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No soft pedalling on terror
No soft pedalling on terror
On October 31 Bangladesh security forces arrested a pilot from the state-run airline Biman Bangladesh Airlines accused of plotting with militants to hijack or crash a plane in a spectacular attack on the pattern of 9/11 terrorist attack on Twin Tower.

Sabbir Emam, a pilot with the national airline was detained along with three others suspected of links to the militant group Jamiatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the organization responsible for last year’s Holey Artisan café siege in Dhaka that left 22 people dead including 18 foreigners.

 

According to the country’s elite security force Rapid Action Battalion, Sabbir plotted with JMB militants to crash a plane into the homes of senior government officials and leaders or to take passengers hostage. Sabbir, a pilot since 2014, flew a Boeing 737 passenger aircraft as recently as on October 30. He was radicalized by hard-core JMB activists.

 

JMB comprising mostly the extremist cadres of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibir commenced operating in the year 2002 with the sole objective of pursuing Taliban model of Islamic revolution in Bangladesh. Even after being banned in February 2005, JMB carried out synchronized bomb blasts across the country and its violent activities, marked by advent of suicide bombers in the country, continue unabated till now.

 

According to the country’s elite security force Rapid Action Battalion, Sabbir plotted with JMB militants to crash a plane into the homes of senior government officials and leaders or to take passengers hostage. Sabbir, a pilot since 2014, flew a Boeing 737 passenger aircraft as recently as on October 30. He was radicalized by hard-core JMB activists.
It would appear from the pattern of recent attacks perpetrated by the JMB cadres – commencing from July 1, 2016 at the Holey Artisan Café in Dhaka causing multiple fatalities closely followed by the attack on an Eid congregation next week on July 7 and then again on December 24 when a woman and a teenager blew themselves up during a police raid – that the militant outfit is rapidly growing in strength and making its presence felt.

 

Saidur Rahman, former Amir of JMB made many sensational disclosures after his arrest in 2010 about modus operandi and sources of fund of the organization. According to him JMB activists learnt operational tactics from the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, from whom they also acquired techniques for manufacturing and handling explosive devices and arms.

Moreover the outfit earns huge sums from JMB-run taxicabs, CNG-run three wheelers, vans and rickshaws. JMB members operate these vehicles to disguise as part of the masses and also to get used to tough job. Security and defence analyst Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University International Relations department stressed the need for a big investment in research on militancy as militants, who earlier used different channels and money laundering to send money, are exploring new systems to get the job done.

 

He also said that JMB follows al Qaeda’s ideology and works to expand and strengthen al Qaeda’s base in Bangladesh, adding that the JMB activists successfully carried out test-launching of three rocket launchers in the dense forest and inaccessible areas of Sunderbans beyond  of reach of security forces in 2010. He also disclosed that JMB cadres mastered the technique of manufacturing bombs that explode instead of getting diffused when in contact with water and all these are stored in JMB hideouts across the country.

 

Financial strength of JMB has been a grave concern for law enforcement agencies. Of the monthly earnings, around Tk 50 lakh is received from JMB supporters and sympathizers staying in Australia, England, Italy, Canada, Malaysia and other Middle East countries, Saidur Rahman further said. There are reports of international NGOs extending financial assistance to JMB.

 

Moreover the outfit earns huge sums from JMB-run taxicabs, CNG-run three wheelers, vans and rickshaws. JMB members operate these vehicles to disguise as part of the masses and also to get used to tough job. Security and defence analyst Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University International Relations department stressed the need for a big investment in research on militancy as militants, who earlier used different channels and money laundering to send money, are exploring new systems to get the job done.

 

Now JMB cadres are being imparted training for carrying out car bomb attacks. Security forces have of late seized huge stockpiles of explosive materials, broken up numerous terrorist cells and apprehended a number of JMB militants. The arrests and seizures bear witness to JMB’s wide spread reach and presence in Bangladesh.

 

JMB founder Shaikh Abdur Rahman, his second-in-command Bangla Bhai and four regional commanders of the party were awarded death sentence by a Dhaka court for their involvement in violent activities in the name of Jihad. Following this, former MP and Jamaat ideologue Maulana Delwar Hossain Sayeedi who has been undergoing lifelong jail term on war crimes charges, approached the then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia with a request not to implement death sentence of the militants as they could be used as ‘assets’ on the ground. After Khaleda Zia-led government completed its tenure these militants were executed by the Army-backed caretaker government. Execution of the high profile leaders and action by security forces against the outfit actually recited a resurgent JMB to perpetrate fresh attacks.

 

Simply by banning radical groups it will not be possible to rein in the militant outfit. The mentors and patrons of the outfit need to be identified and apprehended and sources of funds are to be choked. Otherwise the threats posed by JMB will continue to recur.




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