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HuJi men holed up in other militant groups

HuJi men holed up in other militant groups
Governments turned blind eye to the outfit after its first press conference in Dhaka, top leaders untraced
Zayadul Ahsan

Despite the ban on the Harkatul Jihad Al Islami (HuJi), police think it will be very difficult to catch its militants as the group members have merged with other terrorist organisations and its top leaders either disappeared or joined one of the minor Islamic partner of the coalition government.

The HuJi men who fought in Afghanistan joined Jamaatul Mujahidin, Bangladesh (JMB), Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), Shahadat Al Hikma, Ahle Hadith and a number of Arakan rebel groups as trainers in armed combat after 2000 following a crackdown on them. A number of their top leaders are now holing up in the different Middle Eastern countries.

The organisation has also opened a number of militant groups which have not been banned yet.

A senior intelligence officer yesterday told The Daily Star that they are yet to plan how to catch HuJi members as they do not come to the open.

But many, especially those in the media, recall how HuJi first came to light at the heart of the capital years back.

Wearing fatigues, the militant leaders sat shoulder to shoulder at the Jatiya Press Club and boastfully described how they fought in the Afghan war. They demanded that Bangladesh be turned into an Islamic state.

The group, for the first time came to light as HuJi, then paraded through the Dhaka streets a day later after Jumma prayers to claim victory over the Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

These happened in 1992. In 2002, the US blacklisted HuJi as an international terrorist organisation. It took the government three more years to ban it Tuesday after much denial of its existence in Bangladesh.

The US went one step forward to blacklist the Bangladesh chapter of HuJi in 2003, but the government’s denial continued as Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan then said he had not seen “any activity of such organisation in Bangladesh”.

Lawmakers of Jamaat-e-Islami, whose link with the militants is now becoming evident following bomb blasts, also denied HuJi’s existence in Bangladesh.

As mentioned in yesterday’s issue, Jamaat lawmaker Riasat Ali Biswas told parliament on September 11: “Reports of militant training of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkatul Jihad to turn Bangladesh into an Islamic state are nothing but propaganda.”

And under such lenience and denials, HuJi spread its wing in madrassas, set up training camps in the hill tracts and carried out killing attempts including that on former prime minister Sheikh Hasina and poet Shamsur Rahman.

The militant leaders who attended the 1992 press conference — Abdus Salam, president of HuJi Bangladesh, field commander Manzur Hasan, Dhaka city unit president Maolana Delwar Hossain, publicity secretary Mufti Shafiqur Rahman, Maolana Mufti Abdul Hye — remain untraced. Forty-one of the HuJi men arrested at a Cox’s Bazar training camp with arms in 1996 and sentenced to life-term, were released on bail after the coalition government came to power.

Only Mufti Hannan, a central committee member of HuJi, who rose to a top rank has been arrested on October 1.

At the 1992 press conference, HuJi leaders in sleeveless olive war jackets over traditional Kabul dresses and ash traditional Afghan caps detailed its international link, which was overlooked by the successive governments including that of the Awami League.

HuJi leader Obaidur Rahman Nadvi read out a scripted statement at the press conference while a young Mujahidin commander, Manzur Hasan, replied to questions from reporters.

Manzur Hasan, who himself is an Afghan war veteran, told the reporters that Bangladeshi youths went to Pakistan on study and tourist visas and joined Jihad (holy war) in Afghanistan.

HuJi said the first Bangladeshi Mujahidin group was formed by commander Abdur Rahman in 1984, who later died in 1989 in the Afghan war.

Describing Bangladeshi militants contribution to the Afghan war, the HuJi leaders said Bangladeshi mujahidins made great contributions to the wars in Urgun, Gazni, Khost, Gardez, Jalalabad, Panshir, Kabul, Kandahar and Heerat.

The HuJi leaders asked then BNP government to recognise the Muhajidin government in Afghanistan and send all necessary aid to the war-torn Afghanistan.

They also demanded of the government to show appropriate respect to the Bangladeshi ‘martyrs’ in Afghan war and establish a complete Islamic state in Bangladesh.

A list of Bangladeshi ‘martyrs’ in Afghan war between May 10, 1989 and April 7, 1992 were given in the press conference.

1. Commander Abdur Rahman Faruki, Jessore
2. Maolana Nurul Karim, Jessore
3. Hafez Motiur Rahman, Gazipur
4. Hafez Abdul Momen, Momenshahi (Mymensing)
5. Maolana Quamruzzaman, Jessore
6. Raihan Uddin, Gazipur
7. Maolana Sheikh Ismail, Gazipur
8. Maolana Abdul Matin, Faridpur
9. Badrul Alam, Faridpur
10. Hafez Rahmat Ullah, Dhaka
11. Maolana Abdul Hamid, Momenshahi (Mymensing)
12. Saifullah, Barisal
13. Mosharraf Hossain, Comilla
14. Rabiullah, Dhaka
15. Professor Rafiqullah, Noakhali
16. Siddiqullah Chowdhury, Noakhali
17. Mufti Obaidullah, B, Baria
18. Nurul Islam, Khulna
19. Mohammad Faruk, Khulna
20. Abdullah, Khulna
21. Nurul Islam, Bogra
22. Faizullah, Noakhali
23. Abdul Gafur, Chittagong
24. Mohammad Ali, Barisal.

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