতে ৩৩৪ জনের বিভিন্ন মেয়াদে সাজা হয়েছে।

দেশে এই পর্যন্ত ২৭ আসামিকে জঙ্গি সংশ্লিষ্টতার মামলায় ফাঁসির আদেশ দেওয়া হয়েছে।

এর মধ্যে আটজনের ফাঁসির রায় কার্যকর হয়েছে।

২০০৭ সালের ২৯ মার্চ রাতে শীর্ষ জঙ্গি নেতা জেএমবির আমির শায়খ আবদুর রহমান, সিদ্দিকুল ইসলাম বাংলাভাই, খালেদ সাইফুল্লাহ, আতাউর রহমান সানি, আবদুল আউয়াল, ইফতেখার হাসান আল মামুনের মৃত্যুদণ্ড কার্যকর করা হয়।

১৫৯টি মামলার মধ্যে বাকি ৬৬টি মামলা এখনও বিচারাধীন। এসব মামলায় মোট আসামির সংখ্যা ৪০০। সব আসামিকে পুলিশ গ্রেপ্তারও করতে পারেনি।

পুলিশ সদর দপ্তরের তথ্য অনুযায়ী, ১৫৯টি মামলায় ১ হাজার ১৩১ জনকে অভিযুক্ত করে অভিযোগপত্র দাখিল করা হয়। এদের মধ্যে ১ হাজার ২৩ জন গ্রেপ্তার হয়েছে। ১০৮ জন এখনও পলাতক।

আফগানিস্তানে তালেবানের পুনরুত্থানের প্রভাব পড়বে?

বাংলাদেশে জঙ্গি উত্থানের সঙ্গে যে আন্তর্জাতিক যোগ রয়েছে, তা বলছেন ঢাকার মহানগর পুলিশ কমিশনার মোহা. শফিকুল ইসলাম।

দুই দশক পর আফগান তালেবানের রাষ্ট্রক্ষমতা নিয়ন্ত্রণে নেওয়ার পরদিন সোমবার এক সংবাদ সম্মেলনে তিনি বলেন, “তালেবানরা রাষ্ট্রীয় ক্ষমতা নেওয়ার পরই ঘোষণা করবে, তারা পৃথিবীর সবচেয়ে শক্তিশালী রাষ্ট্র। তারা আরও বলবে, ‘আমেরিকাকে যুদ্ধে পরাজিত করে আফগানিস্তানকে স্বাধীন করেছি’।

“এর প্রেক্ষাপটে যুবকদের ভেতর (যারা জিহাদ করতে চায়) উৎসাহ তৈরি হবে। এই ঢেউ আমাদের উপমহাদেশসহ সব দেশেই লাগবে। বাংলাদেশে জঙ্গিদের যে উত্থান হচ্ছে, তা সবসময়ই আন্তর্জাতিক কোনো ঘটনার প্রেক্ষাপটের পরে উৎসাহ পাচ্ছে।”

এক সময় আফগানিস্তান ফেরত বাংলাদেশিরাই যে হরকাতুল জিহাদ (হুজি) ও জেএমবিসহ একাধিক জঙ্গি দল তৈরি করেছিল, তাও বলেন শফিকুল।

তিনি বলেন, ২০০৫ সালে দেশব্যাপী বোমা হামলার ঘটনার পরে জঙ্গি সংগঠনগুলোকে মোটামুটি ‘প্রায় নিয়ন্ত্রণে’ নিয়ে এসেছে পুলিশ।

এখন তালেবানের পুনরুত্থানের মধ্যে কিছু বাংলাদেশি তাদের দলে ভিড়তে আফগানিস্তান গেছে বলে সম্প্রতি জানিয়েছিলেন ডিএমপি কমিশনার।

তিনি সোমবার বলেন, “এসব নিয়ে দেশে যারা কাজ করে, তারা সতর্ক রয়েছে। আফগানিস্তান ফেরতরা যদি বাংলাদেশে ঢোকার চেষ্টা করে, তাদের গ্রেপ্তার করে আইনের আওতায় আনা হবে।”

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ফেসবুকে উগ্রবাদী গ্রুপ থেকে নেওয়া ঢাকা ট্রিবিউন

উগ্রপন্থীরা সারফেস ওয়েবকে ঝুঁকিপূর্ণ মনে করে, তাই তারা ধীরে ধীরে ডার্কনেট অ্যাক্সেসের দিকে ঝুঁকছে

চলতি বছরের ৭ আগস্ট “জিহাদে যোগ দেওয়ার ৪৪টি উপায়” শিরোনামের একটি ভিডিও সামাজিক যোগাযোগ মাধ্যমে আপলোড করা হয়েছিল। “ইবনে নুহাশ” নামে একটি নকল অ্যাকাউন্ট থেকে পোস্ট করা সাড়ে তিন মিনিটের ওই ভিডিওটি আরবি ভাষণ দিয়ে শুরু হয়েছিল, যেখানে পবিত্র কাবা এবং অশ্বারোহী যোদ্ধাদের দেখানো হয়েছিল যারা মরুভূমিতে যুদ্ধ করছে। এরপরেই ছিল খুতবার বাংলা ব্যাখ্যা।

মাত্র এক মাস আগে খোলা ওই প্রোফাইলের বেশিরভাগ বিষয়বস্তু, পাঠ্য বা অডিও-ভিজ্যুয়াল মূলত জিহাদ এবং যুদ্ধ প্রশিক্ষণের বিষয় নিয়ে। প্রোফাইলটির লিস্টে বন্ধুর সংখ্যা ১,৮৫৭।

ওই অ্যাকাউন্টের ব্যবহারকারী সম্প্রতি ৩০টি ইসলামিক বইয়ের একটি তালিকা পোস্ট করে। যার মধ্যে অনেক গণতন্ত্র ও গণতান্ত্রিক শাসকদের নিন্দা করা হয়েছে এবং কোনো কোনটির বিষয়বস্তু শুধুমাত্র “জিহাদ”।

“মোহাম্মদ বিন কাসিম” নামে আরেক ফেসবুক অ্যাকাউন্ট মানুষকে বিভ্রান্ত করার জন্য এবং তাদের উগ্র মতাদর্শের দিকে ঠেলে দেওয়ার জন্য নিয়মিত ছবি, ভিডিও এবং অন্যান্য বিষয়বস্তু পোস্ট করে। তার অনেক পোস্টেই সরাসরি “হাতে অস্ত্র তুলে নেওয়া” এবং “জিহাদের জন্য প্রস্তুত হওয়ার” আহ্বান জানানো হয়েছে।


তবে এসব কিছুই একটি বপরিকল্পনার সামান্য অংশ মাত্র।

এসব ব্যবহারকারী আইনশৃঙ্খলা রক্ষাকারী বাহিনীর চোখ এড়ানোর জন্য এবং নকল অ্যাকাউন্ট খোলার জন্য ভিপিএন এবং বিশেষ ব্রাউজার ব্যবহার করে। তাদের উদ্দেশ্য ফেসবুকের বন্ধুদের মধ্যে জিহাদি বিষয়বস্তু ছড়িয়ে দেওয়া।

দু’টি অ্যাকাউন্টই নকল কিন্তু তারা সফলভাবে আল কায়েদার মতাদর্শ প্রচার করে বেড়াচ্ছে। আল কায়েদা এবং ইসলামিক স্টেটের (আইএস) মতাদর্শ প্রচারের জন্য এই ধরনের প্রচুর আসল-নকল এবং দেশি-বিদেশি ফেসবুক অ্যাকাউন্ট বাংলাদেশিদের হাত দিয়ে পরিচালিত হচ্ছে।

যেহেতু ফেসবুক বাংলাদেশিদের মধ্যে অত্যন্ত জনপ্রিয় তাই এখনও চরমপন্থীরা এই প্ল্যাটফর্মটি ব্যবহার করে তাদের কর্মকাণ্ড পরিচালনার উপযুক্ত এলাকা বলে মনে করছে। যদিও ফেসবুকের তার প্ল্যাটফর্ম থেকে সব ধরনের উগ্র বিষয়বস্তু সরিয়ে নেওয়ার নীতি আছে।

এছাড়াও তরুণদের আকৃষ্ট করা ও জিহাদের প্রচারে অসংখ্য আইপি, ওয়েবসাইট, ফোরাম, ব্লগ এবং বার্তা চ্যানেল রয়েছে যা বাংলা বিষয়বস্তুতে পূর্ণ এবং যার মাধ্যমে বাংলাদেশে এবং অন্যত্র “আল্লাহর শাসন” প্রতিষ্ঠা করা যায়।

এসব চরমপন্থী গোষ্ঠীর নিজস্ব আইপি-ও (ইন্টারনেট প্রটোকল) আছে। উদাহরণস্বরূপ, যে আইপি ব্যবহার করে “গাজওয়াতুল হিন্দ” নামে একটি প্ল্যাটফর্ম চালানো হচ্ছে, সেটি সম্ভবত ধর্মীয়, মৌলবাদী এবং জিহাদি বিষয়বস্তুর সবচেয়ে বড় ভাণ্ডার।

সেখানে থাকা সব বিষয়বস্তু পড়ে শেষ করতে অন্তত কয়েক মাস সময় প্রয়োজন। 

প্রতিটি মৌলবাদী প্ল্যাটফর্মের মতো, গাজওয়াতুল হিন্দ শত শত অন্যান্য প্ল্যাটফর্মের সঙ্গে এসব লিঙ্ক শেয়ার করে। যা সক্রিয়ভাবে উগ্র মতাদর্শ প্রচার করে। এদের মধ্যে একটি হলো “মুওয়াহদিদুন” নামে একটি ব্লগ, যেখানে অনলাইন জিহাদে যোগ দিতে ইচ্ছুকদের জন্য বিভিন্ন নির্দেশিকা শেয়ার করা হয়। সেখানে কীভাবে একাকি একজন মুজাহিদ হিসেবে কাজ করা সম্ভব তার নির্দেশনা দেওয়া হয়।

ফোরামে ৩২টি মিডিয়া প্ল্যাটফর্মের লিঙ্ক রয়েছে যা একটি আর্কাইভ সেকশনসহ বিভিন্ন মৌলবাদী এবং জিহাদি গোষ্ঠীর মাধ্যমে পরিচালিত।

আর্কাইভগুলোর রেকর্ডের মধ্যে, ২৪ জন বাংলাদেশির একটি তালিকা রয়েছে। যারা ’৮০-র দশকে সোভিয়েত সৈন্যদের সঙ্গে লড়াইয়ের সময় আফগানিস্তানে মারা গিয়েছিল। সেখানে একটি নোটে লেখা আছে, “যেসব বাংলাদেশি মার্কিন সেনাদের বিরুদ্ধে যুদ্ধ করেছেন এবং মারা গেছেন তাদের নাম শিগগিরই প্রকাশ করা হবে।”

alfirdaws.org-কে দেখলে একটি নিউজ সাইটের মতো মনে হয়। কিন্তু প্রকৃতপক্ষে এটি একটি মৌলবাদী সাইট যা এশিয়া, আফ্রিকা এবং মধ্যপ্রাচ্যে জিহাদি গোষ্ঠীর আক্রমণ এবং বিভিন্ন কার্যকলাপ সম্পর্কিত নিবন্ধ প্রকাশ করে থাকে।


তাদের সাম্প্রতিক নিবন্ধগুলোর মধ্যে একটিতে কীভাবে আল-শাবাবের মুজাহিদিন, পূর্ব আফ্রিকার আল-কায়েদা সমর্থিত জিহাদি গোষ্ঠী, উগান্ডার সৈন্যদের সঙ্গে যুদ্ধরত এলাকা দখল করে তার বর্ণনা দেওয়া আছে।

২০১৯ সালের মাঝামাঝি সময়ে আইসল্যান্ড থেকে চালু করা এই সাইটটি বিভিন্ন দেশে বসবাসকারী বাংলাদেশিদের একটি গোষ্ঠীর মাধ্যমে পরিচালিত হচ্ছে। দেশেও তাদের উল্লেখযোগ্য সংখ্যক পাঠক রয়েছে।

এই প্ল্যাটফর্মগুলোর অধিকাংশই পরস্পর সংযুক্ত, একে অপরের বিষয়বস্তু শেয়ার করে এবং নেটওয়ার্ক সম্প্রসারণের জন্য নিজেদের কার্যক্রম প্রচার করে। এদের মধ্যে কেউ প্রকাশ্যে সব শেয়ার করে আবার কেউ গোপনে।

গত কয়েক মাস ধরে ঢাকা ট্রিবিউন এ ধরনের প্রায় এক ডজন মৌলবাদী প্ল্যাটফর্মের ওপর গবেষণা করে জেনেছে, এই প্ল্যাটফর্মগুলো খুবই সক্রিয় এবং ঘন ঘন বাংলা কন্টেন্ট আপলোড করে। এর মধ্যে এমন কিছু বিষয় রয়েছে যা বর্তমান সরকার এবং আইন প্রয়োগকারী সংস্থাকে তাঘুত (ইসলামি পরিভাষায় যা ঈশ্বর ব্যতীত অন্য উপাসনাকে নির্দেশ করে) এবং ইসলামপ্রেমীদের বিরুদ্ধে যাওয়ার জন্য তাদের সমালোচনা করে লেখা প্রকাশ করে। কিছু বিষয়বস্তু স্পষ্টভাবে সরকারকে ক্ষমতাচ্যুত করে “ইসলামি শাসন কায়েমের” ইঙ্গিত দেয়।

২০১২ সাল থেকে র‍্যাডিক্যাল নেটওয়ার্ক ট্র্যাকিং করা সাইবার নিরাপত্তা বিশ্লেষক তানভীর হাসান জোহা বলেন, “এই মহামারির সময়েও শত শত প্ল্যাটফর্ম তৈরি হয়েছে যেগুলো নতুন প্রজন্মের চরমপন্থীদের জন্ম দিয়েছে।”


অপ্রতুল পর্যবেক্ষণ ও অপপ্রচার মোকাবিলায় কোনো অফিসিয়াল প্ল্যাটফর্ম নেই


আইন-শৃঙ্খলা রক্ষাকারী বাহিনী অনলাইনে মৌলবাদী কার্যকলাপের বিশাল সংখ্যার ওপর সহজে নজর রাখতে পারে না এবং তাদের সংখ্যাও কমাতে পারছে না। আশ্চর্যের বিষয় হলো, কোনো সরকারি সংস্থার মাধ্যমে মৌলবাদী প্ল্যাটফর্ম এবং তাদের উগ্রবাদী এবং জিহাদি কার্যকলাপ মোকাবিলা করার মতো প্ল্যাটফর্ম নেই।

চরমপন্থীদের মোকাবিলায় নিবেদিত অনলাইন প্ল্যাটফর্মগুলো বহু বছর ধরে আলোচনায় রয়েছে কিন্তু কাউন্টার টেরোরিজম অ্যান্ড ট্রান্সন্যাশনাল ক্রাইম (সিটিটিসি) কর্মকর্তা আবদুল মান্নান বলেন, “একটি প্ল্যাটফর্ম বন্ধ করা হলে আরও অনেকগুলো মাথা চাড়া দিয়ে ওঠে।”

তিনি বলেন, “আমরা প্ল্যাটফর্মগুলো ট্র্যাক করে শাটডাউন করি কিন্তু আসল কথা হলো মৌলবাদীরা দীর্ঘদিন এক প্ল্যাটফর্মে থাকে না। তারা নতুন নতুন প্ল্যাটফর্ম খুলে সেখানে চলে যায়।

আরেকজন সিটিটিসি কর্মকর্তা বলেন, “ডিজিটালভাবে মৌলবাদীদের বিরুদ্ধে লড়াইয়ের জন্য আমাদের বেশ কয়েকটি শক্তিশালী ওয়েবসাইট এবং ফেসবুক পেজ থাকা উচিত। তা-না হলে শক্তিশালী হওয়ার জন্য মৌলবাদীরা নতুন সদস্যদের যুক্ত করতেই থাকবে।”

উগ্রপন্থীরা ডার্কনেট ব্যবহার করে

আইটি ফার্ম ব্যাকডোর প্রাইভেট লিমিটেডের ব্যবস্থাপনা পরিচালক তানভীর হাসান জোহা বলেন, “বছরের পর বছর ধরে যেসব নিদর্শন লক্ষ্য করা গেছে তার মধ্যে রয়েছে জঙ্গিরা নতুন প্রযুক্তি এবং সামাজিক মিডিয়া প্ল্যাটফর্মে সফলভাবে অভিযোজিত হয়ে বৃহৎ পরিসরে দর্শকদের কাছে পৌঁছায়।”

গত বছর “হিযবুত তাহরির” একটি অনলাইন সেমিনারের আয়োজন করেছিল এবং তাদের ঘোষণার পোস্টারে নিষিদ্ধ এই সংগঠনটি “ডার্ক ওয়েব লিংক” ব্যবহার করে লোকজনকে লাইভ প্রোগ্রামে যোগ দেওয়ার আহ্বান করেছিল।

জোহা বলেন, “উগ্রপন্থীরা এখন সারফেস ওয়েবকে ঝুঁকিপূর্ণ মনে করে। তাই তারা ধীরে ধীরে ডার্কনেট অ্যাক্সেসের দিকে ঝুঁকছে। অনেক বৈশ্বিক এবং আঞ্চলিক জিহাদি গোষ্ঠীই ইতোমধ্যে কয়েক বছর ধরে ডার্ক ওয়েবে ব্যবহার করছে। তাই এসব সন্ত্রাসবাদের বাস্তব চিত্র জানার জন্য আমাদের ডার্কনেটে চরমপন্থী গোষ্ঠীগুলোকে ট্র্যাক করতে হবে।


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Role of Counter-terror and domestic intelligence oversight will take a far more pivotal role in Bangladesh's future defense policy.

Given Bangladesh's already strong oversight on fringe groups. There's no doubt, counter-terrorism might take a whole new dimension altogether in this decade.   

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How worried should Bangladesh be about Taliban seizure of Afghanistan?

Published:  August 18, 2021 11:48:53

Militancy in Bangladesh has stemmed from the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, but the police do not think a resurgence of the hardline Islamist group will pose much of a threat now.

Reports of some Bangladeshis travelling to Afghanistan to join the Taliban ranks have caused concerns among security analysts, but Md Asaduzzaman, chief of the police’s Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime or CTTC, is not perturbed.  

For now, he is happy to take the Taliban promise of not letting anyone use Afghanistan for terrorism in other countries at face value. He also says reports of Bangladeshis joining the group are not confirmed.

Asaduzzaman, however, admits that supporters of the Taliban could well exist in Bangladesh. “But I don’t think they'll be able to carry out acts of violence. We're alert and ready to tackle any challenge.”

Bangladeshis who had travelled to Afghanistan in the 70s and 80s to fight for the Afghans against the then Soviet Union later formed militant groups, such as Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami or HuJIB and Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh or JMB, reports bdnews24.com. 

The Taliban captured power in 1996 amid a civil war after the Soviets left Afghanistan. The militant group was ousted by the US-led campaign in 2001. The US started the war after the Twin Tower attack, which was blamed on al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden who were harboured by the Taliban.

Now the Taliban are back after the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan.

After the rise of the radical group Islamic State in the Middle East, Syria and Iraq became the destination for Bangladeshi extremists. Following the fall of ISIS, reports are emerging that Bangladeshi hardline Islamists were travelling to Afghanistan again.

Shafiqul Islam, commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, recently said “some” Bangladeshis were trying to travel to Afghanistan and some of them have been arrested in India.

CTTC chief Asaduzzaman doubts whether the Bangladeshis could reach Afghanistan.

“They've gone missing. There's no confirmation that they reached their destination. But they inspired their associates.”

Asaduzzaman claimed no foreigners, including Bangladeshis, fought for the Taliban. “One or two may have tried, but they could not reach Afghanistan.”

“And the Taliban have made it clear that they don’t have overseas units and links to foreign organisations.”

Former army officer M Shakhawat Hossain also believes the Taliban do not invite foreigners. “It needs to be clear that the Taliban are a group of pure Pashtu-speaking Afghans. Some from their borders with Pakistan may have joined the group, but they speak Pashtu.”

“The Bangladeshis and other foreigners who travelled to Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet war in the 80s were led by Osama bin Laden. Osama and the Taliban are not the same.”

The reports of Bangladeshis travelling to Afghanistan are still “alarming”, said Shakhawat. “It can be said that the foreign jihadists are going to Afghanistan to join IS or other groups, not the Taliban.”

Shafqat Munir, head of Bangladesh Centre for Terrorism Research and a research fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies, says the Taliban assurance of not allowing foreign fighters in Afghanistan needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

“Other militant groups, such as ISIS Khorasan, exist in Afghanistan. And there's a possibility of an al-Qaeda resurgence. Although there's not much data available on this, we can say by analysing the sequence of events that young people can go there to join other militant groups in Afghanistan, especially those affiliated with al-Qaeda,” he explained.

DMP chief Shafiqul also appeared to be concerned over the resurgence of the Taliban because this development can inspire the radicals in Bangladesh. “This wave will reach all the countries of the sub-continent.”

CTTC chief Asaduzzaman did acknowledge that some Bangladeshis were celebrating the Taliban’s seizure of Afghanistan on social media. “But it doesn’t mean they have the capacity to do something.”

“And the call to travel to Afghanistan is drawing little response because the people of Bangladesh never like militancy.”

“We're also aware of the issue. We've cyber-patrols who can identify them (who are supporting the Taliban on social media). Those who have uploaded such posts are kept under watch round the clock.”

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Ansar al-Islam lives on, clinging to Jihadism imported by HujiB from Afghanistan 30 years ago

 M Abul Kalam Azad

 Published at 11:20 pm August 19th, 2021

Remnants of HujiB still exist but the possibility of the group regaining its past prowess is highly unlikely; Ansar al-Islam is now the biggest threat

A week after the Islamic State (IS) gunmen had stormed Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1, 2016, brutally killing 17 foreigners and several locals, two top leaders of the al-Qaeda-backed Ansar al-Islam sat for an analysis of the organizational and operational capacities of the two ferocious militant groups in Bangladesh at the time.

Identifying themselves as Abdullah Al Bangladeshi and Abu Arabi Al Hind (pseudonyms or organizational names), they explained why ISIS’s shortcut strategy for establishing a caliphate would fail but al-Qaeda’s (AQ) long-term vision to mobilize Muslims around the world to form an Islamic order would be sustained.

Soon an audio clip of their 40-minute discussion spread through the Tawhid Media run by Ansar al-Islam.

“Unlike ISIS, AQ works silently and lets people know only when it deems necessary,” one speaker said, explaining: “Although ISIS was trying to be a competitor of AQ in Bangladesh, the new group lagged behind in terms of organizational strength. AQ will sustain in long-term warfare, not ISIS.”

The other added: “AQ has the ability to carry out an ISIS-style attack at Holey Artisan Bakery, can take over any important building in the country by sending two of our militants, but it will not do that just to show its strength or prove its ability. AQ will wait for the appropriate time for such a high-profile operation.”

Today, Ansar al-Islam, not ISIS, remains the bigger threat for Bangladesh. 

Organized under the leadership of sacked army major Syed Ziaul Haque, widely known as Major Zia, Ansar al-Islam may bare its fangs in the future, investigators predict.

Ansar al-Islam holds the ideology held by Harkat ul-Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh (HujiB) — establishing Islamic rule in Bangladesh through armed struggle, a philosophy nurtured by al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

After the formation of HujiB in 1992 with an objective primarily to empower Rohingyas to stand against the Myanmar army, it later shifted its focus to Bangladesh.

Starting with the assassination attempt on poet Shamsur Rahman at his Shyamoli residence on January 18, 1999, HujiB has carried out many horrific attacks, including the August 21 grenade attacks on an Awami League rally in 2004.

Although the law enforcement agencies every year arrest a few suspected HujiB operatives who were reportedly trying to regroup, it is widely learnt that the possibility of the group regaining its past influence is highly unlikely.

However, there are some other homegrown radical groups which may carry the banner of Jihad on behalf of HujiB, Ansar al-Islam being the one that possesses such organizational ability.

In the five years since the Holey Artisan attack, particularly amid the Covid pandemic, Ansar al-Islam exclusively focused on new recruits, strengthening the group and its operational capacity with combat training to strike again at a suitable time.

Formation, functioning of HujiB

HujiB started functioning secretly in Bangladesh about two years after al-Qaeda was founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden and some other Arab volunteers during the Afghan-Soviet war. That year, a delegation of 10 self-proclaimed ulamas or Islamic scholars from Bangladesh had gone to Afghanistan.

Shafiqur Rahman, one of the war veterans, maintained close contact with Huji leaders for a formal launching of the group’s Bangladesh chapter. However, it is learnt that Maulana Abdur Rahman Faruki, another Afghan war veteran, began clandestine HujiB operations in 1989 but died in a mine explosion in Khorasan on May 10 of the same year.

HujiB formally began its journey on April 30, 1992, when some Afghan war veterans at a press conference at the National Press Club identified themselves as members of Huji Bangladesh. The formation came a week after Afghan Mujahideen had seized Kabul. The Afghan returnees present at the press briefing expressed delight over the victory.

The following day, HujiB members brought out a procession from Baitul Mukarram Mosque, chanting slogans in support of Afghan Mujahideen and the Taliban. For the first four or five years, it was based in the southeastern hilly areas close to Myanmar, apparently with the objective of helping Rohingyas in their resistance to the Myanmar military.

In February 1996, during the political chaos in Bangladesh around the holding of parliamentary elections, 43 HujiB leaders and activists were arrested from a training camp in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar. They had come there from across the country for Afghan-style combat training. After that, HujiB spread out in the southern and northern parts of the country and shifted its objective from helping Rohingyas to Jihad.

Since HujiB members were experienced in war and had expertise in handling explosives, they thought it would not be hard for them to go ahead with their new mission in Bangladesh.

Beginning of terror attacks

The HujiB leadership took seven years to launch terror attacks in the country. 

In January 1999, a group of young HujiB operatives tried to behead Poet Shamsur Rahman, an outspoken opponent against religious fundamentalism, at his Shyamoli residence. He was unharmed but his wife was injured.

Neighbours caught the attackers, who identified themselves as HujiB members. 

Barely two months after the assassination attempt on the poet, HujiB carried out its first successful operation in Jessore, blasting powerful bombs at a cultural function of Udichi Shilpi Goshthi, killing 10 people and injuring 100 others in the process.

This is how the Bangladeshis who had travelled to Afghanistan during the 1980s to fight alongside foreign Mujahideen from different countries against the Soviet army brought Jihad to Bangladesh.

HujiB carried out some deadly grenade attacks after the BNP-Jamaat coalition government came to power in 2001, including the killing of former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria and the attack on former British high commissioner in Bangladesh Anwar Choudhury.

But the grenade attack on August 21, 2004 was the deadliest of all. Several grenades were hurled into an Awami League rally at Bangabandhu Avenue in an attempt to assassinate then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina. She escaped with injuries but 24 others were killed.

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Promoting child marriage and jihad by gathering, arrested 17

Tribune desk Published at 10:16 PM August 23, 2021



16 arrested for child marriage and jihadi propaganda in Kishoreganj

During this time, banners, various leaflets of extremist fundamentalism and jihadi books were recovered from them

Police have arrested 16 people in Mithamin upazila of Kishoreganj on charges of inciting child marriage and jihad.

Police said they were detained during a rally in front of the Upazila Sadar post bungalow on Sunday (August 22nd) afternoon.

According to the report of Bangla Tribune, banners, various leaflets of extremist fundamentalism and jihadi books were recovered from them at that time.

The arrested persons are- Nikli Md. Anisur Rahman (43), Md. Mujibur Rahman (50), Azharul Islam (23), Md. Islam Uddin (41), Md. Raich Uddin (60), Md. Harun Aur Rashid (35), Md. Abdur Rashid (40), Md. Saidur Rahman (52), Abdus Sattar (52),  Abdus Sattar (52), Md. Abdul Hasim (52), Md. Ashraf Ali (61), Md. Mojibur Rahman (52), Mizanur Rahman Khan (55) of Katiadi, Mohiuddin (32) of Ashtagram, Omar Farooq (26) of Kishoreganj Sadar, Jamal Uddin (40) and Imran Hossain (29) of Belabo upazila of Narsingdi.

Sub-Inspector (SI) of Mithamin Police Station Nazrul Islam has filed a case under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

According to police sources, at a rally on Sunday afternoon, men and women presented fabricated information about the age of marriage by misinterpreting the Qur'an and Hadith. They also spoke against the government law in this regard.

Upon receiving the news, the police went to the spot and arrested them.

Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Mithamin Police Station Zakir Rabbani told the Bengali Tribune that their leaflets contained material to incite them to various jihadi activities, including child marriage, which is a legal offense.  Initially, it was thought that the arrested persons were members of various extremist organizations.

Kishoreganj District Superintendent of Police (SP) said. Mashrukur Rahman Khaled said that when they were sent to Kishoreganj court on Monday afternoon, the judge ordered them to be sent to jail. They are investigating whether they are members of a banned organization.






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Bangladesh: Islamists emboldened by Taliban win in Afghanistan

Islamic fundamentalists in Bangladesh have taken to social media to embrace the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. Experts say Dhaka should be cautious but not overly concerned.


"Go ahead (Taliban), the future world is waiting for you to lead it," S. Islam, a user from the northeastern Bangladeshi city of Sylhet, wrote on the DW Bengali service's Facebook page.   

A. Shek, another Facebook user from the district of Sirajganj, considers the Taliban's takeover of Kabul "a victory of Islam." "I'm so happy to see the victory of Islam before my death. I was never that happy before in my entire life," he wrote. 

Thousands of users have been incessantly posting comments on social media to praise the Islamic fundamentalist group's victory and denounce Western media outlets "for propagating" against it.

Radicals ready to join Taliban

Earlier this year, police in the capital, Dhaka, arrested at least four suspected Islamists who wanted to travel to Afghanistan via India and Pakistan to join the Taliban.

They were part of a group of 10 people who were searching for ways to become members of the fundamentalist group. Two of them have reportedly already been able to join the Taliban.

"We have got a lot of information from the arrested persons. But it's not yet clear how many Islamists have moved from Bangladesh to Afghanistan to join the Taliban fighters," Asaduzzaman Khan, the chief of the counterterrorism unit of Dhaka police, told DW.

Meanwhile, Indian newspapers have reported that the country's border security force is on alert along the India-Bangladesh border after the police chief of Dhaka claimed that several radical Bangladeshi youths were attempting to sneak into India to make their way to join the Taliban in Afghanistan.

How worried should Bangladesh be?

Islamic fundamentalists who had traveled from Bangladesh to Afghanistan in the 1970s and 80s to fight alongside the Afghans against the then Soviet Union later returned home and formed militant groups including Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (HuJIB) and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

For years, such groups have actively tried to destabilize the country by carrying out terror attacks.

Still, experts say that Bangladesh need not worry any more than other South Asian countries following the new developments in Afghanistan.

"The regional impact of the Taliban rule will depend on how they behave and whether they backtrack from their promise not to let any terrorist organization use Afghanistan as its base," Ali Riaz, a political science professor at Illinois State University, told DW.

"Whether conflict ensues will also be a determining factor," he said, adding: "Bangladesh should be cautious, but neither should it be overly concerned nor use this as a pretext to clamp down on legitimate detractors of the government, falsely accusing them as Taliban sympathizers."

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, echoed this opinion.

"Bangladesh's problems with Islamist militancy aren't as serious as they are in Pakistan, but given the presence of some groups, local and foreign, in the country, there should be some reason for concern," he told DW.

"The good news is that the Taliban themselves have no interest in stoking regional terrorism. Their concerns and interests are Afghanistan-focused," he said, adding: "So, it's not like the Taliban will encourage militants to carry out attacks outside Afghanistan. The problem is that militants will be inspired themselves to do so."

Bangladesh's 'iron fist' approach could backfire

Bangladeshi police haven't disclosed any information on how many fundamentalists they have kept under surveillance, but they have acknowledged identifying networks that have in the past lured youths into joining the Taliban.

"We monitor the cyber world regularly and take action when we find someone who has been trying to become a militant," Dhaka police chief Shafiqul Islam told DW.

"We initially try to stop the person by informing their family about their intention to become a militant. If nothing works, we arrest the person to stop them from being radicalized," he added.

Experts argue that while Bangladeshi police's "iron fist" approach to curbing militancy had gained some initial success, it could backfire in the long run.  

"Bangladesh's government has taken an iron fist approach to militancy. It's cracked down on everyone, including innocents who had nothing to do with militancy," Kugelman said.  

"So Dhaka's counterterrorism achievements may be Pyrrhic victories: They killed terrorists and degraded their capacities, but they also may have laid the groundwork for future radicalizations of non-militant Islamists that resent how they've been treated by the state," he said.

Professor Riaz also says Dhaka's actions against militants have paid off only in the short run, by weakening terror groups like al-Qaeda and the "Islamic State" in the country.

"But militancy does not grow in a vacuum; there are factors which allow it to thrive," he said, adding: "On that count, the situation has not improved in Bangladesh. I am afraid that violent extremism has gained more support and sympathy within society than ever before."

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Militants threaten to kill tribunal judge in Tangail

They also threatened to kill her relative who is working in the process server of the court, if they fail to kill her


A militant group has sent a letter threatening to kill Khaleda Yasmin, a judge of the Tangail Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal.

They also threatened to kill her relative who is working in the process server of the court, if they fail to kill her.

According to court sources, the letter came to Judge Khaleda Yasmin in an envelope on Thursday from one Jubayer Rahman.

"You (Khaleda) have given verdicts in many big cases since you came to the Women and Children's Court. It has caused a great loss to our people. So, for the sake of Allah, if you love your life, then get yourself transferred from Tangail. If you don't listen, we will kill you," the letter read.

The letter also claimed that some lawyers and staffs of the court are cooperating with the unnamed militant outfit.

Judge Khaleda Yasmin, said she and her family are in a state of panic after receiving the letter.

Tangail Superintendent of Police, Sanjit Kumar Roy said the law enforcers have been informed about the letter. "They are scrutinizing the matter seriously while security of Judge Khaleda Yasmin and her family has been strengthened," he said.

Tangail RAB-12 Company Commander, Lt Abdullah Al Mamun said RAB men are working on the issue seriously.

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Home Minister: No Taliban, militants in Bangladesh


 Published at 07:12 pm August 28th, 2021

‘There are many small notorious groups in the country. But they have no capacity to create chaos,’ says Home Minister Asaduzzaman Kamal

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has said that there is no existence of Taliban and militants in Bangladesh.

“Some miscreants are appearing in different names to create anarchy in the country,” he told reporters after inaugurating a supermarket, “One Hundred Ali,” at Baishmile area of Savar on Saturday.

“There are many small notorious groups in the country. But they have no capacity to create chaos,” the minister said.

“Bangladesh is a country of peace. Taliban have come to power in Afghanistan and Kabul is located far from Bangladesh. So it has no effect in Bangladesh,” he added. 

Among others, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman, Savar Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Md Mazharul Islam, Dhaka District Swechchhasebak League President Haji Imtiaz, President Pathalia Union Awami League Faizal Haque and General Secretary Moazzem Hossain were present in the function.

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Bhaskar Chakravorti;m Foreign Policy

28 August, 2021, 11:30 am

Last modified: 28 August, 2021, 11:46 am

Facebook’s taliban ban will prove costly for Afghans

The tech giant is on the wrong side of history yet again



Bhaskar Chakravorti. Illustration: TBS

As the Afghan state collapsed, the international community headed for the exits, and hundreds of thousands of Afghans were struggling to follow, social media remained on the ground as the only reliable eyes and ears on the unfolding calamity. But even those eyes and ears may be at risk of being lost. Citing its stance on "dangerous individuals and organisations," Facebook reaffirmed its ban on the Taliban and pro-Taliban content on Aug. 17. After being on the wrong side of history so many times for spreading misinformation and propaganda, the beleaguered tech company seems eager to nip another reputational risk right in the bud.

I fear Facebook will end up on the wrong side of history yet again. Notwithstanding the Taliban's record of violence and oppression and likely brutal rule, deplatforming the group may make a monumental failure of US intelligence and nation-building even worse. For several reasons, it is ill-advised.

For one, Facebook's ban is half-hearted and full of leaks. Pro-Taliban users can still freely use WhatsApp, the wildly popular Facebook-owned messaging app. This is because the app is end-to-end encrypted, which means its content cannot be monitored by Facebook's observers. While it is true that Facebook has blocked official Taliban WhatsApp accounts, such tactics have also had unintended consequences: For example, a WhatsApp hotline set up by the Taliban for Afghan citizens to report violent incidents and looting also got shut down.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of being kicked off the Facebook platform itself, pro-Taliban users put into action time-tested bypass techniques used by such groups as Hezbollah, the Islamic State, and Mexican drug cartels. These techniques include changing hashtag spellings to evade detection and posting the same content in multiple accounts with the expectation that some will make it through Facebook's leaky filter even if others are shut down. As a result of these and other techniques, one-third of 68 US-designated terrorist groups or their leaders have an official presence on Facebook—despite bans imposed by the company.

Today's Taliban are not the pre-2001 Taliban that banned movies, music, and the internet; the Taliban 2.0 are a media-savvy organisation. Like the Islamic State before them, they have mastered the art of the viral video. To gather even more followers, they have captured popular hashtags by inundating them with messages. Followership of pro-Taliban accounts has already spiked since the Taliban takeover. Even in the unlikely event that Facebook's wall proves to be impenetrable, the Taliban are not without options. Other platforms, such as Telegram and Twitter, are still available for use. The Taliban's propaganda machine, in other words, is far from being silenced.

Now, consider another issue. The presumptive head of the new government, Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, is in the same boat as former US President Donald Trump. Neither can post on Facebook—never mind that they were both principals to the so-called "peace deal" reached in Doha in 2020, which ultimately resulted in this month's US withdrawal. But this is where the similarities end. Baradar is the presumptive head of a government, while Trump is just a private citizen (albeit one who still gets a disproportionate amount of attention). Blocking access to an administration running a country or its leader, no matter how awful, is different from blocking an insurgency group or a terrible former president. It's a valid question: Doesn't the official leader of a country deserve to have a presence on Facebook?

If Baradar is kept off Facebook, the Afghan people could pay the price for the ban. He could very easily say, "If I can't use Facebook, neither can anyone else." If he has no way to tell his side of the story, why should he allow ordinary Afghans, let alone dissidents, post on Facebook about their misery under Taliban rule? The Taliban can use their power over the Afghan telecommunications system to block access to selected social media platforms or even the internet as a whole. The Taliban could institute its own ban, and it wouldn't be unique. Just ask the governments of China, North Korea, Iran, Vietnam, Turkey, or Bangladesh for instructions on how to turn off Facebook in a country.

A general blackout of major social media platforms or the internet would add to the Afghan tragedy. Today, independent sources of information—journalists, international organisations, relief agencies, and other nongovernmental organisations—are taking flight. The primary sources of information are now ordinary people, on the ground, armed with their smartphones and posting videos of their desperation on social media. We could therefore be looking at a news and intelligence blackout of the country. But it gets worse: Afghanistan is bordered by countries crucial to US national security, such as Iran, Pakistan, and China. A blackout in Afghanistan could lead to a wider intelligence blackout, given its location in the heart of one of the world's most volatile regions.

Moreover, functioning social media is essential for civil resistance and for groups seeking to organise grassroots institutions, local relief, and humanitarian aid from the bottom up. For Afghan women, in particular, social media—even if used anonymously—may remain the only means of connection, expression, and personal and professional growth as their rights are severely curtailed by the new regime. Facebook is a particularly important platform across Afghanistan. Roshan, the country's largest telecom company, offers special low-cost data plans with Facebook already bundled in. Facebook is also taking steps to protect the security of its Afghan users by hiding their friends lists on their pages on the platform. It ought to pay attention to ensuring that its other policies—such as the Taliban ban—don't end up putting the pages themselves out of reach.

There's no doubt that Facebook is in a bind. There is a risk associated with giving the incoming regime tools to project extremist and dehumanising propaganda, misinformation, and intimidation. The costs of the Taliban's digital power can thus be very high. Sadly, the costs of stifling the voices of everyone else across the country may be even higher.

If in light of all these considerations, Facebook makes the difficult but ultimately right choice of lifting the ban on the Taliban, the company must then do the hard work of monitoring pro-Taliban posts and pages, tracking the content, and recognising evolving narratives. It must take responsibility and block, deprioritise, and suspend based on a thorough analysis of content, weeding out content that violates community standards, peddles misinformation, propagates violence, or advocates for suppression of human rights. Given the rudimentary state of Facebook's automated content monitoring—which often blocks harmless content while being oblivious to the latest extremist narratives—this will require large numbers of well-trained human editors, which the company has been at pains to avoid so far. But investment in such monitoring is more essential than ever, most immediately in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, given its impact on the humanitarian situation and intelligence gathering, Facebook needs to coordinate its actions with the US government and the international organisations that are still engaging with Afghanistan. This means that the company, like other social media companies, cannot operate independently and needs to be part of a larger effort. The bottom line: It would be irresponsible for Facebook executives to take the easy way out by just banning the Taliban and thinking they have washed their hands of the problem.

This would also be a good occasion to reflect on Facebook's organisational structures and internal checks and balances. The tech giant's leadership should have learned its lesson from a recent similar case of banning a new regime. After Myanmar's military coup in February, Facebook said it would reduce distribution of content from the military, subsequently going further and banning all military-related entities, including ads from military-linked businesses. But these bans were blunt instruments. Facebook's blind algorithms began promoting pro-military propaganda from other accounts, according to a report from the human rights group Global Witness.

Whatever steps Facebook takes in Afghanistan, it should make sure that its technology does not displace human judgment. Its own left hand must track what its right one is doing, even as Facebook joins hands with the larger international community to not get things wrong yet again in Afghanistan. To the Afghan people now left to their fate under the Taliban, we owe at least this much.

Bhaskar Chakravorti is the dean of global business at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He is the founding executive director of Fletcher's Institute for Business in the Global Context, where he established and chairs the Digital Planet research programme.

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TBS Report

29 August, 2021, 01:10 pm

Last modified: 29 August, 2021, 01:11 pm

First female ‘militant’ of Ansar al Islam captured in capital


For the first time, the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) arrested a female member of Islamist militant outfit Ansar al Islam from the Badda area in the capital.

The arrestee is Jubaida Siddiqa Nabila, an HSC examinee hailing from Bhola.

She was tracked through Titumir Media, an extremist outlet active on Telegram. CTTC team arrested her on Thursday and interrogated about her activities.

According to CTTC chief ADC Md Asaduzzaman, Nabila used multiple fake IDs on Facebook and Chirpwire to spread extremism while sharing photos and videos related to Ansar al Islam's operation on four Telegram channels.

"She had first come into contact with Ansar al Islam in 2020 and later joined Titumir Media through Facebook," Asaduzzaman said.

Nabila's ultimate goal was to join Jihad (war against infidels) and help establish Shariah law in the country, he added. Prior to the arrest, her activities through fake IDs were monitored for 2-4 months.

During the raid at her residence, the CTTC team seized multiple SIM cards and memory cards containing extremist materials.

A case has been filed in this regard. 

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আনসার আল ইসলামের ‘প্রথম নারী জঙ্গি’ গ্রেপ্তার

 এফই ডেস্ক | Published:  August 29, 2021 15:19:34 | Updated:  August 29, 2021 17:40:38


নিষিদ্ধ ঘোষিত জঙ্গি সংগঠন আনসার আল ইসলামের এক নারী সদস্যকে গ্রেপ্তার করেছে ঢাকা মহানগর পুলিশের কাউন্টার টেরোরিজম অ্যান্ড ট্রান্সন্যাশনাল ক্রাইম ইউনিট (সিটিটিসি)।

গ্রেপ্তার জোবাইদা সিদ্দিকা নাবিলার এবার উচ্চ মাধ্যমিক পরীক্ষা দেওয়ার কথা ছিল। বৃহস্পতিবার রাজধানীর বাড্ডা এলাকায় অভিযান চালিয়ে তাকে গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়। খবর বিডিনিউজ টোয়েন্টিফোর ডটকমের।

এ সময় তার কাছ থেকে সিমকার্ড ও মেমোরিকার্ডসহ একটি মোবাইল ফোন জব্দ করা হয় বলে সিটিটিসির প্রধান অতিরিক্ত পুলিশ কমিশনার মো. আসাদুজ্জামান জানান।

সিটিটিসির দাবি, এই প্রথম আনসার আল ইসলামের কোনো নারী সদস্যকে গ্রেপ্তার করা হল। এর আগে অন্যান্য জঙ্গি সংগঠনের নারী সদস্য গ্রেপ্তার হলেও তারা নাবিলার মতো ‘প্রশিক্ষিত’ ছিলেন না।

রোববার ঢাকা মহানগর পুলিশের মিডিয়া সেন্টারে এক সংবাদ সম্মেলনে আসাদুজ্জামান বলেন, আনসার আল ইসলামের মিডিয়া শাখায়. অর্থাৎ ‘জঙ্গিবাদের প্রচার প্রচারণার’ দায়িত্ব পালন করতেন নাবিলা। তবে সামরিক শাখার সঙ্গেও তার ‘যোগাযোগ ছিল’।

“প্রাথমিক জিজ্ঞাসাবাদে নাবিলা জানায়, সে ২০২০ সালের প্রথম দিকে নিজের নাম পরিচয় গোপন করে ছদ্মনামে একটি ফেইসবুক অ্যাকাউন্ট খোলে। এক সময় সে ফেইসবুকে আনসার আল ইসলামের অফিসিয়াল ফেইসবুক পেইজ 'তিতুমীর মিডিয়া'র খোঁজ পায়। তখন সে ওই পেইজে যুক্ত হয়ে আনসার আল ইসলামের বিভিন্ন উগ্রবাদী ভিডিও, অডিও এবং আর্টিকেল সম্পর্কে ধারণা পায় এবং তাদের মতাদর্শ নিজের ভেতরে লালন করতে শুরু করে।

“তিতুমীর মিডিয়ার পেইজ অ্যাডমিনের সাথে তার যোগাযোগ হয়। পরে সেই পেইজ অ্যাডমিন তাকে উগ্রবাদী জিহাদী কন্টেন্টসহ আনসার আল ইসলামের অফিসিয়াল ওয়েবসাইটগুলোর লিংক দেয়।”

এভাবে ধীরে ধীরে ওই তরুণী আনসার আল ইসলামের মতাদর্শ ছড়িয়ে দেওয়ার কাজে যুক্ত হন। ফেইসবুক ও টেলিগ্রামসহ বিভিন্ন অনলাইন প্ল্যাটফর্মে ছদ্মনামে একাধিক অ্যাকাউন্ট খুলে তিনি কাজটি করতেন বলে কাউন্টার টেরোরিজম পুলিশের ভাষ্য। 

সিটিটিসি প্রধান বলেন, "সে আনসার আল ইসলামের মতাদর্শ প্রচারের জন্য ব্যাপকভাবে টেলিগ্রাম মাধ্যম ব্যবহার করত। টেলিগ্রামে তার চারটি অ্যাকাউন্ট এবং সেই টেলিগ্রাম একাউন্টের মাধ্যমে ১৫টির বেশি চ্যানেল সে চালাত। এসব চ্যানেলে সে আনসার আল ইসলামের বিভিন্ন উগ্রবাদী সহিংস ভিডিও, অডিও, ছবি ও ফাইল শেয়ার করত। তার সবগুলো টেলিগ্রাম চ্যানেল মিলে আনুমানিক ২৫ হাজার সাবস্ক্রাইবার আছেন, যারা নিয়মিত তার চ্যানেলগুলো অনুসরণ করেন।“

‘জিহাদ কেন প্রয়োজন', 'কিতাবুল জিহাদ', 'একাকি শিকারি লোন উলফ', 'স্লিপার সেলগুলোতে গোয়েন্দাদের অনুপ্রবেশ প্রতিরোধের উপায়',  'নীরবে হত্যার কৌশল', 'পুলিশ শরিয়তের শত্রু', 'আল আনসার ম্যাগাজিন ইস্যু', 'জিহাদের সাধারণ দিক নির্দেশনা', 'তাগুতের শাসন থেকে মুক্তির ঘোষণা' ইত্যাদি উগ্রবাদী বই বিভিন্ন সময়ে নাবিলার টেলিগ্রাম চ্যানেলগুলো থেকে প্রকাশ করা হত বলে সংবাদ সম্মেলনে জানানো হয়।

আসাদুজ্জামান বলেন, নাবিলা আনসার আল ইসলামের বিভিন্ন অফিসিয়াল ও আনঅফিসিয়াল চ্যানেলেও যুক্ত ছিলেন। সেসব চ্যানেলে আইইডি, স্মোক বম্ব, আগ্নেয়াস্ত্র তৈরি করা এবং বিভিন্ন হামলার কৌশলগত বিষয় নিয়ে ‘ভিডিও ও ফাইল শেয়ার করতেন’ তিনি।

“এসব প্রক্রিয়ার মাধ্যমেই নাবিলা জিহাদের ময়দানে অংশগ্রহণের জন্য নিজেকে মানসিকভাবে প্রস্তুত করে। এমনকি সম্প্রতি তার বিয়ের কথাবার্তা চললে সে ছেলেপক্ষকে জানায়, জিহাদের ময়দানে ডাক এলে সে সামনের সারিতে থাকবে। এমনকি শহীদি মৃত্যু এলেও সে পিছু হটবে না। ছেলেও যদি এমন মতাদর্শের না হয়, সে বিয়ে করবে না বলে জানিয়ে দেয়।”

তাকে ছাড়া আনসার আল ইসলামের আর কোনো নারী সদস্যের সন্ধান পাওয়া গেছে কিনা জানতে চাইলে আসাদুজ্জামান বলেন, "এ বিষয়ে তাকে আমরা জিজ্ঞাসাবাদ করছি। সে আনসার আল ইসলামের যে গ্রুপের সঙ্গে সংশ্লিষ্ট ছিল, সেইসব লোকজনের নাম আমরা জানার চেষ্টা করছি। তবে এই মুহূর্তে এই বিষয়ে বিস্তারিত আমরা বলতে চাইছি না।"

নাবিলার টেলিগ্রাম চ্যানেলের সাবস্ক্রাইবারদের মধ্যে কোনো নারী আছেন কিনা- এমন প্রশ্নের জবাবে সিটিটিসি প্রধান বলেন, "সাবস্ক্রাইবার কোনো নারী থাকতে পারে। আমরা মূলত তরুণদেরকে টার্গেট করে এ বিষয়ে অনুসন্ধান করছি। সে কণ্ঠের মাধ্যমে নারী-পুরুষ সকলকে জঙ্গিবাদে উদ্বুদ্ধ করার চেষ্টা করত।"

তার জঙ্গিবাদে জড়ানোর ক্ষেত্রে পরিবারের ভূমিকা কী ছিল জানতে চাইলে অতিরিক্ত পুলিশ কমিশনার মো. আসাদুজ্জামান বলেন, "পরিবার চেষ্টা করেছিল তাকে জঙ্গিবাদ থেকে দূরে সরিয়ে আনতে। কিন্তু পারেনি। পরিবারের অমতে তিনি এক আত্মীয়র বাড়িতে বেড়ানোর কথা বলে বেরিয়ে পড়েন।"

নাবিলার বিরুদ্ধে বাড্ডা থানায় একটি মামলা হয়েছে। আদালতে হাজির করে ৫ দিনের রিমান্ডে নিয়ে পুলিশ তাকে জিজ্ঞাসাবাদ করছে বলে জানান আসাদুজ্জামান।

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গুনবীর স্বীকারোক্তি: আমার বক্তব্যে যুব সমাজ উগ্র হয়ে উঠতে পারে


 ট্রিবিউন ডেস্ক

 প্রকাশিত ০৬:০২ সন্ধ্যা আগস্ট ৩০, ২০২১


মুফতি মাহমুদুল হাসান গুনবী সংগৃহীত

ওয়াজ মাহফিলে অংশ নিয়ে ধর্মীয় বক্তব্যের আড়ালে জঙ্গিবাদের প্রচারণা এবং জঙ্গিদের রিক্রুট করতেন মুফতি মাহমুদুল হাসান গুনবী

মানুষকে বিভ্রান্তিকর তথ্য দিয়ে জঙ্গিবাদে মোটিভেট করার উদ্দেশ্যে মুফতি মাহমুদুল হাসান গুনবীকে এ বছরের ১৫ জুলাই গ্রেপ্তার করেছিল র‍্যাব। তিনি বিভিন্ন ওয়াজ মাহফিলে অংশ নিয়ে ধর্মীয় বক্তব্যের আড়ালে জঙ্গিবাদের প্রচারণা করতেন বলে জানিয়েছেন র‍্যাব কর্মকর্তারা।

নিজের দেওয়া এসব বক্তব্যে মানুষ বিভ্রান্ত হতে পারে বলে তিনি স্বীকার করেছেন। গত ২৪ জুলাই মেট্রোপলিটন ম্যাজিস্ট্রেট আতিকুল ইসলামের আদালতে স্বীকারোক্তিমূলক জবানবন্দিতে গুনবী বলেন, “না বুঝেই তিনি এসব করেছেন। তার এসব বক্তব্যে যুব সমাজ উগ্র হতে পারে।”

জবানবন্দিতে গুনবী জানান, তিনি দাওয়াতুল ইসলাম নামের একটি সংঘটনের সাথে যুক্ত। এই সংঘটনের মাধ্যমে তিনি ইসলামের দাওয়াত দিতেন। এছাড়া ওয়াজ মাহফিলে পরিস্থিতি আলোকে উসকানিমূলক বক্তব্য দিয়েছেন।

তিনি বলেন, “আমি বিভিন্ন ওয়াজ মাহফিলে ধর্মনিরপেক্ষতা নিয়ে কথা বলেছি। যারা ধর্মনিরপেক্ষ তারা কুফরি করছে। যারা ইসলামের বিরোধিতা করে তাদের হত্যার পক্ষে বলেছি। আমি সাহাবীদের জিহাদের বিষয়ে বলেছি। তাদের অস্ত্র রাখার ব্যাপারে কথা বলেছি। আমি বলেছি ইসলাম শুধু শান্তির ধর্ম নয়। এতে যুদ্ধ বিগ্রহ আছে। সবার কাছে অস্ত্র রাখতে হবে। সেই অস্ত্র দিয়ে কাফেরকে হত্যা করতে হবে। কেও যদি আমাদের জঙ্গি বলে বলুক, তাতে কিছু যায় আসে না।”

আইনশৃঙ্খলা বাহিনীর কর্মকর্তারা বলছেন, মুফতি মাহমুদুল হাসান গুনবী বিভিন্ন ওয়াজে উসকানিমূলক বক্তব্য দিয়ে আসছিলেন। তার এসব বক্তব্য সামাজিক যোগাযোগ মাধ্যমে সারা বিশ্বের বাংলা ভাষাভাষী মানুষের কাছে ছড়িয়ে পড়েছে। তার বক্তব্য শুনে অনেকেই উগ্রপন্থায় পা বাড়িয়েছে।

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Religious ‘provocation’ on Facebook, two arrested

Chittagong Bureau, bdnews24.com Published: 01 Sep 2021 12:27 PM BdST Updated: 01 Sep 2021 12:27 PM BdST


Chittagong district detective police have arrested two people for giving religious 'provocative' status on Facebook.

They were arrested on Tuesday night from Gauripur in Comilla's Daudkandi upazila. 

The arrested are Muhammad Shibbir bin Nazir (21) and Rifat Khandaker (21). They are students of Mohammadpur Madrasa in Dhaka.

Chittagong District Detective Police Inspector Keshab Chakraborty told bdnews24.com that Shibbir had gone to Chandranath Hill in Sitakunda on August 28.

"He posted a picture of the call to prayer on Facebook and gave a religiously provocative message. And Rifat shared his post urging everyone to come forward. ”

Chandranath hill is one of the places of pilgrimage for Hindus. Where the Chandranath temple is located on the top of the hill. There are also several other temples.

Apart from Bangladesh, many pilgrims from different parts of the world come to Chandranath hill every year.

Keshab, an intelligence officer, said Shibbir worked as a tourist guide at an organization called Sundarbans Tourism. On behalf of the organization, he went to Chandranath hill in Sitakunda on August 28 with some tourists.

He said a case has been filed against Shibbir and Rifat at Sitakunda police station under the Digital Security Act.





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আনসারুল্লাহ বাংলা টিমের আটককৃত অধিকাংশ সদস্য জামিনে মুক্ত

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নিষিদ্ধ ঘোষিত আনসারুল্লাহ বাংলা টিমের চার সন্দেহভাজন সদস্যকে রাজধানীর নিকুঞ্জ এলাকা থেকে আটক করে র‌্যাব, ১ ডিসেম্বর, ২০১৯ ঢাকা ট্রিবিউন

অভিযুক্ত জঙ্গিদের জামিনে মুক্তি হওয়ায় তারা আবারও বিপদ ডেকে আনতে পারে বলে আশঙ্কা করা হচ্ছে

২০১৩ সালের জানুয়ারিতে ব্লগার আসিফ মহিউদ্দিনের ওপর হামলার সতের দিন পর তাকে হত্যাচেষ্টার অভিযোগে সাদ আল নাহিয়ানসহ সাতজনকে আটক করে পুলিশ। অভিযুক্তদের তখন কট্টরপন্থী ইসলামী সংগঠন আনসারুল্লাহ বাংলা টিমের (এবিটি) সদস্য হিসেবে চিহ্নিত করা হয়েছিল। 

এটিই ছিল আনসারুল্লাহ বাংলা টিমের প্রথম নথিভুক্ত আক্রমণ। 

পরবর্তী বছরগুলোতে, চরমপন্থা নির্মূলে সরকারের সদিচ্ছায় আইনশৃঙ্খলা রক্ষাকারী বাহিনীর বিভিন্ন অভিযানে সন্দেহভাজন আনসারুল্লাহ বাংলা টিমের শত শত জঙ্গি সদস্যকে গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়। তবে, অভিযুক্ত জঙ্গিদের প্রায় অধিকাংশেরই জামিনে মুক্তি হওয়ায় এই গ্রেপ্তারের সাফল্য ধরে রাখা যায়নি; কারণ, এইসব জঙ্গিরা আবারও বিপদ ডেকে আনতে পারে।

পুলিশ সদরদপ্তর এবং আদালতের নথি অনুসারে, আনসারুল্লাহ বাংলা টিমের গ্রেপ্তারকৃত সদস্যদের মধ্যে ৪২% জামিন পেয়েছেন এবং স্বাধীনভাবে ঘুরে বেড়াচ্ছেন।

২০১৩ থেকে শুরু করে হত্যা ও জঙ্গিবাদের অভিযোগে দায়ের করা ৭৬ টি মামলায় মোট ৩৫০ জন আনসারুল্লাহ বাংলা টিমের কর্মী গ্রেপ্তার হয়েছে। তাদের মধ্যে ১৪৮ জন জামিন পেয়েছেন বলে এই প্রতিবেদক তথ্য পেয়েছেন।

জামিনপ্রাপ্ত ১৭ জন আসামি মুক্তির পর থেকে নিখোঁজ রয়েছে। তারা শুনানির জন্য আদালতে হাজির হয়নি। সন্দেহ করা হয় যে তারা আবারও জঙ্গিবাদে ফিরে গেছে।

পুলিশ এবং তদন্তকারীরা দাবি করেন, জঙ্গিরা আদালতে জামিন পেলে সেটি তাদের দোষ নয়। আবার, আদালত সূত্র যুক্তি দেয় যে গ্রেপ্তারকৃতদের বিরুদ্ধে পর্যাপ্ত প্রমাণ সংগ্রহ করতে ব্যর্থ হওয়ার জন্য পুলিশ দায়ী।

আদালত সূত্রে আরও বলা হয়, জঙ্গিবাদের মামলার বিচার প্রক্রিয়া দীর্ঘ, কখনও কখনও কয়েক বছর লেগে যায়, যার ফলে অভিযুক্তদের জামিন দেওয়া হয়।

এখন পর্যন্ত এ সংক্রান্ত মাত্র সাতটি মামলায় বিচার সম্পন্ন হয়েছে এবং বাকি ৬৯ টি মামলা এখনও বিচার এবং তদন্তাধীন রয়েছে।

ব্লগার আসিফ মহিউদ্দিন মামলায় ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের সান্ধ্যকালীন শিফটের এমবিএ’র ছাত্র নাহিয়ান এবং সাবেক শ্রম প্রতিমন্ত্রী মুজিবুল হক চুন্নুর ভাতিজা জামিন পেয়ে কারাগার থেকে বেরিয়ে যান। আরও তিন আসামি- মো. কামাল হোসেন, কাওসার হোসেন এবং মো. কামাল উদ্দিনও জামিনে মুক্তি পেয়েছেন।

জামিনে বেরিয়ে মো. কামাল হোসেন আত্মগোপনে চলে যান এবং পুলিশ এখনও তার কোনো হদিস পায়নি। আনসারুল্লাহ বাংলা টিমের তথাকথিত আধ্যাত্মিক নেতা জসীমউদ্দীন রহমানিয়া এবং অন্য আসামিরা এখন কারাগারে এবং বাকি আসামি পলাতক রয়েছেন।

অন্য একটি মামলায় আসিফ আদনান ও ফজলে এলাহী তানজিলকে ২০১৪ সালের ২৪ সেপ্টেম্বর গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়।

একজন অবসরপ্রাপ্ত বিচারকের ছেলে আদনান এবং একজন শীর্ষ আমলার ছেলে তানজিল আনসারুল্লাহ বাংলা টিমের রহমানিয়ার অনুসারী ছিলেন। ডিএমপি মিডিয়া সেন্টারে প্রেস ব্রিফিংয়ের সময় দুজনকেই মিডিয়ার সামনে হাজির করা হয়েছিল।

তাদের কাছ থেকে একটি কম্পিউটার, তিনটি সেল ফোন, দুটি পেনড্রাইভ এবং তিনটি সিডি জব্দ করা হয়। পুলিশের দাবি, দুজনেই জঙ্গি হওয়ার প্রস্তুতি নিচ্ছিল।

সেই সময় গোয়েন্দা পুলিশের এক বিজ্ঞপ্তিতে উল্লেখ করা হয়, আল-কায়েদার প্রধান আয়মান আল জাওয়াহিরির একটি ভিডিও বার্তা থেকে অনুপ্রাণিত হওয়ার পর তারা দুজনেই নুসরা ব্রিগেড দ্বারা প্রশিক্ষিত হওয়ার জন্য সিরিয়ায় যাওয়ার পরিকল্পনা করছিলেন এবং ফিরে এসে বাংলাদেশে আল-কায়েদার ভারতীয় উপমহাদেশ শাখা (একিউআইএস) চালু করার পরিকল্পনা ছিল তাদের।

গ্রেপ্তারের তিন মাসের মধ্যে জামিনে মুক্তি পান আদনান এবং পরে অভিযোগ থেকে খালাস পান। অন্যদিকে জামিনে মুক্তি পাওয়ার পর নিখোঁজ হন তানজিল ।

আদনান ও তানজিলের তথ্যের ভিত্তিতে পুলিশ সে বছরের ২৯ সেপ্টেম্বর কমলাপুর রেলওয়ে স্টেশন থেকে সামিউন রহমান ওরফে ইবনে হামদানকে গ্রেপ্তার করে। বাংলাদেশি বংশোদ্ভূত এই ব্রিটিশ নাগরিক জঙ্গি সদস্য সংগ্রহের জন্য বাংলাদেশে এসেছিলেন বলে জানা যায়, তিনিও জামিনে মুক্তি পান।

২০১৭ সালে নয়াদিল্লিতে তার গ্রেপ্তার হওয়ার খবরটি সবার জন্য আশ্চর্যের ছিল। একজন ব্রিটিশ জঙ্গি সংগ্রহকারীকে কিভাবে মুক্তি দেওয়া হয়েছিল এবং পাসপোর্ট বাজেয়াপ্ত হওয়ার পরও তিনি কীভাবে বাংলাদেশ ছেড়ে গেলেন তা নিয়ে পুলিশ বিভ্রান্ত হয়েছিল।

একইভাবে ব্লগার নীলাদ্রি চ্যাটার্জি হত্যা মামলার ১২ জন অভিযুক্তের অর্ধেক এখন জামিনে মুক্ত। ২০১৫ সালের আগস্টে রাজধানীর খিলগাঁওয়ে নীলাদ্রীকে কুপিয়ে হত্যা করা হয়। মামলাটি এখনও তদন্তাধীন।

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ED: Justice at last

 Tribune Editorial

 Published at 12:04 am September 2nd, 2021

We have a long fight still ahead of us to quash the forces of extremism

It has been five years since LGBT activist Xulhaz Mannan and his associate Mahbub Rabby Tonoy were brutally murdered by six extremists -- all of them members of the militant organization Ansar al-Islam. It brings a ray of hope to see justice delivered at last, for a crime that sent shockwaves through the country at the time, resulting in an atmosphere of fear in the capital and in other parts of the country. 

The capital punishment was handed down to six people under Section 6(2) of the Anti-terrorism Act 2009, and two were acquitted as the charges against them could not be proven. Finally, the families of the two victims can find some solace in the fact that justice has been served, and a clear, strong message has been sent to extremist outfits: Our justice system will not cower before forces of militancy, or those who seek to create panic and chaos, and repress free speech.

This verdict, in a way, is part of an even bigger picture: The murders of Xulhaz and Tonoy were part of a long series of attacks on writers, bloggers, intellectuals, and others who exercised their rights to voice their opinions contrary to the views of militants. By murdering Xulhaz, Tonoy, and many others, militant forces had hoped to achieve a larger objective of silencing a society that is constitutionally based on tolerance, free speech, and religious plurality. 

The truth is, we have a long fight still ahead of us to quash the forces of extremism. But we can win this fight by bringing justice to all those who were slain for similar reasons as Xulhaz and Tonoy swiftly, and never giving any quarter to militancy, whatever shape it may take.

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কেমন করে ‘জঙ্গি’ হলেন, জবানবন্দিতে বললেন নাবিলা

Published:  September 02, 2021 18:13:28

সন্ত্রাসবাদবিরোধী আইনে গ্রেপ্তার নিষিদ্ধ জঙ্গি সংগঠন আনসার আল ইসলামের সদস্য জোবাইদা সিদ্দিকা নাবিলা আদালতে ১৬৪ ধারায় স্বীকারোক্তিমূলক জবানবন্দী দিয়েছে।

বুধবার মহানগর হাকিম শাহিনুর ইসলাম তার খাসকামরায় নাবিলার জবানবন্দি নেন বলে পুলিশের প্রসিকিউশন বিভাগের উপ-কমিশনার মো. জাফর হোসেন জানান।

বৃহস্পতিবার আদালত পাড়ার সাংবাদিকদের তিনি বলেন, কীভাবে জঙ্গিবাদে জড়িয়ে পড়েছিলেন নাবিলা তা জবানবন্দিতে বলেছেন। কয়েক বছর আগে তিনি ‘স্বেচ্ছায়’ জঙ্গিবাদে জড়িয়ে পড়েন বলে বিচারককে জানান। খবর বিডিনিউজ টোয়েন্টিফোর ডটকম-এর।

আদালত পুলিশের সংশ্লিষ্ট সাধারণ নিবন্ধন কর্মকর্তা রনপ কুমার ভক্ত বলেন, “অনেকক্ষণ ধরে নাবিলা জবানবন্দি দিয়েছে। আমি এখনো কপিটি দেখিনি।”

পুলিশের ভাষ্য, অন্যান্য জঙ্গি সংগঠনের আরও নারী সদস্য গ্রেপ্তার হলেও তারা নাবিলার মতো প্রশিক্ষিত ছিলেন না। আনসার আল ইসলামের হয়ে মিডিয়া শাখা অর্থাৎ জঙ্গিবাদের প্রচার-প্রচারণার দায়িত্ব পালন করতেন নাবিলা। সামরিক শাখার সঙ্গে তার যোগাযোগ ছিল। তিনি দেশ ও দেশের বাইরে যে কোনো সময় জিহাদ করার জন্য প্রস্তুত ছিলেন।

গত ২৬ আগস্ট রাজধানীর বাড্ডা এলাকা থেকে তাকে গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়। জিজ্ঞাসাবাদে জানা যায়, নাবিলা ২০২০ সালের প্রথম দিকে নাম-পরিচয় গোপন করে ছদ্মনামে একটি ফেইসবুক অ্যাকাউন্ট খোলেন। পরে আনসার আল ইসলামের অফিশিয়াল ফেইসবুক পেইজ ‘তিতুমীর মিডিয়ায়’ যুক্ত হন।

তাদের উগ্রবাদী মতাদর্শ ব্যাপকভাবে ছড়িয়ে দেওয়ার জন্য নাবিলা ফেইসবুক, টেলিগ্রাম ও ‘Chirpwire’ নামের অনলাইন প্লাটফর্মে ছদ্মনামে অ্যাকাউন্ট খোলেন।

মামলার নথিপত্রে বলা হয়, নাবিলা নিজে আনসার আল ইসলামের বিভিন্ন অফিশিয়াল ও আন-অফিশিয়াল চ্যানেলে যুক্ত ছিল। সেই চ্যানেলে আইডি ও আগ্নেয়াস্ত্র তৈরি করা এবং বিভিন্ন হামলায় কৌশলগত বিষয়ে ভিডিও এবং ফাইল শেয়ার করতেন। এমনকি সাম্প্রতিক সময়ে তার বিয়ের কথাবার্তা চললে সে ছেলে পক্ষকে জানায়, জিহাদের ময়দানে ডাক এলে সে সামনের সারিতে থাকবে। এমনকি শহীদি মৃত্যু এলেও পিছু হটবে না এবং ছেলে (পাত্র) এরূপ মতাদর্শের না হলে সে বিয়ে করবে না।

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RAB arrests 4 suspected militants after ‘gunfight’ in Mymensingh

 Sultan Mahmud, Mymensingh

 Published at 02:02 pm September 4th, 2021


RAB members with the arrested militants in Mymensingh on Saturday, September 4, 2021 Focus Bangla

They are activists of banned outfit JMB, says the elite police unit

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has claimed to have arrested four suspected militants after what it described as a gunfight in Mymensingh.

The incident took place at Khagdahar area near the city during the early hours of Saturday, Md Rokanuzzaman, the chief of Mymensingh-based RAB 14, told Dhaka Tribune.

Khandaker Al Moin, director of RAB's legal and media wing, at a press briefing on Saturday said initial interrogations revealed that the militants were preparing to rob various financial institutions in the district.

The suspects have been identified as Julhas Uddin alias Mehedi, 34, and Alal alias Ishaq, 48, from Mymensingh, Robaid Alam alias Rub, 33, from Brahmanbaria, and Abu Ayub alias Khalid, 36, from Rangpur.

A pistol with three rounds of ammunition, eight bomb-like objects and several equipment to break locks were found on the suspects, said RAB.

“A raid was conducted in the area on a tip-off. At one point, the suspects opened fire forcing the RAB to retaliate,” said Rokanuzzaman. The four men were arrested after the shooting ended, he added.

During initial questioning, the suspects said that they belonged to banned militant outfit JMB, according to RAB media wing chief Moin.

“Ehsar operatives of the JMB are actively involved in various terror attacks and in robberies at financial institutions to gather funds for the organisation,” he added.

How the robbery was planned

The suspects said that a group of 10 to 15 activists would gather information about several financial institutions, NGOs, gold shops in Mymensingh, the RAB claimed.

The idea was to transfer the loot to another group soon after the robberies, said senior RAB official Moin before adding that the suspects had held a meeting on August 31 in Jamalpur.

They travelled to Mymensingh’s Khagdahar on Saturday by a trawler through the Brahmaputra River. 

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Bangladesh needs to be open to engagement with Taliban: Ambassador Humayun Kabir

 KHAWAZA MAIN UDDIN | Published:  September 04, 2021 13:50:39 | Updated:  September 05, 2021 08:21:05


As decades of wars have destroyed Afghanistan’s society installing a war culture into communities, former ambassador Humayun Kabir thinks, Bangladesh has the scope to contribute to rebuilding the devastated country showing a development model of poverty alleviation and women empowerment.

In an exclusive interview with The Financial Express, the President of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute insists that Dhaka now needs to expand its strategic horizon from the immediate neighbourhood and focus on countries like Afghanistan, a gateway to the central Asia and the Middle East.

“Our schools, colleges, universities should teach about our neighbourhood because we have to prepare our generations about the neighbourhood how they are evolving, what are the opportunities, what are the challenges. Only then can we have a balanced kind of generation to look at the countries,” he says.

In the wake of the fall of the Western-backed government in Kabul and the victory of the Taliban last month, the retired diplomat has emphasised the importance of engaging with the Taliban leaders without being ‘unnecesarily derailed with indecision’ on Bangladesh’s part to seize new opportunities in Afghanistan in the coming days.

The full text of the interview is given below:

The Financial Express (FE): How far do you foresee stability and possibility of people’s wellbeing in Afghanistan this time around, after the takeover by the Taliban forces despite bitter experiences of the land-locked country located at a strategic crossroad?

Humayun Kabir (HK): I would like to mention a couple of points in this regard. When we build up a state or manage a state, trust is the most important element between the governed and those who govern. The activities of the Taliban in the past time or in the previous tenure is their nemesis. Taliban has to be counterintuitive. In the sense that they have to prove that they are not what people think about them.  This is a huge challenge for the Taliban. My sense is that it looks like the Taliban has taken one or two lessons from their past mistakes. They are saying that ‘we have learned from our past mistakes, we will not repeat those, we will build an inclusive government, inclusive society, show respect to women’s rights, education, equal opportunities, we will not take revenge, etc.’. That’s what they are saying but the Taliban will have to prove themselves. Trust-building is a very important element in the current context of Afghanistan, between Taliban as ruler and the people of Afghanistan largely, I would say. There are many people who are leaving Afghanistan. Once a system grows, it creates its own interest groups. Fear dominates the return of the Taliban. Fear is an irrational thing. Nobody knows why one is fearful. But the Taliban is responsible for engendering that sort of fear among the people. It is up to them again to take some sort of initiative to remove the sense of fear from the people. If somebody feels insecure, they need to feel secure. Taliban will have to do a lot of work in that regard.

Security-wise, the Taliban had an ongoing conflict with both ISIS and al Qaeda in the recent years. I saw some reports that ISIS K was a tool that was created by some people in the previous regime to poke other sides. Taliban is dead against those corruptions. I must not underestimate the fact that the Taliban had a soft corner for al Qaeda. They need to show the world that they are no longer a part of that nexus. Even the Haqqani group which is branded as a terrorist organisation by many of the western countries are partly in charge of Kabul security and strong component of Taliban itself.  Now, the Taliban will have to prove that they are not dominated by Haqqani group’s agenda or strategies or priorities. This is one security area where the Taliban will have to prove their worth.

The humanitarian crisis unfolded very deeply. A lot of people have been displaced. Now, these people are moving around the country. Some are taking shelter in Kabul and some are taking shelter outside. One has to address these issues because this is a humanitarian crisis. People have to be fed and properly kept. Also, just behind that is coming serious food crisis. WFP has indicated that Afghanistan’s food situation is not good. Prices are also increasing by leaps and bounds because the value of AfghanAfghani is falling. The World Bank, the other donors, have stopped the supply or commitment of funds to Afghanistan. The US is holding a supply of US$10 billion. This money has to be channelised or flown to the economy just to give the assurance that yes, money is there. The very assurance or very guarantee that money is flowing would have strengthened Afghan. This is a major problem how to manage the basic economic problems, inflation, and other issues. It is a major problem how to tackle major economic problems. Afghanistan has been under war for the last 40 years. The Taliban will have to have a completely different agenda and show to the Afghan people that they are different from the earlier dispensations. One of the challenges they will have to deal with is that for the last 20 years, the US cronies have spent billions of dollars. Where has that money gone? The Afghan people will have to see the value of development, really transforming their lives. At an individual level, they should feel that the government is with me. One of the challenges that the Afghan government has suffered is that they were a government divorced from the reality of Afghanistan for 20 years. As a result of that, there was a disconnect between what the people were thinking and what their supporters were thinking. This has been amply demonstrated when the Taliban came – these people just left and fled because they didn’t have any public support. Whenever a dispensation does not enjoy the support, then its value is very limited. That has happened. It has collapsed like a house of cards.

The Taliban will have to have a counter agenda just to give real hope to the people. Unless there are security, legitimacy of the Taliban through the acceptance by the international community, real serious economic plan, political viability of building inclusive Afghanistan, I think, all these things will be difficult. The military victory was the easiest part for the Taliban. They will now have much more difficult and daunting challenges to overcome in the days and months to come. Now, they cannot blame the Americans. Everything will come down to them. Afghanistan is in a very difficult transition. Something like what we experienced in 1971. In the last few weeks, the Afghan state has melted now. All the institutions just have melted. Now, they will have to rebuild all the institutions based on trust, participation, credibility, and so on and so forth. This would be quite a bit of a challenge. I think if they are honest and they understand the reality, many of their values, they will have to adjustto the reality. Reality dominates rather than values.  Last time, they ruled by values and they lost. The Afghan people welcomed Americans then. Last time, in 1996, the Taliban was welcomed by the people against the bickering and the conflicts of the Mujahedeen. So, the people welcomed them. Now, again after five years, people welcomed the Americans and the Northern Alliance because they were fed up with the Taliban. Now, the Taliban will have to prove that they are not what people think or perceive about them which is a big, big challenge for them. I would summarise by saying that building up a state with new institutions, new participation, new credibility and also partnership with the international community will be a major challenge for Afghanistan. Taliban cannot rule without international partnership now because Afghanistan’s economy is in complete shambles. Last time, they were recognised by only three states. It was very difficult to survive in that kind of environment. If they have taken their lessons, the Taliban can perhaps find a new day. As a developing country, South Asian country, and SAARC partner, we wish them well.

FE: Is the latest Afghan episode going to be any kind of trendsetter for third world nations, especially Muslim majority countries affected by foreign interventions or civil war, and what could be the probable ramifications of the Taliban victory?

HK: There are both positives and negatives. Positive means if the people stand up, then even if they are apparently less powerful and helpless, they can win. That is one lesson. We have seen that lesson in the post-Arab springtime as well. But those successes could not be sustained due to subsequent mistakes. Power is good but power has to be exercised in a very balanced way. One negative point of view is that when the Americans came, people generally welcomed them. But American’soverexercise of power has destroyed the American influence.Many of the western countries came up with a tremendous amount of pressure. In many countries, those pressure didn’t work. Neither could they change the ground reality nor could they change society nor could they achieve their objectives also. So, the overexercising of power by anybody may prove to be counterproductive. We have to think about that in whichever way we want to explain it. One should be very judicial in terms of the utilisation of the power. Then, there is the issue of the credibility and connection between the government and the people. Any power that wants to sustain or survive has to ensure the people’s ownership of policies. Without people’s ownership, regardless of how much physical power one may have, ultimately, it does not survive. Some 50,000-60,000 Taliban chasing away a power like the United States, what lesson does one need to have? This is something that everybody should try to look at and understand the meaning of it and the depth of it. I believe one has to also understand this. Unless the rulers are accepted by the people, the imposition may not survive for long. The cost could be very high. One can see that in many of the countries we have seen this before. The external intervention either for regime change or regime retention does not produce desired results. For sustainability purpose, it has to be owned by the people. The value of power should be seen in the light of the service that it provides to the community. If the common people own the system, then it will survive. If not, the soviet Union collapsed without firing a shot. Why? People abandoned. People said ‘we don’t own this, I don’t believe in this system’. And the entire 70-years-old system had collapsed. One lesson we can learn from there and again also from Afghanistan, regardless of how powerful one may look, unless it is owned by the people, power cannot survive. Then again, I would say that one needs to understand that no matter whatever we boast from outside, unless it has some resonance with the local context, it is very difficult. Society does not modernise itself too fast. In Afghanistan history, we have seen the Taraki government in 1978. On April 28, 1978, the Taraki government came and they were sponsored by the Soviet Union at that time. Then, he introduced some of the very advanced measures which were radical at that time. That could not make much headway and the then Soviet Union itself entered Afghanistan in 1979 and tried to build up a socialist Afghanistan. After 10 years, they completely failed. It just ran with its tail between the legs. Twenty years ago, America came just to democratise Afghanistan and build up a modern Afghanistan. Now, look what has happened. Having said that, I would say that one needs to understand the gradual evolution in a society. We can see that Talibans are even talking about they do not want to let people go out. They are concerned that trained people and human resources are now fleeing Afghanistan. They understand that they need people to run the airport, they need people to run the economy. They need people to run the government structures, the businesses and so on and so forth. They understand that. I think it would be very intelligent of them if they could retain those people or incentivise for them to come back. It is not impossible. There are some examples: South Korea. One of the reforms that Park Chung-hee did in 1974 was to invite the Korean expatriates to come and incentivise them and that was one of the major policy plans that helped to modernise and industrialise South Korea. There are many other countries that have followed that line. I think if the Talibans are intelligent, they can do well. I am getting the first glimmer of hope that they may not be as stupid as people may think. If they can deliver on what they are saying, in my view, things will be different. Afghanistan has a huge potential. One has to understand why the British, the Soviets, the Americans are keen on Afghanistan. Afghanistan has huge hidden resources and also oil, perhaps. Afghanistan could be a regional hub because major gas pipelines like TAPI  (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) stopped because Afghanistan was not stable. Now, China has BRI projects in Pakistan. Perhaps, Afghanistan could integrate it. A well-managed or reasonably good managed Afghanistan could give many lessons to counties such as these at that level of development and perhaps create a new model of development. As I said, I sympathise with the Afghanis. They are struggling for generations, 40 years of continuous war ’79 onwards, occupation after occupation. I must commend their heroism. Under that kind of pressure, that kind of torture, that kind of oppression, they survived and stood up to try to do something on their own. I wish them good luck.

FE: What are the strategic compulsions or choices left for Bangladesh in the Afghan ‘crisis’, until it is resolved, given the involvement of or evacuation by great powers?

HK: We are not a part of the evacuation process. Twenty-eight states have participated in that in different ways, i.e.: some giving temporary shelters, some providing planes, and so on and so forth. We are not part of that. But I think there are other options we could look at. For example, Afghanistan has been a historical friend for us during our liberation war. I can tell you that many people passed through Afghanistan in that time from Pakistan. There has been a soft corner between Afghanistan and Bangladesh. So, that historical connection resonates also. We can explore that connection. In terms of other connectivity, for example, one area would largely be the economy. Bangladesh has been an experimental ground for many of the development stories in terms of poverty alleviation and building an egalitarian society. There are issues. I am not underestimating that. But largely, Bangladesh is an egalitarian society. Our experience in building an egalitarian society, fighting poverty, managing poverty alleviation, family planning, etc. are the kinds of lessons which are not very visible but very useful. In very low-profile areas of development, Bangladesh could perhaps become a partner of Afghanistan. One needs to understand the geostrategic feelings as well. If I were an Afghani, what I would have thought Pakistan, neighbour, fine, but should we be too much dependent on Pakistan? Always remember that no one wants a dominant neighbour. Even the Canadians don’t like Americans as a dominant neighbour whereas they are the best two countries. Afghanis might be thinking that India, yeah, but Pakistan may be objecting to India, for example from a geopolitical context. But for both India and Pakistan, Bangladesh would be okay. We are a member of SAARC, a Muslim-majority country. So, Bangladesh has no other agenda. They will do just fine. That is an opportunity that Bangladesh can explore. This is a slightly wild idea but I’m just thinking if everything goes right, the TAPI that I am talking about, Bangladesh is hungry for energy. Where do we get energy? I mean, this could be one source. We can add Bangladesh to the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India gas pipelines. We claim it all the time that India is our friend. So, we can ask India to help us to extend the line to Bangladesh. If that happens, Bangladesh would be strategically benefitted from it. From a strategic point of view, we have openings for example. As we know, Afghanistan is a gateway to central Asia. We can explore those kinds of stuff. Not only from a geopolitical strategy perspective, economic strategy perspective, cultural strategy perspective, being a friendly SAARC neighbour will be beneficial. When Afghanistan was proposed by India, it was in Dhaka during the 2005 SAARC Summit. We have some connection between the larger regional dynamic for example. As we go along, technology could be another area where we could cooperate. We sell our bandwidth to India for example. We could do that with Afghanistan. Another important area is Afghan women's empowerment. Bangladesh’s achievement in the women empowerment domain could be replicated. I know you may be tempted to raise that question. But our NGOs have been working, BRAC has already been working in Afghanistan. We don’t try to talk about this much but this is one area where we could help them. Afghanistan is such a country where government access is very difficult. It has very unreachable, very remote areas. In those local areas, the NGOs can work together and build up a society. And as we know, war destroys any other culture and it instills a war culture. From that violent proneness to a peaceful mindset, that is something that NGOs can do it in their own way and Bangladesh is one of the best NGO destinations in South Asia. Many NGO interventions including microfinance can be implemented there. Already, BRAC is working. In many soft ways, Bangladesh can build strategic relations with Afghanistan.

FE: Why should, or should not, Bangladesh establish and maintain a direct contact with the Taliban leaders when the situation is still uncertain? Who are the players that can help Bangladesh in reaching out to the Afghan leaders?

HK: As diplomats, our job is to build bridges. We do not always build bridges with our friends. We are trained to build bridges with our enemies also. We can have a word with them via intermediary; China, Russia, Iran are there. Or we can have direct discussions. They have offices in Qatar and other places.  We can drop fillers and say that we are interested. If you think you are ready, just look at what are the areas where we can cooperate. We can leave our markers for example in terms of recognition. Even Pakistan has stated that they will not unilaterally recongise the Taliban government. Pakistan also wants to coordinate with other regional countries, i.e: China, Iran, Tajikistan, Russia. We can tell them, ‘yeah, we can work with you but we will be working with our other partners’. Then, we can offer them that if you need, we can help you to build up your communities. Our NGOs can help you. I am sure they know about BRAC already. BRAC has been working there for so long. Taliban is now in power. Even when they were not in power, they were a factor in Afghanistan particularly in the rural areas. So, we can mention that. We have been working and we can come back to work in the health sector, education sector, agricultural sector, women empowerment. I think the Taliban will not hesitate because particularly, there is a strong sensitivity of the Taliban in the women empowerment sector. If we can present our work empowering the women in Bangladesh, I am sure they will be willing to look at it. These are some of the issues we can highlight before them. If they are interested and ready, then definitely we can work together. I would say in the SAARC member countries, government changes but we as a state continue to maintain our relationship at an appropriate level for appropriate kinds of results.

FE: What are the specific areas, as you see, where the two countries can cooperate for maximising their interests once normalcy is restored there?

HK: As I said, agricultural cooperation, civil society cooperation, education could be potential areas. Lots of Afghanis come to Bangladesh for education. Lots of Afghan women come to Asian University for Women. We can open up our universities for Afghan students for scholarship. There can be other trade cooperation. We are a country that can provide a lot of cheap quality stuff, i.e.: garments, low tech engineering products, various health items, soap, toothpaste, etc. In a developing society, these are in great demand. I found that to be in some demand in Nepal for example. We can very well do the same kind of trade with Afghanistan.

FE: Despite historic relations with Afghanistan, do Bangladeshi policymakers and stakeholders properly understand the Afghan people and their culture for maintaining warm relations? What needs to be done in Dhaka to connect to Afghan authorities and people?

HK: I would say that our relationship or understanding about Afghanistan is basically two-dimensional so far. One dimension is that Afghanistan helped us during our Liberation War. The second is: the Taliban are in Afghanistan and they are promoters of violence and extremism in Bangladesh. These are two general perceptions. I think there is much bigger dimensions than that in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a nation, an old nation. Afghanistan has a multi-ethnic group of people. Afghanistan has a society, a culture, an economy, politics, everything. We should look at Afghanistan from that multidimensional perspective. I think, then, we can build a balance. Do we have anything to be concerned of? If there is anything negative about which we are conscious, we should be careful about that. As a friendly country, definitely if we have got particular concerns, we can raise that issue that we are concerned about. At the same time, we should open up areas where we can cooperate with that country. And this goes in our relationship with every country. No relationship is monolithic. Every relationship is multidimensional. There are areas where we converge, there are areas where we diverge. So, we always try to improve the convergence area. For Afghanistan as well, if we have a concern, we should raise it. I admit there is genuine concern about Talibani philosophy, Talibani value system and somehow sadly their contribution to creating extremist groups in Bangladesh. Of course, we admit that’s a problem. We can well guard against that kind of challenge in the future. At the same time, we can go beyond that and explore the other areas. Why is Israel interested in Iran? Iran is not an Israeli neighbour. Why? Because that is a strategic horizon. For Bangladesh, our strategic horizon should be much larger than our immediate neighbourhood. We have to have that kind of approach. In order to understand that, we need to have good research. Good research is required. For these regional countries, if possible, I would recommend, not only for Afghanistan, our schools, colleges, universities should teach about our neighbourhood because we have to prepare our generations about the neighbourhood how they are evolving, what are the opportunities, what are the challenges. Only then can we have a balanced kind of generation to look at the countries. We have a tendency of dividing a country as good or bad. No country is good, no country is bad. Every country is good, every country is bad. It depends on what issues we are talking about with them. The same thing goes for Afghanistan. We have to have a good understanding. It is a part of SAARC, it has a Muslim population, and you can see that during the crisis, we need support of some core issues, for example. On the Rohingya issue, it was the OIC that stood by us at the end of the day. Sometimes, we don’t talk about it. Sometimes, we think OIC has not done anything. But they stood by us at the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Human Rights Council. They stood by us, co-sponsored the resolution. That has a value. So, we have to understand that entire gamut of relationship and multidimensional perspective. We need to mature in terms of our understanding to research, to study through education to build up a future generation.

FE: As a former ambassador of Bangladesh, what will be your advice on this issue at the political level and at the diplomatic level?

HK: The same thing as I have just said. We should try to understand the dynamic. I have always said that. In order to understand a nation, one has to understand the domestic dynamics in the sense that what kind of Afghanistan will now be created would be decided by whether Afghanistan has an inclusive society or not. If it is an inclusive, participatory, democratic society, then Afghanistan is likely to pursue democratic, peaceful purpose. Why? Because building up a domestic coalition requires a lot of the exercises which would need to build up a peaceful neighbourhood also. At one point, I asked former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu regarding this. I asked him what would have happened had you become Prime Minister of India. He said, the government would not have fallen. I said that how can you guarantee that. He said,“I’ve been running this coalition for so many years. Hence, I know how to work with so many others.” That is a democratic spirit. On the other side, I can tell you just to substantiate what I just said, I asked a Minister how does JyotiBasu rate you. He said I am more than CPM part. I said, ‘how come?’ He said ‘he(JyotiBasu) values me more than CPM because CPM was in his pocket. I was outside. He values my words more than what he values his own party’. That is what I am saying. If you see a country is developing its own consultative process of governance, that country is more likely to be more consultative with its neighbours. How a country is developing domestically, if a country is becoming monolithic domestically, you can be sure that country is likely to be more monolithic in its external perspective as well. We are seeing that in the region as well. So, I would very deeply study Afghanistan. And if it is possible and the situation permits, we should try to engage with the Taliban as soon as possible in coordination with our other neighbours. But we must not be unnecessarily derailed with indecision whether we should go or not. I can give one example where we were indecisive and missed the chance. In the case of Kosovo, the Kosovo and the Bangladesh war are almost similar. It is domestic or internal colonialism. But we hesitated to recognise Kosovo for a long, long time. Kosovan diplomats expressed their unhappiness with us. I would say that we should not be that. We should be open, objective and have a good analysis of the situation and based on that examine our pros and cons and then move ahead in coordination with others. As you know, there are regional coordination and international coordination going on. So, we must keep in touch with both the coalitions and networks and understand what they are thinking. If they are positive, we will engage without hesitation. I mean, there are many emotional angles. We should not be driven by that emotion. Emotion might take away many good things from us. Bangladesh is now a country that is moving ahead. We need to understand and lean forward whenever required in terms of our foreign policy.

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