LEADER: Shauqat Osman
YEAR ESTABLISHED OR BECAME ACTIVE: 1992
ESTIMATED SIZE: 3,000
USUAL AREA OF OPERATION: Bangladesh
Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) is headed by Shauqat Osman, and is a member of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF), and operates from Bangladesh. The U.S. State Department refers to it as HUJI-B or HUJI (B) to differentiate it from the Pakistan-based Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami (HUJI) led by Amin Rabbani.
HUJI-B seeks to ensure that Islamic rule prevails in Bangladesh. Of the many Islamic groups in Bangladesh, HUJI-B is considered by most analysts to be the most powerful and influential.
HUJI-B claims its history dates to establishment in 1992 as a faction of the more prominent Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami (HuJI) based in Pakistan. However, the group has been active only since 2000. According to published U.S. State Department reports, as of 2005, the group consists of approximately 15,000 members, possibly even more. The self-proclaimed leader of the group, Shauqat Osman, is also known as Maulana, or Sheikh Farid, and operates out of Chittagong, Bangladesh.
At its inception, primary funding for the group was allegedly provided by Osama bin Laden. The group is now thought to derive a majority of its additional funding from Bangladeshi madrassas (Islamic religious schools). Most of the members of the organization have been students in these schools. The group mainly recruits Bangladeshi natives as its members and trains them extensively at local camps. Many trainees are also reportedly sent to terrorist camps based in other countries.
In the past, the group referred to itself as the Bangladeshi Talibans (derived from the more well-known Taliban in Afghanistan). HUJI-B, since early 2000, is thought by Western intelligence services and monitoring groups to have close ties with Islamic extremist groups that operate in the neighboring Indian states of West Bengal and Assam. Analysts assert that they have deep links with Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's external intelligence agency. Many experts argue that HUJI-B also encourages terrorist activities in the northeast frontier of India. The group is also reported to have helped in recruiting militants to conduct terrorist activities in the troubled territories of Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir.
Published reports provide evidence that HUJI-B has established and maintained at least six militant camps in Bangladesh, where it is actively conducting training sessions. Since its founding, HUJI-B members have consistently infiltrated into India through its eastern border. The prime reason for such activities, as alleged by the Indian government, is to maintain contacts and to conduct further illegal activities with the terrorist organizations operating within India.
In its short time of operation, HUJI-B has been the primary suspect of many extremist and terrorist activities in Bangladesh, and the group has taken credit for multiple bombings, assassination attempts, and murders of prominent personalities. The group participated in the killing of noted Bangladeshi journalist, Shamsur Rahman, in 2000. He was murdered for making a documentary on the plight of Hindus (followers of the religion Hinduism) in Bangladesh. Ramman's writing was considered against the philosophies of HUJI-B, and so he was consequently "punished" for his action.
Following the arrest of several HUJI-B members, the Bangladeshi intelligence gathered and released reports that HUJI-B purported to murder at least twenty-eight influential academicians and scholars, including Professor Kabir Choudhury (a well-known national professor in Bangladesh), controversial writer, Taslima Nasreen, and the Director General of the Islamic Foundation, Maulana Abdul Awal, as the terrorist group claimed that these liberalist scholars were the "enemies of Islam."
In July 2000, an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was organized by the group. It has also claimed responsibility for conducting many other extremist and/or terrorist operations.
PHILOSOPHY AND TACTICS
HUJI-B aims at establishing Islamic rule in Bangladesh by eliminating opposing thinkers, journalists, and Bangladeshi politicians. Osama bin Laden and the Taliban regime are the key sources of inspiration for HUJI-B's ideology. In fact, the group is reported to have sent some of its members to Afghanistan to receive training under the patronage of seasoned al-Qaeda and Taliban members.
Every new recruit to this group is compelled to follow the hardcore Islamic doctrine of jihad (holy war). The group condemns all non-Muslim ideologies and propagates Islamic supremacy in Bangladesh. Analysts claim that the infrastructure at some of the militant camps of HUJI-B is said to be on a par with the best military training schools in the world.
To promote its philosophy, HUJI-B has in the past adopted violent tactics. The HUJI-B often spreads fear to enforce its philosophy. In November 2004, the HUJI-B issued an ultimatum to the Hindus in Bangladesh that they must convert to Islam in seven days or be prepared to die. Moreover, HUJI-B proclamations went on to declare that all non-Muslim individuals residing in Bangladesh should be prepared to be annihilated as they have no right to live in a Muslim country. For these reasons, HUJI-B is considered to be an Islamic extremist group aiming at coercing non-Muslims (especially Hindus and Christians) to embrace Islam and if they refuse to do so, the group members have not hesitated to commit gruesome murders, gang rapes, and other atrocities.
Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami Bangladesh is headed by Shauqat Osman, who is also occasionally referred to as Maulana or Sheikh Farid. Osman, like many other members of the group, is thought to be greatly influenced by Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. He has reportedly, often, denounced non-Muslim religions in public. Analysts state that he has also frequently expressed vehement disregard for India and United States. However, most experts agree that Osman and other leaders of the HUJI-B are rather secretive about their mission and objectives.
The group's general secretary is Imtiaz Quddus. Very little is known about these two and other prominent members of this group.
The HUJI-B borrows its philosophy from a number of other terrorist and extremist organizations. One such organization is the Jihad Movement of Bangladesh (JIB), led by Fazlur Rahman. Fazlur Rahman was one of the signatories of the Declaration of War on America, along with Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al Zawahiri, Abu-Yasir Rifa'i Ahmad Taha, both from Egypt, and Shaykh Mir Hamzah of Pakistan—as of 2005—some of the most wanted terrorists in the world.
Apart from the JIB, HUJI-B is alleged to have strong links with other terrorist and extremist organizations including, but not limited to, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), the Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF), the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), Roshingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), Harakat ul-Mudjahidin (HuM), as well as al-Qaeda.
The exchange of knowledge as well as personnel amongst HUJI-B and some of these groups is common practice. In July 1992, about 150 armed men belonging to the Taliban and al-Qaeda were reported to have been transported to Bangladesh from Afghanistan and Pakistan. After the fall of Kandahar (a major city in Afghanistan) in 2001, another fifty trained terrorists shifted their base to Bangladesh. The ISI of Pakistan has also, allegedly, moved its base from Pakistan to Bangladesh to refocus its war against India. Analysts argue that HUJI-B with its power and influence supports anti-minorities activities undertaken by other Islamic extremist organizations.
Alex Perry, the South Asian bureau chief of the Time Magazine, mentioned in an article that, according to a HUJI-B insider, the ultimate dream of Islamic extremists is to create an Islamic land larger than Bangladesh, by taking over the Muslim-dominated areas of Assam, Bengal (states in India), and Myanmar.
In the article, "Is religious extremism on the rise in Bangladesh?" published by the Jane's Intelligence Review in May 2002, Bertil Lintner (cited as an expert on Southeast Asia), expressed concern over the present condition of Bangladesh and the Islamic extremist activities flourishing over there. He considered the activities of organizations, including that of HUJI-B, "worrisome," and pointed toward the alarming shift in the idea of a role model for the young men of Bangladesh. He states in the article that many young men in Bangladesh consider leaders of groups such as HUJI-B as their role models. According to them, these are "dedicated Islamic clerics."
- HUJI-B is subsequently charged with a plot to assassinate Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
- HUJI-B members involved in a series of blasts involving deaths of minorities at several locations.
- Sixty-three representatives of nine Islamic Extremist groups unite to form a council known as Bangladesh Islamic Manch, under the leadership of HUJI-B. The Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF), an ally of HUJI-B strikes the American Centre at Kolkata, India.
- A HUJI-B camp is uncovered in the interior hilly region of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Several weapons and military paraphernalia are seized.
- Ties between madrassas and HUJI-B are confirmed when Maulana Mohammed Habibur Rahman, headmaster of a prominent madrassa, admits visiting the HUJI camps in Pakistan, in 1998, along with eight other Muslim leaders.
Militant activities emerging from Islamic extremist groups have seen exponential rise in Bangladesh during past few years. As of 2005, Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami Bangladesh is backed by various influential terrorist groups, and hence its power has been on the rise at a rapid alarming rate. Opponents of such policies argue that the fact that non-Muslims are in the minority and the Bangladesh government has declared Islam as the state religion has done nothing to help the plight of minorities in Bangladesh. HUJI-B actions evidence a disregard for human rights and civil liberties—evident from ever-increasing crimes against minorities. Governments around the world, including the U.S. government, strongly condemn such acts and have labeled HUJI-B as a terrorist organization.
Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B)
The mission of HUJI-B, led by Shauqat Osman, is to establish Islamic rule in Bangladesh. HUJI-B has connections to the Pakistani militant groups Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami (HUJI) and Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM), which advocate similar objectives in Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir. These groups all maintain contacts with the al-Qa'ida network in Afghanistan. The leaders of HUJIB and HUM both signed the February 1998 fatwa sponsored by Usama bin Ladin that declared American civilians to be legitimate targets for attack.
HUJI-B was accused of stabbing a senior Bangladeshi journalist in November 2000 for making a documentary on the plight of Hindus in Bangladesh. HUJI-B was suspected in the assassination attempt in July 2000 of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The group may also have been responsible for indiscriminate attacks using improvised explosive devices against cultural gatherings in Dhaka in January and April 2001.
Some estimates of HUJI-B cadre strength suggest several thousand members.
The group operates and trains members in Bangladesh, where it maintains at least six camps.
Funding of the HUJI-B comes primarily from madrassas in Bangladesh. The group also has ties to militants in Pakistan that may provide another funding source.
Source: U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Terrorism. Washington, D.C., 2004.
Kepel, Gilles. Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2003.
Perry, Alex. "Deadly Cargo." Time. October 14, 2002.
Asia Times Online. "Goons or Terrorists? Bangladesh Decides." 〈http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/GC10Df04.html〉 (accessed October 16, 2005).
Federation of American Scientists. "Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) (Movement of Islamic Holy War)." 〈http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/huji-b.htm〉 (accessed October 16, 2005).
South Asia Analysis Group. "Bangladeshi 〈http://www.saag.org/papers9/paper887.html〉 (accessed October 16, 2005).