Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (alternate spelling: Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh; abbreviated: JMB; Bengali: জামাত-উল-মুজাহিদীন বাংলাদেশ) was an Islamic fundamentalist organisation operating in Bangladesh. It was founded in 1998 in Palampur in Dhaka division by Abdur Rahman  and gained public prominence in 2001 when bombs and documents detailing the activities of the organization were discovered in Parbatipur in Dinajpur district. The organization was officially banned by the government of Bangladesh in February 2005 after attacks on NGOs, but struck back in mid-August when it detonated 500 bombs at 300 locations throughout Bangladesh.
The JMB was believed to have contained at least 100,000 members, and have an extensive network of organizations, including connections to legal Islamist organizations. Six of the top leaders of JMB were captured by the Rapid Action Battalion security force in 2005. On the evening of 29 March 2007, four were executed by hanging for the killing of two judges and for the August 2005 bombings.
The JMB's aim is to replace the government of Bangladesh with an Islamic state based on Sharia. It has explicitly stated on more than one occasion that it opposes the political system of Bangladesh and seeks to "build a society based on the Islamic model laid out in Holy Quran-Hadith." The organization follows the ideals of the Taliban of Afghanistan. Its chief has been quoted as stating that "our model includes many leaders and scholars of Islam. But we will take as much (ideology) from the Taliban as we need." It opposes democracy as being in violation of Shari'a or Islamic law.
It also opposes socialism and its avowed objective is to neutralize left-wing extremists, especially cadres of the Purba Banglar Communist Party (PBCP). JMB also is opposed to cultural functions, cinema halls, shrines and NGOs. In another leaflet it said, "We don't want Taguti [non-Islamic] law, let Qur’anic law be introduced. Law framed by humans cannot continue and only the laws of Allah will prevail."
They have claimed responsibility for several violent attacks and bombings. JMB's communiqués reveal a Salafist doctrine that is common across international radical Islamist organizations. In a leaflet written in Bengali and Arabic found at various bombing sites of 17 August 2005 it stated:
"We are the soldiers of Allah. We have taken up arms for the implementation of Allah's law the way the Prophet, Sahabis and heroic Mujahideen have implemented for centuries. If the government does not establish Islamic law in the country after this [third] warning and, rather, it goes to arrest any Muslim on charge of seeking Allah's laws or it resorts to repression on Alem-Ulema, the Jamaatul Mujahideen [JMB] will go for counteraction, Insha Allah."
Several captured members of the group have claimed that their targets include traditional Bangladeshi cultural and non-government organizations such as BRAC, Proshika, and Grameen Bank. Leader Abdur Rahman is alleged to have taught JMB operatives that "it's not a sin to loot valuables of Grameen Bank, BRAC, Proshika, Asa and Karitas' as they encourage women to shed Burqa (veil)."
On 20 May 2001, 25 petrol bombs and documents detailing the activities of the organization were discovered and eight of its members were arrested in Parbatipur in Dinajpur district. It is believed to have been involved in an explosion of seven bombs on 13 February 2003 at one of its hideouts, having been preparing to explode them in northern Bangladeshi towns during International Mother Language Day.
On 12 January 2005, bomb blasts at two separate cultural events in Sherpur and Jamalpur districts injured 25 and 10 respectively. Bomb blasts on 15 January 2005 at Jatra performances at Bogra and Natore killed two and injured over 70 people.
On 17 August 2005, 500 small bombs at 300 locations in 50 cities and towns across Bangladesh detonated within the space of 30 minutes. Dhaka International Airport, government buildings and major hotels were targeted. There were 50 injuries but only two fatalities - a child in Savar, near Dhaka, and a Rickshaw-puller in Chapai Nawabganj District - because of the small size of the bombs. Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh claimed responsibility for the bombings.
Bombs later in the year were more deadly "killing judges, lawyers, policemen and common people". It killed two judges in Jhalakathi in South Bangladesh on November 14, 2005.
The group has threatened journalists, with more than 55 receiving death threats between September and December 2005. Following a December 8, 2005 suicide bombing, Reuters reported the group threatened to kill women, including non-Muslims, who did not wear the veil, according to news reports posted by defenddemocracy.org.
The JMB is said to be the youth front of Al Mujahideen, the parent organization that began working in the mid-1990s which remains obscure even today. Other organizations, such as Jama'atul Jihad, JMB, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), Hizbut Tawhid, Tawhidi Janata, Islami Jubo Shangha, Islami Shangha, Al Falah A'am Unnayan Shanstha and Shahadat-e al Hiqma are believed to be part of the Al Mujahideen network. Further, the JMB is believed to contain at least 100,000 members, and an alleged 2,000-man suicide brigade.
JMB allegedly received financial assistance from individual donors in Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Libya. Reports have claimed JMB received funding from international NGOs like Kuwait based Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage (RIHS) and Doulatul Kuwait, Saudi Arabia based Al Haramaine Islamic Institute and Rabita Al Alam Al Islami, Qatar Charitable Society and UAE-based Al Fuzaira and Khairul Ansar Al Khairia.
Some of the RIHS offices were blacklisted in 2002 by the US State Department because of alleged links with al-Qaeda. Though these connections have not been proven. Following the bombings in August, the Bangladeshi government deported five foreign RIHS officials. Al-Haramaine was banned by the US in 2004 and its branches in Albania, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and the Netherlands were added by the UN Security Council to the Al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee on 6 July 2004.
South Asian Terrorist Portal (SATP), The Columbia World Dictionary of Islamism and Defenddemocracy.org state that Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh "appears" to be connected with putatively non-violent, legal Islamist group or groups in Bangladesh, Defenddemocracy speculating that Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh is a "proxy" established by the legal Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh party to "push the center of gravity of the political debate toward radical Islamism" and make Jamaat-e-Islami appear more centrist. According to SATP, "many members of the JMB and JMJB have invariably been found to be cadres of the Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS), student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a partner in the ruling coalition" with the Bangladesh National Party "under Prime Minister Khaleda Zia" that came to power in 2001.
Sphere of influence
Main areas of JMB operations were:
- Rajshahi Division: Bogra, Sirajganj, Dinajpur, Jaipurhat, Gaibandha, Naogaon, Nator, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Tahkurgaon
- Khulna Division: Bagerhat, Jessore, Khulna, Meherpur, Satkhira
- Dhaka Division: Jamalpur, Mymensingh, Netrokona, Tangail
- Chittagong Division: Chandpur, Laxmipur, Chittagong
Since its foundation, the group was led by Maulana Abdur Rahman, a.k.a. Siddiqul Islam a.k.a. Bangla Bhai, and Shaykh Abdur Rahman. Six of their top men were captured by RAB security authorities in 2005. After being convicted at trial, on the evening of 29 March 2007, Abdur Rahman, Bangla Bhai, and four other leaders of the organization were executed by hanging for the killing of two judges and for countrywide bombings in 2005.
The JMJB reportedly has a three-tier organisation. The first tier of the outfit consists of activists called Ehsar, who are recruited on a full-time basis and act at the behest of the higher echelons. The second tier, known as Gayeri Ehsar, has over 100,000 part-time activists. The third tier involves those who indirectly co-operate with the JMJB. According to JMJB leaders, the whole country has been divided into nine organisational divisions.
Khulna, Barisal, Sylhet and Chittagong have an organisational divisional office each, while Dhaka has two divisional offices and Rajshahi three. The outfit also had committees in each village and, according to media reports, villagers were being forced to join the committees. If anybody refused, he was branded as a "collaborator" of the PBCP and taken to the JMJB "trial centre".
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