Archive for the ‘HuT – Bangladesh’ Category
Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Why Hizb ut Tahrir is Unlikely to Have Been Behind the Alleged Coup Attempt in Bangladesh
On the 19th of January, 2012, the Bangladesh army held an unprecedented press conference in order to reveal details of an alleged coup plot involving senior and mid-level officers supposedly linked to Hizb ut Tahrir. However, the alleged choice of Bangladesh for a coup to establish the Caliphate along with the unorthodox and incredibly incompetent manner in which the plot was orchestrated raises interesting questions as to whether it was planned by Hizb ut Tahrir. If so,it exposes the movement to serious questions of intellectual violation and ineptness. However, it seems more likely that either it was the the work of ‘rogue’ army personnel or it was a clever counter-coup operation staged by the Bangladesh army in order to manipulate an excuse to initiate radical measures aimed at eliminating the influence of Islamists from the armed forces. In any case, as I shall point out below,it becomes clear that no understanding as to planning existed between HT members and the officers and both were clueless on how to proceed once the actions had been initiated and communications between the two established. What ensued was simply a blend of naivety and chaos.
It is an open secret that Hizb ut Tahrir chapter in Bangladesh was started from its chapter in the UK and where its members of British origin remain in control of the work in the country. Arguably it is also where British intelligence has achieved its greatest success in penetrating, monitoring and influencing the movement and its members. This of course adds more complexity to understanding the political and operational issues concerning the alleged coup and whether or not the leadership of HT has control over its members and activism in many countries including Bangladesh. Implicit in the army statement was the role of the British chapter according to which;
“Recently, at the instigation of some non-resident Bangladeshis some retired and serving army officers with fanatical religious views and capitalising on others fanaticism led a failed attempt through their ill motivated activities to thwart the democratic system of Bangladesh by creating disorder in the army”
The activism of the members has generally followed a similar pattern to the UK, using a high profile trajectory but in this instance aimed at antagonising the political and military leadership with little patience or consideration for building a popular base and an intellectual leadership over the society as dictated by its own manuals. The consequences have led to a ban on the movement in 2010, leading to its operations being forced underground descending into a cat and mouse situation with the security services. Although, the HT leadership and its chapters in the Muslim countries have been obsessed with urging the armed forces of Muslim countries to mount ‘coups’, the allegations of an attempt by its own members in Bangladesh in order to establish a Caliphate is far removed from its ideational and operational understandings from two perspectives;
Firstly, Bangladesh fails on many levels to meet the criteria laid down by HT itself for assuming power and establishing the Caliphate. These include:
1. The requirement for the Arabic language
2. The leadership of both the party as well as its ideas in the society
3. The ability of the country to sustain itself economically and defend its realm militarily.
4. The ability to command leadership over the Muslim world.
Bangladesh being an impoverished country, with an incredibly weak army, very little authority in the Muslim world and devoid of the Arabic language is far removed from the conditions enunciated above.
Secondly, the manner in which the plot has been described does not conform to the carefully designed coup strategies adopted by HT throughout its history. It is no secret that HT works to penetrate the armed forces in the Muslim world. However, the strategy is incredibly covert and carefully crafted with no connectivity to the public work of its members whilst religiously guarding the identity of its assets in the military. Contrast this with the accounts of how the coup was supposedly orchestrated in Bangladesh.
According to the narrative, HT had openly revealed the identity of and distributed the grievances of the mastermind of the coup, Major Syed Ziaul Haq, which he had posted on Facebook. According to the army press briefing the attempt to create disorder in the army therefore had already been leaked. The army revealed that;
“Against the backdrop of a leaking of partial information about the conspiracy to create disorder in the army and the arrest of some individuals, fugitive Major Zia sent an e-mail to his acquaintances describing an imaginative an incredibly cooked up story of his so called arrest and torture. Later one Abu Sayeed uploaded the e-mail in a blog, ‘Soldiers Fortune’, on the social network Facebook…the banned fanatic organisation Hizb ut Tahrir on January 8, 2012 circulated provocative leaflets based on fugitive Major Zia’s internet message throughout the countr[y]”
In any coup manual, Major Zia would be regarded as a tainted asset and one not to be approached, especially since the alleged coup plan involving other officers had been unearthed by December 13th, 2011 and by December 22, 2011, Major Zia had himself become a ‘fugitive’ having absconded after being recalled to military headquarters. The army alleges that;
“With the motive of creating disorder in the army a retired Lt Colonel on December 13, 2011 instigated a serving Major to join him in executing his malicious plan. The Major instantly passed on the matter through his chain of command and the retired officer was arrested…Another accomplice of the retired officer Major Syed Ziaul Haq on December 22, 2011, met with a serving officer and instigated him to engage in activities subversive of the state and democracy. The serving officer informed the proper authority of the matter, as a result of which leave and transfer order of Major Zia, who had recently completed his long term training, was cancelled. He was informed over telephone on December 23rd, 2011 and immediately ordered to join army headquarters Log Area in Dhaka. Major Zia who was on leave remained fugitive and has been trying to continue ‘subversive’ activities against the army”
Moreover, Major Zia had started to use open and easily monitored channels in order to foment insurrection. According to the press statement;
“Later, the said officer sent out two e-mails containing imaginary and highly controversial contents styled “Mid- level Officers of Bangladesh Army are Bringing Down Changes Soon” through the internet”
Yet despite his abscondment and the discovery of the plot, Major Zia was still attempting to foment a coup by contacting officers using open means of communication. This is all the more problematic considering that the actions seem to descend into fomenting chaos rather than a coup and that since the military authorities had already become aware of the plot, and his specific role in it, the exposure of these officers as positive assets to himself would be an unnecessary risk. According to the statement;
“Some undisciplined and derailed army officers were actively involved in executing the vile conspiracy of fugitive Major Zia by misusing mobile phones and the internet. A court of enquiry was constituted on December 28, 2011…To execute the anti-state conspiracy…Major Zia on January, 9 and 10, 2012, sent copies of two imaginary operation orders to two different serving officers through e-mail. Besides on January 10, 2012 fugitive major Zia contacting some like minded officers, working in different formations or studying in different institutions over the mobile phone, wanted to know about preparations for the so called military coup”
The army account seems to clearly suggest that the coup attempt had clearly failed and that Major Zia had become ‘rogue’ in his actions and heavily monitored. Therefore any serious coup plotters would be well advised to keep clear of him. Yet, in the case of HT this did not happen. Not only did they actively participate in revealing their link with Major Zia and his ideas but according to the army statement they continued to engage with him whilst he was rogue and with full knowledge that his cover had blown and the coup plot had been detected. As seen above Major Zia continued to contact military personnel 18 days after the first detection of the coup and 17 days after his own detection and abscondment. By any measure this was a complete failure, yet not only did HT remain engaged, but according to the statement Major Zia contacted through open channels and British member of HT of Bangladeshi origin, Ishraq Hossein in order to prepare for a post coup situation by utilising the media in Britain and who was at the time ‘outside of the country’. The army states;
“[o]n January 10, 2012, fugitive Major Zia contacted some like minded officers working in different formations or studying in different institutions over the mobile phone, wanted to know about the preparations for the so-called military coup as per their plan and motivated them to execute the plot…On the same night fugitive Major Zia contacted [expatriate] Bangladeshi (no probably in Hong Kong) Ishraq Hossein several times. During conversation they discussed the progress of the coup and the process of implementing it. Fugitive Major Zia asked him to publish news in the media at home and abroad about the army coup in Bangladesh. Ishraq directed fugitive Major Zia to phone him around 2am on January 11 if the coup was completed by then so that he could reach Bangladesh in the shortest time. It is assumed that Ishraq gave this instruction with the aim of taking advantage of conditions in a post-coup situation”
This communication is the clearest indication in the statement that HT may not have been the ones guiding the alleged coup for the following reasons:
1. According to the statement HT distributed its leaflet on Major Zia on January the 8th, exposing his name. On January 10th Major Zia contacts Ishraq Hossein indicating that HT was not directly guiding the Major.
2. Major Zia contacts Ishraq Hossein who happens to be outside of the country indicating that Major Zia had no internal handler or contact. Hossein is likely to have been in contact with Major Zia in terms of advancing general ideas against the regime and HT’s history of seeking power. For this reason the communication had to be open and insecure by phone. Furthermore, Hossein did not commit to coming back immediately, rather he merely wanted to be informed by January 11 if the coup had been successful.
3. The details of what was discussed between Hossein and Major Zia clearly indicate that such information had been exchanged for the first time and no planning had occurred between the two. If planning had been agreed there would be no need for such a conversation. Communication would only be a last resort either to warn of failure or detection.
4. There is no indication of what Hossein’s position was in relation to HT or that he had any authority to back any coup attempt or post coup scenario.
Based on the army statement alone, the evidence points to either a rogue operation in which officers may have been in touch with HT members and where HT was not the actual planner. It is seems more the case that HT members tried to capitalise on the situation without any clear idea on how to proceed. However, the inept nature of the plot along with the erratic actions of Maj. Zia whereby he exposed not only himself but many other officers through direct contact and insecure communications such as the phone and internet indicates that Maj. Zia might have been part of a counter-coup strategy by the Bangladesh army to root out Islamists including those sympathetic to HT.
Whatever the case, it is not clear what HT aimed to achieve in the temporary chaos that seemed to have ensued in the army. If the alleged coup was authentic and it had succeeded would HT have given its support to any invitation from the coup leaders to establish the Caliphate? In order to do so HT would have had to completely forgo its criteria mentioned above. If not, then the consequences of its high profile actions aimed at the armed forces has demonstrated the potential to not only destabilise the institution but the country as a whole. Its obsession with the military and with coups is a clear sign its failure to demonstrate its commitment to building a popular base. Consequently, the lack of a real leadership over the society merely heightens the prospect of fomenting further chaos and possible civil-military conflict in Bangladesh.
Army Statement source: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=219148
5 Hizb ut-Tahrir members arrested in Bangladesh coup plot
Four members of the banned militant organization, Hizb ut-Tahrir, were arrested in Dhaka, Bangladesh on May 3, 2012. The arrestees, all male university students, were taken to the Shahbahg police station.
The men were arrested after starting a procession in central Dhaka, protesting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s upcoming visit, scheduled for May 5. The protests attracted around 25 Tahrir demonstrators, who also demanded the release of members of the organization, who remain in prison.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party that calls for the application of Islam in every aspect of life. The party remains controversial, as some suspect a connection between the organization and terrorism. Hizb ut-Tahrir however, emphasizes its official commitment to non-violent forms of change.
The organization was banned in Bangladesh in October 2002, after the country’s Home Minister accused its members of destabilizing the country. Hizb ut-Tahrir was also recently accused of staging an attempted coup agains the Bangaldeshi government in December 2011.
Friday, 23 September 2011 14:05
TO: THE HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS AND CIVIL SOCIETY
RE: Continuing Brutal Torture of Hizb ut-Tahrir Members and Activists by the Government of Bangladesh
Hizb ut-Tahrir draws the attention of all human rights organizations based in Bangladesh and internationally, as well as the civil society in Bangladesh to the continuing brutal torture of the party’s members and activists by the Government of Bangladesh (GOB); and calls upon the responsible executives and members of the human rights community, and the civil society to take up the issue with the GOB, pressing upon them the urgency of refraining from all forms of torture.
BACKGROUND AND FACTS
1. The current GOB resorted to a policy of brutal repression against Hizb ut-Tahrir since February, 2009, when the party exposed Sheikh Hasina and her government’s collaboration in the massacre of officers of the Muslim Army of Bangladesh. Party members and activists are regularly harassed and arrested. Up till now hundreds of party members and activists, along with the party’s official spokesman, Mohiuddin Ahmed, have been imprisoned under false cases. They are de nied bail despite plain and unambiguous grounds for granting them bail. Moreover any arrested party member or activist is always remanded in custody without fail, for no reason other than torturing them.
2. Being true to their reputation, the Bangladesh police, RAB and the Task Force for Interrogation (TFI) subject the members and activists of Hizb ut-Tahrir to inhumane torture using brutal means which include applying electric shock to their genitals, squashing them between slabs of ice for lengthy periods, blindfolding, stripping them naked, hanging them upside down and beating them severely etc.
3. In continuing with the repressive policies against Hizb ut-Tahrir , the GOB instructed the police to launch a brutal attack on the party’s programme on 13August, 2011, at Muktangon, Dhaka. The police severely beat and injured many members and activists who had to be admitted to hospital for treatment. The police also arrested 16 members and activists of the party from the programme. They were subsequently remanded for various durations. During their remand they were ruthlessly tortured in the same brutal fashion as in previous occasions:
- They were subjected to electric shock, applied to their genitals;
- They were stripped naked and squashed between slabs of ice for hours;
- They were blindfolded, tied, severely beaten and left hanging upside down; and
- They were forced to stay standing, and deprived of sleep for nights.
NAMES OF THE TORTURE VICTIMS
1. Shafayet Ullah, age 17
2. Asif Rahman, age 18
3. Syed Abdullah, age 19
4. Monirul Islam Piyas, age 20
5. Jamilur Rahman, age 20
6. Sabbir Ahmed, age 21
7. Radi Shafiq, age 22
8. Mohammad Faisal, age 22
9. Ashiqur Rahman, age 22
10. Syyedul Islam, age 22
11. Ahmed Nizam, age 23
12. Shahab Uddin, age 27
13. Sharif Shah Miraj, age 27
14. Jahidul Islam, age 29
15. Habibur Rahman, age 35 and
16. Jahid Uddin, age 42
Hizb ut-Tahrir urges all human rights and civil society organizations, as well as the sincere individuals from the human rights community and civil society to fulfill their duty of defending all prisoners of conscience by insisting that the GOB immediately ceases the torture of the members and activists of Hizb ut-Tahrir .
14 September 2011
16 Shawwal 1432
Interview with Mohiuddin Ahmed , media representative and chief co-ordinator of Hizb Ut Tahrir Bangladesh. Before he was illegally imprisoned without charge in 2009
Banned Hizb ut-Tahrir’s procession in city
Operatives of Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh, a banned militant outfit, yesterday brought out a procession in the city’s Bijoynagar Water Tank area protesting ongoing air strike by coalition forces in Libya.
Witnesses said around one hundred operatives, mostly youths, suddenly appeared around 11:00am with banners written in Arabic, English and Bangla, paraded up to Purana Paltan intersection and disappeared a few minutes later.
Shahbagh police said being informed, they reached the spot and chased some of the operatives who managed to escape.
Barisal, Dec 25 (bdnews24.com)—Police have arrested four female members of the banned Islamist outfit Hizb-ut-Tahrir from Barisal.
They are Bakul Begum, 50, and Asma Akhter, 28, of Shahgira village under Gouranadi Upazila; Farzana Akhter, 19, of Charhoglapati village of Babuganj Upazila and Jebun Nahar, 19, from Gondeshwar village under Uzirpur Upazila.
Police said they were arrested from Goila village under Agoiljhora Upazila around 10:30am on Saturday.
Agoiljhora police chief Ashok Kumar Nandi said they were arrested while distributing jihadi books and compact discs (CDs) at Goila village.
Preparations were on to file cases against them, he told bdnews24.com.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir was banned in Bangladesh on Oct 11 last year. It has also been banned in quite a number of countries, including Turkey, because of their involvement in terrorist activities.
Hizb ut-Tahrir Target Bangladesh
THE HATE-INCITING Islamist sect Hizb ut Tahrir has three clear goals: to establish a community of like-minded Hizb ut Tahrir members in host states, to sway public opinion in one or more host states to facilitate change of government, and, finally, to install a new government that implements Islam generally and comprehensively, carrying (its particular brand of) Islamic thought to people throughout the world.
Hizb ut Tahrir’s constitution is a typical, dark, Islamist, totalitarian, freedom-removing, theocratic and extremist formula for an Islamic Caliphate. Hizb ut Tahrir has distributed leaflets inciting the murder of lesbians and gay men. It has referred to suicide bombings as “legitimate” acts of “martyrdom”. One Hizb ut Tahrir member recently expressed his regret to the religious freedom organization Forum 18 that Hitler had not succeeded in eliminating all Jews. Hizb ut Tahrir is proscribed in Russia, Germany and many Muslim countries.
Embarrassingly, Britain is now Hizb ut Tahrir’s de facto headquarters, from where it fundraises and recruits, whilst supporting its extremist brothers and sisters across the globe. A ban on its activities is currently being reviewed by the British Government following the delivery of two dossiers of information on the sect’s activities by the anti terrorist group VIGIL in November 2006 and March this year.
The main spokesman for Hizb ut Tahrir, Dr Imran Waheed, who led a rally of 8,000 people in London in December 2005, is recorded as saying that there can be “no possibility of harmonious co-existence between Islam and the West. Ultimately one has to prevail.” Hizb ut Tahrir is – and has been for years – a systematic dissemination of venom and poison through duplicity; cloaked in a flawed and blatantly apostate interpretation of Taqiyya.
Hizb ut Tahrir – like most extreme Islamist groups (Al Qaeda, the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front, the Taliban and Hezbollah) – seek that elusive state from which they think they will be able to launch their religious and political ideologies and thus grow an Islamic empire. An empire – Hizb ut Tahrir refers to a caliphate – which, according to an archived webpage of the Hizb ut Tahrir website, would “wrest the reins of initiative away from other states and nations” and become the dominant hegemony before Islam ultimately takes over the world.
Since its inception in Jerusalem in 1953, Hizb ut Tahrir’s attempts at winning over a state – like almost all extreme Islamist parties’ attempts – have failed pitifully. In 1968 then 1969 Hizb ut Tahrir was allegedly involved in two failed coup attempts in Jordan and Syria. In 1974 Hizb ut Tahrir failed in a coup attempt in Egypt. Upset that they’d overestimated the number of nuts in their target states, in 1978 Hizb ut Tahrir begrudgingly acknowledged “that the Muslim Ummah had reached a state of total surrender and despair and was not responding to anything”.
After twenty years of banging its head against the wall (virtual silence punctuated by the occasional arrest of a member), in 1998 – incidentally the year of the Tanzanian and Kenyan US embassy bombings by Al Qaeda, and a year of marked Internet take-up – Hizb ut Tahrir suddenly decided once again that the world should know that “the Caliphate is the wish of all Muslims” and thus busily set about making as many people as possible believe in their parallel universe, hanging onto the coat-tails of 911 and consequent “victimization” of Muslims. Hizb ut Tahrir began a two level recruitment strategy – recruiting students who, when they found work, would keep the sect financially buoyant and uneducated “footsoldiers” who would eventually do their dirty work, when called upon to rise up and seize power.
Hizb ut Tahrir’s failures to get hold of a state rankle it most in Central Asia where it has large followings in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, as well as in China’s traditionally Muslim Xinjiang Province. Its expansion into Central Asia coincided with the breakup of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s but it came across unexpectedly tough national leaders where it tried to grow – one of whom is alleged to have got so fed up with Hizb ut Tahrir that he boiled some of its members alive – and consequently Hizb ut Tahrir huffed and puffed but failed to make the breakthroughs it was banking on.
Now Hizb ut Tahrir has set its sights on weak, impoverished Bangladesh, where President Dr Iajuddin Ahmed declared a state of emergency in January this year. Hizb ut Tahrir has developed a considerable support base in Bangladesh and in the Bangladeshi community in the UK, describing the last 16 years of government in Bangladesh as ”a failure of the so-called democratic system run according to the dictates of foreign imperialists”. Hizb ut Tahrir Bangladesh has recently published its “Islamic Manifesto” for the country demanding a Khilafah (caliphate), widespread implementation of Shariah law and – perhaps most worrying for the impoverished Bangladeshi economy – for such measures as no foreign ownership of any of the country’s resources.
Yet Hizb ut Tahrir refuses to enter democratic elections wherever it is in the world, claiming elections contrary to Shariah law thus null and void – instead, in Bangladesh, according to its chief in Bangladesh, Mohiuddin Ahmed, wishing to establish Bangladesh as an Islamic state through “systematic movement”.
So what is this “systematic movement” Ahmed refers to, and does Hizb ut Tahrir really have a chance of gaining the keys to the unstable Bangladeshi state?
Hizb ut Tahrir denies sending death threats to politicians, journalists and intellectuals in Bangladesh, though this extremist sect has a record of sending death threats to try to get its own way. (Notably, the gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell received numerous death threats from Hizb ut Tahrir representatives in the 1990’s). Through infiltrating government positions, Hizb ut Tahrir has brought pressure to bear on politicians through fear and finance.
Hizb ut Tahrir is recruiting followers at Bangladesh’s universities and several of its student activists have recently been arrested in the country for distributing inflammatory leaflets. It uses the old excuses of Palestine, Iraq and Western colonialism as the grounds for opportunistic recruiting – saying that its own policies will bring Bangladesh into a “Golden Age”, as once Islam (they allege) experienced. Any opportunity – whether it be cartoon protests or Papal utterances – presents the grounds for a Hizb ut Tahrir protest and recruitment drive.
Subsequent to a massive bombing attack on cities in Bangladesh on August 17th, 2005, Hizb ut Tahrir responded by accusing India of initiating a campaign to destabilize Bangladesh. Investigation later revealed the terrorist attack was carried out by another extremist Islamist faction in Bangladesh, Jama’atul Mujahideen. (Hizb ut Tahrir habitually accuses India, along with “Western colonial powers” of ‘conspiracy’ against the Bangladeshi populace, using speechifying not dissimilar to that used against the United States or Britain in the Middle East)
Certainly, Bangladesh is ripe for political change. And students – unlike in many other democracies – play an important part in Bangladeshi government. Student politics is particularly strong in Bangladesh, a hangover from the liberation movement era of the early 1970’s. Almost all parties have highly active student wings, and students have been elected to the Bangladeshi Parliament while still students.
The two major parties in Bangladesh are the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Bangladesh Awami League. BNP finds its allies among Islamist parties like Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and Islami Oikya Jot, while Awami League teams up with leftist and secularist parties. Another important player is the Jatiya Party, headed by former military ruler Ershad. The Awami League-BNP rivalry has been bitter and punctuated by protests, violence and murder – the three environments Hizb ut Tahrir thrives in.
Hizb ut Tahrir garners support and funds for its Bangladeshi designs in Bangladesh and in the UK.
One investigator from the anti terrorist organization VIGIL has been spending a considerable amount of time in the Tower Hamlets area of London – an area synonymous with Bangladeshi immigration and (in world-famous Brick Lane) Bangladeshi restaurants. 33 percent of the Tower Hamlet’s inhabitants are of Bangladeshi origins. It’s a deprived area with high levels of unemployment (like South Croydon, the kind of void area Hizb ut Tahrir look to expand their “footsoldier” recruitment in) .
From her investigations of the area, it has become clear that Hizb ut Tahrir (1) are spending considerable sums of money recruiting Bangladeshi Muslims in the area (2) taking out whole-page, cash-paid Hizb ut Tahrir recruitment ads in Bangladeshi newspapers (which keep some of the papers going according to one editor) (3) inviting Bangladeshis to Hizb ut Tahrir study circles and events (4) telling Bangladeshis not to vote in local or national elections as this is against the principles of Islam (5) distributing inflammatory propaganda leaflets in the area daily, which aim to attract the youth (6) at meetings declaring the West and, in particular, British life as deviant and corrupt – declaring even the Brick Lane festival as an event which Muslims should not be seen at because of the free mixing and alcohol present (7) underlying the “great work” Hizb ut Tahrir is doing in Bangladesh – how their work there is a portent of the Hizb ut Tahrir sponsored caliphate to come there (8) taking considerable funds off Bangladeshi recruits (9) apologizing for their failure in the past to recognize Bangladeshi Muslims as equals (Hizb ut Tahrir Britain consists predominantly of Pakistani Muslims who, as a group, have a well-documented superiority complex over Bangladeshi Muslims) and are actively looking to elect a British, Bengali-speaking Bangladeshi to their visible British leadership (10) are aggressively engineering takeovers of cash-cow Bangladeshi mosques in the Tower Hamlets area (11) are fishing the Tower Hamlets Bangladeshi community for useful, particularly Bangladesh Nationalist Party, political connections and routes for infiltration (12) are openly rejecting integration into British society, underlying the superiority of “Muslim identity” and the irrelevance of British “kuffar” laws (13) are privately distributing radical Islamist literature amongst members of the Bangladeshi Diaspora in Tower Hamlets (14) are particularly “providing structures of support” (radicalizing) Bangladeshi Muslims from the community in or recently out of jail and (15) are discreetly attending study circles and seminars in well-known private premises, who have been made aware (16) reports are coming through UK Bangladeshis that terror training camps are now springing up in Bangladesh to which British Bangladeshis are being sent.
More worrying is the evidence uncovered on the area’s East London Youth Forum, which is operating as a front organization for Hizb ut Tahrir. The Youth Forum engages Muslim youths in activities ranging from hiking to paint-balling – activities, which on the face of it, their (often 18 hour working day) parents are happy to see them partake in. Only, when these youths are away, then Hizb ut Tahrir starts the brainwashing. Undercover Sunday Times journalists accompanied members of the group to one paint-balling session last September in Zulu wood, Manchester, where an imam present described Osama Bin Laden as a “Muslim brother” and said it was the “responsibility” of every Muslim to bring back the caliphate. Kasim Shafiq, 28, a senior member of Hizb ut Tahrir who was present, declared that Muslims should not vote in British elections. “Our own shahadah [creed] tells us that the authority and law do not belong to the non-Muslims, so why are we going to vote for non-Muslims?” According to the Sunday Times, “The Asian group paid no attention to the 300 or so other players at the six-acre site, although they kept their voices down when, at the end of a game, the winning team called “Allahu Akbar [God is great]”. During one game, a player said: “I’ve been shot.” His team-mate replied: “Don’t worry, the shahid [martyr] never dies.”
Hizb ut Tahrir’s focus in search of its “elusive state” has swung away from the Central European states like Uzbekistan – for now. It is focused primarily on a takeover of Bangladesh, from within Bangladesh and using the financial and political muscle of the Bangladeshi population living abroad. Or as one Bangladeshi Tower Hamlets resident put it to VIGIL’s investigator, “Bangladesh is home to corruption and political violence – in that chaos, any vaguely ordered Islamist group with cash and influence coming from abroad could seem like the solution.”
What are the odds of Hizb ut Tahrir succeeding in taking over Bangladesh, when they’ve failed in the past in all their coup attempts?
On the one hand, they have a chance. If the Jamaat e Islami party can be sufficiently infiltrated, bought out and threatened by Hizb ut Tahrir, they are already the largest partner of the largest political party in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
On the other hand, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has already banned two radical Islamist parties in Bangladesh –the JMJB and the JMB – so a likely deal with a group which is clearly in the pockets of Hizb ut Tahrir seems unlikely, unless Hizb ut Tahrir have sufficiently infiltrated the BNP (which, according to a BNP source, they have not).
Moreover, other factors play against Hizb ut Tahrir. For one, Bangladesh has instituted a unique system of transfer of power; at the end of the tenure of the government, power is handed over to members of a civil society for three months, who run the general elections and transfer the power to elected representatives – it is unlikely, even in the current political crisis, that Hizb ut Tahrir would not be revealed during these three months as the force behind a government looking to come to power. As a party seeking the caliphate, and therefore an end to democracy in Bangladesh, the three months would reveal their illegal attempt, by deception, at ending Bangladesh’s popular parliamentary representative democratic republic.
Moreover, Bangladesh is surrounded by India on all sides except for a small border with Myanmar to the far southeast and the Bay of Bengal to the south. Bangladesh is heavily dependent on India for direct foreign investment and much trade. India will not sit idly by while an extremist sect (of any kind) attempts a state takeover – nor will the wider international community.
There are several reasons why extreme Islamists will find assuming power in Bangladesh like pushing water uphill. But the key reason is that Bangladesh just isn’t a very religious place, particularly amongst the upper, ruling classes. A very traditional group of mullahs have a monopoly over religious institutions and their staid, unimaginative, conservative approach has made religion rather passé. This dullness was encapsulated in the award-winning Bangladeshi film Matir Moina – homeopathy and prayers instead of antibiotics, punishments for using one’s left hand to write and grim sermons on the conviction needed for Islam all commonplace.
Hizb ut Tahrir is – according to one BNP (Bangladesh) source – more likely to face a ban in Bangladesh than get even the slightest grip on the reins of power. Once again, it seems, the people are just not ready (or unwise?) enough to want to return to the Middle Ages and embrace Hizb ut Tahrir’s idea of a Caliphate.
Perhaps the people can remember what it was like in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Perhaps they can remember the Islamist factions’ attempts at taking control in Algeria in the 1990’s – where, in a Monty Pythonesque series of events which shocked even Al Zawahiri – Islamist sects began declaring that only they held the absolute truth and so set about slaughtering anyone who didn’t believe in their particular version of Islam (to the point where one Islamist sect leader, who also happened to be an illiterate chicken farmer, gathered his six disciples and went around murdering everyone else because they were, so he said, the only seven people in the world who held the truth, so all others, according to the Qu’ran he couldn’t even read, must die). Or maybe they just see through a sham when they are faced by one. (At the last time of counting the population of Bangladesh was 147,365,352. That’s an awful lot of people for Hizb ut Tahrir to con – an awful lot of paint-balling trips).
Hizb ut Tahrir’s actions are once again a worry for states across the world. The conveyor belt to terrorism, which they are part of, is still rolling and remains active in far too many countries. While Hizb ut Tahrir is an ever-present danger in that it radicalizes youths who may well go onto more extreme things, in relation to this extreme sect taking over a state perhaps we should worry less – for Muslims the world over think they are unbearably ugly and understand exactly why they have to wear a mask.
Even Muslim extremists warn about Hizb ut Tahrir. In a website “HT exposed” set up to warn fellow Muslims about the group’s dangers, an extremist Muslim group warns:
In reaction to this loss of the Khilafa in 1924 there arose many Islamic groups who claim to be fulfilling the obligation of working for the return of the Islamic State. Amongst these groups is one known as the “Hizb-ut-Tahrir.” This group has been the cause of many of the youth being led astray, indoctrinated in false Islamic beliefs and fooled by false methodology. By this, they fall into those who maybe included in those astray sects who will be punished in the Fire of Jahannam, as made clear from the following aayah and hadeeth. “And whoever contends with and contradicts the Messenger after guidance has been clearly conveyed to him, and chooses a path other than that of the faithful believers (the companions and those that follow them in faith), We shall leave him in the Path he has chosen and land him in Hell, what an evil refuge” [Surah An-Nisa 4:115] “And this Ummah will divide into seventy-three sects, all of which except one will go to Hell and they (i.e. the saved sect) are those who follow what I and My Companions are upon.” [Hasan Hadeeth, At Tirmidhee]. In particular they take a opinion on aahad narrations which is in opposition to the understanding of the scholars of the salaf, and they seek to confuse the youth by playing with words and their meanings, as will be made clear insha’Allah. We sincerely advise our brethren that maybe confused by these people to not let their eloquent speech confuse you. To the callers who call to misguidance after having the truth made clear, we remind you that the Fire of Jahannam is no joke.”
But let the last word go to Hanif Qadir, a moderate Muslim leader in East London who confirmed that Hizb ut Tahrir targeted “vulnerable young teenagers”, adding, “They can’t see the damage they cause to the Muslim community. If you want Sharia, then go and ask for it in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.”
Bangladesh, you must nonetheless be wary. Here’s a tip – you are not called “Ban”gladesh for nothing. #
First published in Global Politician, March 16, 2007
Dominic Whiteman is spokesperson for the London-based VIGIL anti-terrorist organization – an international network of terror trackers, including former intelligence officers, military personnel and experts ranging from linguistic to banking experts. He’s currently the Editor of Westminster Journal
Posted by Saleem Samad at Friday, April 23, 2010