Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New name... same goals?

Recently, the Daily Star ran an article on an Islamist group, Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HUJI), and the group's desire to "operate under a new name." According to HUJI, which was banned by the Khaleda Zia-led BNP (and Jaamat-e Islami) government in October 2005, they had actually been dissolved since 1995 and that only Mufti Abdul Hannan and Mufti Abdur Rouf, HUJI's founders and leaders, were involved "in any criminal activities or had any criminal records." Mufti Abdul Hannan was arrested in 2005.

One member of the renamed-group, Islamic Democratic Party, says that "'We are still in a Jihad in the country as we were in the past in Afghanistan against Russia and America. But now we are fighting against evil-education, corruption, and communalism,' Abdul Kuddus, who reportedly claimed to have fought in Afghanistan for 17 years against Russian and American forces, said talking to The Daily Star."

According to the Daily Star the IDP has been formed in 42 districts and all thanas of Dhaka city. Moreover, the IDP has even begun renting offices and "organizing activists" in 300 upazilas across the country - presumably to contest the still TBD national election.

Though the IDP purports that its Jihad is for "rebuilding the country by promoting true democracy." The South Asian Terrorism Portal stated that, since 1992, HUJI's aim has been the conversion of Bangladesh into an "Islamic State" based on Islamic hukumat (rule) by waging war and "killing progressive intellectuals."

The pending election and the results thereafter will tell if the Bangladeshi voting public believes this change of heart on the part of HUJI leadership. Moreover, the results of the election may provide light on whether HUJI's shift is more than cosmetic.

Post-election note (21 June 2009):
The Election Commission did not authorize the/ Islamic Democratic Party to contest the national parliamentary election on 29 December 2008.

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