Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Hydra's Many Heads

Rajshahi Metropolitan Police arrested 18 persons on suspicion of links to JMB, according to the Daily Star on June 20. Three were later released. The detainees ranged in age from 44 to an 18-month old and included teenagers and pre-teens. All were arrested in the Tikapara area of the RCC.

A RMP official told the Daily Star that the 15 detainees were initially arrested for involvement in a new outfit ‘Ahle Sunnah al Jamaat.’ Detainee interrogation, however, revealed a new network “Kalema-e Jamaat” that allegedly has 600 adherents across the country. It’s probable that these adherents are unrepentant JMB cadres that have been in hiding since 2005 and are now regrouping under a new name to avoid detection.

A new network isn’t terribly concerning, as long as law enforcement services remain alert and proactive by tracking down financiers, suppliers, and sympathizers. The possibility of “600 adherents” spread “across the country” is good news. This would suggest that there is a traveling savant or two spreading the message, with diligence on the parts of the security and law enforcement forces they could be apprehended. More importantly this is a far cry from three years ago when the JMB claimed to have thousands of trained fighters.

Bangladesh should provide any worthwhile details to the Indian government as the arrests over the last few days have all occurred very close to the West Bengal-Bangladesh border. Having a keen set of eyes on both sides of the border will assist in detaining militants and would also go a long way in keeping the Kalema-e Jamaat/Ahle Sunnah al Jamaat/Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) on the run.

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