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AL-SHABAB of the East in Making

October 5, 2011

Youths belong to Middle and lower middle class are increasingly getting involved with Hijbut Tahrir (HT), headed by a Dhaka University Management teacher Golam Mohiuddin, a radical Islamic movement aims to establish Sharia based Islamic Empire around the world. Though Mahiuddin was detained and Hijbut Tahrir was banned, the stream of khilafat movement is still alive.

Mohiuddin got involved with this group while he was pursuing his post-doctoral studies in London. South Asian and Arab Muslims in UK failed to integrate into mainstream British society and became alienated. Most of them ended up in enlisting into radical Islamic groups sprung up all over the London. Returning to Bangladesh, Mohiuddin spread the ideology with stunning success—most of his followers are Corporate Executives, Business students, NGO officials, Businessmen, and ARMY personnel. Most of the private university teachers of Business Studies belong to this group. Since business graduates have most lucrative remuneration packages in job market, frustrated youth rallied behind to his organization to have a better future. His students hold superior position in local and foreign corporations. Like any other extreme organization, hatred preaching, mostly aimed at infidels and infidel countries are their main tasks.

Party members provide huge donation. Moreover, funds come from London-based Hijbut Tahrir activists. London-based Hijbut Tahrir activists are the lifeline of this organization. Apart from solid financial support, this group has strong IT establishment and media wing. Former right wing secretaries and teachers also provide valuable input for running the organization.

One cause of concerns is that field agents and mid level intelligence officials have soft corner for such movement. A military misadventure like Operation Khilafa, attempted by Pak General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi back in 1995, could not be ruled out. In fact, Pilkhana massacre of 2009 , carried out by renegade BDR personnel who were recruited during BNP-Jamaat regime violating all the standard recruitment procedure, bears hallmarks of such operation. One of the prominent Army officers killed in that incident was Col. Guljar Uddin Ahmed, former intelligence head of elite crime-buster Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), who oversaw the capture of the kingpins of Jamautul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). What was interesting is that Hijbut Tahrir activists distributed leaflet condemning the Pilkhana bloodbath and reproaching India-Israel-America for the mayhem within hours of the incident took place! That means they were well-prepared for it and they knew about it. Some of the activists even used to say something very bad was going to happen in this country even before the election took place in December 29, 2008!!

In recent months, as the economic condition of UK deteriorates and the incumbent conservative party took a harder stance on immigrants, many British of Bangladeshi origin , even Pakistani origin!, and Bangladeshi students who failed to manage a permanent residency are coming back to Bangladesh. Some of them are HT and JeI operatives. They are finding jobs in DFID funded projects and export-oriented business sectors. Since they have British degrees that have global recognition, employers have no reservation in recruiting them. What the employers do not keep in mind is that they do not abandon their ideology or the resentment against the west. It is just like feeding your own enemy. In the end of the day, part of this money will go to the Hijbut Tahrir (HT) or Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) fund. There are fears that a significant part of the climate fund may fall into the hands of the radicals.

The way they are growing in this country the brute Islamist group HT like Al-SHABAB of Somalia may turn Bangladesh into a wahabi state of ‘Banglastan’ in future.

Poor governance, corruption, soaring food prices and shrinking job market are creating an aura of discontent among people. Extreme ideological groups like HT and JeI with the assistance of vested military and foreign quarters are trying to take advantage of the situation. Infiltration of radicals into various law-enforcement agencies also worsens the situation.

Despite being a banned outfit, HT activists brought out overt street procession in recent moths; in addition, the attack launched by JeI and Shibir cadres is a stark reminder that there is a significant presence of Islamist groups in this country and they are just hibernating right now and are waiting for the opportune time to regroup and to resurface.

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