Sunday, June 21, 2009

Weekend Cadre Tells All!

A part-time member (gayeri ehsar) of JMB told the Daily Star that the group had briefly joined the Kansat movement in April 2006 because the group felt betrayed that the ruling BNP-Jamaat coalition at the time reneged on a pledge “to protect the organization and annihilate the Sarbaharas.” According to the Daily Star, the Kansat movement began in January 2006 after locals brought allegations of irregularities against Rural Electricity Board officials. During the movement, 500 JMB full-time and part-time cadres destroyed government property and torched government vehicles.

More importantly, the JMB is using different cross-border routes in Chapainawabganj (Rajshahi) and Jessore (Khulna) to smuggle in bomb-making materials and small arms from India and to traffic them to different “offices” located in cadres’ homes. In addition, the member also revealed that Majlish-e-Shura members are attempting to reconstitute the organization in Dhaka and other divisional towns.

He listed a few of the Shura members noting that they hail from Gaibandha, Pabna, and C’nawabganj. Though recruitment has been stalled, the JMB is focusing on recruiting family members (both blood and through marriage). Finally, the group is planning attacks “in several important districts” to embarrass the government.

This revelation has a number of important points – firstly is the confirmation that at least some elements of the BNP were aware of the JMB’s existence and actively collaborated with them. More disturbingly, these elements may have been involved in the countrywide bomb blasts of 2005, since the physical manifestation of the falling out evidently occurred in the Kansar movement in April 2006.

Secondly, though the information regarding the arms trafficking routes is probably known to the security and law enforcement forces, it gives the public and international community a much clearer picture of JMB’s current activities. The JMB is regrouping, setting up trafficking routes, and safe havens in the border areas. Moreover, the fact that the Majlish-e-Shura members are also from these districts indicates that militant Islamist tendencies are both well-developed and tolerated in these areas.

One of the Shura members “Bhaigna” Shahid is reviving operations in Bogra, the same district that Bangla Bhai was from. It would be worthwhile to know which sub-districts Shahid is conducting operations.

These revelations will certainly assist the local police and RAB forces in tracking down and apprehending the JMB groups. From the reports over the last couple of days it seems that the authorities are dealing with the JMB effectively. The law enforcers should continue to explore the trafficking routes from India and actively engage Indian local police and Border Security Forces in order to shut down these routes. This is a great opportunity to build confidence between the two governments’ security and law enforcement organizations while also dealing with a mutual threat.

However, apprehending JMB cadres and dismantling trafficking routes does not address some deeper issues. All levels of Bangladeshi government, but the local level in particular, must learn the reasons that the JMB has continually been able to reassert itself in certain districts of Rajshahi division. If these reasons are due to the local population’s grievances or advocacy by certain mullahs, local government can take proactive steps in addressing these issues. If the government doesn’t explore the deeper causes of militant Islamism and only deals with its current manifestation, the authorities will simple drive militant organizations further underground.

The danger is that the next time the JMB resurfaces it may be too late.

No comments: