Monday, August 3, 2009

Inspired to Jihad, Joining the Offshoot?

Information derived from suspected militants over the last couple of months has presented a clearer picture of the Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and its offshoots, the Islam O Muslim and the new Jamaat-e-Muslimeen (JM). More importantly, new information has shown that the JMB and JM recruit at mosques under the banner of Dawat-e-Islam (DI). However, there is a legal question facing the Bangladesh, do DI's recruiting and advocacy activities at mosques constitute a criminal offense?

The above graphic (constructed with Compendium) illustrates the current picture of Islamist militancy in Bangladesh as Bangla Nation understands it, based solely on New Nation and Daily Star reports since January 2009.

Zahidul Islam ("Boma Mizan") arrested explosives expert of the JMB disclosed the existence of the JM and its current 'dawati' (invitational) activities taking place in Dhaka. 'Many JMB members we have arrested in recent times told us that they were members of Dawat-e-Islam and were first inspired in jehadi spirit through its activities. They later joined JMB,' according to a security official (Daily Star).

In April, seven members of the DI were arrested in Patharghata, Chittagong (possibly in Kotwali thana/police station) (Daily Star). However, this weekend's article noted that the seven members were acquitted by a Chittagong court because the police failed to prove their "involvement in militant activities." However, a Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) official asserted that "Jamaat-e-Muslimeen and Bangladesh-based Dawat-e-Islam are the same organization."

This is probably a bit too simplistc. While it seems there is little doubt that DI engaged in activities on behalf of JMB and possibly JM, it is unknown whether the JM and DI are the same organization. For one, the DI operates in over 70 countries, including Pakistan (hence the qualifier - Bangladesh-based). Jamaat-e-Muslimeen, on the other hand, has been billed as an offshoot of the JMB (like the Islam O Muslim organization).

The Chittagong Court made the right decision on acquitting the seven members of DI. After all, there was no evidence to suggest that they were themselves militants. This acquittal is a Bangladeshi victory for rule of law and the U.S., UK (and organizations like the HRW) should recognize it as such.

It is ironic that the rule of law saved those seven detainees. Hopefully, they will reflect on this and compare it to the countless videos of beheadings and abductions of individuals under the pretext of "justice."

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