The Islamic Jihad Movement in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is an Islamic country, in the north east of the Indian subcontinent, with a secular regime, which was known as East of Pakistan before its independence in 1971. The country faced armed conflicts with Islamist groups, including the Islamic Jihad Movement accused of carrying out attacks in the country, in 2003 and 2004.
Moreover, the Islamic Jihad Movement is a Bangladesh organization with camps in Pakistan and Bangladesh, founded in 1992. The Movement which harbored lots of Taliban fighters after the collapse of the regime, is also closely related to al-Qaeda, and has a cell belonging to the Kashmiri Jihad movement led by Ilyas Kashmiri. Moreover, the movement was banned in Bangladesh, on October 2005, on charges of the involvement in a bomb attack on a political rally held by Sheikh Hasina, in 2004 that killed 23 people.
In addition, the United States has also classified the movement as a terrorist group in 2008, saying that the leader of the group signed a fatwa in 1998, issued by the former leader of al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, which declares that American civilians are legitimate targets for attacks. Thus, the United States ordered to freeze the funds of the movement in the United States, and banned American citizens of providing financial support to the movement.
Furthermore, the Islamic Jihad Movement led by Ilyas Kashmiri, claimed the responsibility for the implementation of a series of attacks, including the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, in 2008, and the bombings in New Delhi in 2011. Also, some members of the Islamic Jihad Movement attempted to assassinate the poet Shamshur Rahman with an axe, in 1999, yet 44 members were arrested, and it was rumored that two of them had been sent from South Africa and Pakistan by former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to distribute money to religious schools.
Ilyas Kashmiri is regarded by anti-terrorism officials as one of the most dangerous men in the world. He is also a veteran Jihadist who battled the Indian security forces in his early years, in Kashmir, in order to gain independence from India, and fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
In addition, after Kashmiri lost the support of the Pakistani army in Pakistani Kashmir, he moved his base to North Waziristan. Thus, Kashmiri is still wanted by the India authorities, on charges for the bombing of a lab frequented by foreigners in Peony in 2010.
Nevertheless, intelligence agencies also believe that Kashmiri is trying to form cells in Europe to launch simultaneous attacks on European cities, just like the attacks that took place in the Indian city of Mumbai.
Also, Kashmiri was the leader of a former group called “Battalion 313”, which is the branch of the Islamic Jihad movement that is responsible for building close ties with al Qaeda. Furthermore, Kashmiri had close links with American David Hadley, who is believed to have carried out reconnaissance operations that paved the way for the Mumbai attack in India on November 2008, and was arrested by Pakistan in 2003, on charges of involvement in an attempt to assassinate the former President Pervez Musharraf, but was released for unknown reasons.
• Al Sharq Al Awsat Newspaper, February 7, 2009
• “Does terrorism have a religion and a nationality?”, Dr. Zfr al-Isalam Khan, editor of the of the Indian “ml Gazette” newspaper
• BBC, September 8, 2011.
• CNN July 4, 2011.
• Encyclopedia of desert fighters.
• Al Jazeera 8/3/2008
• “Who are the most wanted al-Qaeda members after the killing of bin Laden?’, CNN, June 2, 2011