Al-Shams (East Pakistan)

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The Al-Shams (Bengali: আল শামস) was a paramilitary wing of several Islamist parties in East Pakistan[1] composed of local Bengalis and Biharis[2] that along with the Pakistan Army and the Al-Badr, is accused of conducting a mass killing campaign against Bengali nationalists, civilians, religious and ethnic minorities during 1971.[3] The group was banned by the independent government of Bangladesh, but most of its members had fled the country during and after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, which led to Bangladesh's independence.

Naming and inspirations[edit]

Al-Shams is an Arabic word meaning 'The Sun'. Al Shams and Al-Badr were local Bengali and Bihari[2] armed groups formed by the Pakistan Army[4] which were mostly recruited from the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami to fight out and resist Mukti Bahini. [5]


On 25 March 1971, after Operation Searchlight, the exiled leadership of what is now Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan and armed struggle against the Pakistani Army began. This struggle was spearheaded by elements of Mukti Bahini with strong support from India. As most of the locals were in support of Mukti Bahini and those who were not were killed by Mukti Bahini, the Pakistani Army, composed largely of elements from Punjab,[6] found itself and its cause pretty much alienated from the local populace.

In order to counter this situation, the Pakistan Army accepted help from Islamic fundamentalist parties including Jamaat-e-Islami, proclaiming Jihad against Indians, to seek unity among the population for the two wings of Pakistan, in the name of religion. It described Bengali nationalism as an Indo-Zionist conspiracy. The PPP played an active role in its formation.[7] It also recruited from the Urdu speaking Bihari population of East-Pakistan.[8] This Jihad was between the Pakistani Army and the liberation forces and their supporters (Indians and Mukti Bahini). To recruit the local populace into fighting the independence movement, two sister organizations Al Badr (literally meaning The Moon, but also has a reference to the famous Battle of Badr) and Al Shams were formed.[9]


The organizations was supported by local wing of Jamaat-e-Islam Pakistan who declared it a Jihad.[10] The organization worked as the local guides for Pakistan Army supporting the troops providing logistics and information. It arrested suspects and transported them to interrogation centres that used torture.[8] It carried out looting, rape and violence on the civilian population.[11]

According to witnesses before the International Crimes Tribunal, the Al Shams was under the command of Fazlul Quader Chowdhury and led on the ground by his son Salauddin Quader Chowdhury in Chittagong.[12] The other important members were former M.P. Syed Wahidul Alam of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Saifuddin Quader Chowdhury, the younger brother of Saluddin Quader Chowdhury.[12] They used to patrol the neighbourhoods of Satkania, Rauzan, Boalkhali, Patia and Rangunia in a jeep. They would set fire to Hindu houses and arrest anybody they suspected of being supportive towards the Mukti Bahini.[12] The suspects were taken to Salauddin Quader Chowdhury's residence Goods Hill, which had been converted to a torture cell, where they were tortured and killed. Their bodies were disposed off in the Karnafuli.[12]

On 12 December, the Al Shams and the Al Badr leadership jointly prepared the blueprint for killing the intellectuals. The Al Shams and Al Badar leadership met with Major General Rao Farman Ali and finalized the blueprint.[13]


The general surrender of 16 December 1971 culminates all armed resistance from Pakistani side and the two organizations ceased to exist.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Al-Shams". Banglapedia, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. Retrieved 2015-12-26. 
  2. ^ a b Saikia, Yasmin (10 August 2011). Women, War, and the Making of Bangladesh: Remembering 1971. Duke University Press. p. 40. 
  3. ^ "Pakistan's first two militant Islamist groups, Al-Badar and Al-Shams – by Nadeem F. Paracha". LUBP. Retrieved 29 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Iqbal, Khuram. The Making of Pakistani Human Bombs. Lexington Books. p. 38. ISBN 9781498516495. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  5. ^ Haqqani, Husain (2005). Pakistan : between mosque and military (1. print. ed.). Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. p. 79. ISBN 0870032143. 
  6. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (2002). Pakistan : nationalism without a nation? (1. publ. ed.). New Delhi: Manohar Publ. p. 54. ISBN 1842771175. 
  7. ^ Chengappa, Bidanda M. (2004). Pakistan, Islamisation, army and foreign policy. New Delhi: A.P.H. Publ. p. 39. ISBN 8176485489. 
  8. ^ a b Hiro, Dilip (March 18, 2015). The Longest August: The Unflinching Rivalry Between India and Pakistan (1st ed.). Perseus Books. p. 202. ISBN 1568585152. 
  9. ^ Roy, Kaushik; Gates, Scott. Unconventional Warfare in South Asia: Shadow Warriors and Counterinsurgency. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 117. ISBN 9781472405791. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  10. ^ Muehlenbeck, ed. by Philip E. (2012). Religion and the Cold War : a global perspective. Nashville: Vanderbilt Univ. Press. p. 278. ISBN 0826518532. 
  11. ^ Saikia, Yasmin (2011). Women, war, and the making of Bangladesh : remembering 1971. Durham, N.C: Duke University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0822350386. 
  12. ^ a b c d "ফকার নেতৃত্বে সাকার তত্ত্বাবধানে ছিলো আল-শামস'". (in Bengali). Dhaka. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  13. ^ ১২ই ডিসেম্বর আল বদর এবং আল শামস তৈরী করে বুদ্ধিজীবি হত্যার নীল নকশা. Ekushey TV (in Bengali). Dhaka. Archived from the original on 11 May 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.