In an article titled “Raman’s unproven accusation of Rohingya Muslims’ connections with Extremist Islamic Groups”, Dr Rifai Naleemi , a London-based columnist of the “Sri Lanka Guardian”, has strongly objected to my article of August 5,2012, on the infiltration of some Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar into India. He has been particularly unhappy over my references to the links of some Rohingyas with the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) of Bangladesh. His hard-hitting rejoinder to my article is available at http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2012/08/ramans-unproven-accusation-of-rohingya.html
2. He has said inter alia,at the beginning of his rejoinder: “ I have been reading Mr Raman’s articles in Sri Lanka Guardian. I really appreciate some of his writing and articles and yet, when it comes to Muslim Issues he seems to be connecting all problems with Islamic Extremists and Radical Groups, I ‘m really surprised and shocked that in this article he accused some Rahingya Muslims to have connection with some Extremist radical groups such as Al-Qaida and HUJI of Bangladesh. When you write some thing objectively you should have some substantiated evidence to prove what you have written. We should maintain the objectivities in our writing whether it is on Muslim issues or Non-Muslim issues.”
3. I would like to assure Dr.Naleemi that I pride myself on being a very objective analyst with no prejudice whatsoever against Muslims as a community or Islam as a religion. As a serving intelligence officer in December 1992, I criticised the Government’s failure to protect the Babri Masjid and I have written on more than one occasion, including in my books, that the demolition of the Babri Masjid saw the beginning of jihadi terrorism in India. I am also proud to have been the first analyst in India to have pointed out that the Malegaon blast could not have been carried out by jihadis as was being alleged by the police at that time and as then believed by most analysts.
4.This is not the first time I have written about the links of some Rohingyas with the HUJI (B). I had written about it in the past citing the evidence on the basis of which I said so. In this connection, I would like to draw attention to the following two articles of mine:
(a). Article of November 30,2005, titled SUICIDE JIHADI TERRORISM IN BANGLADESH available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers17%5Cpaper1631.html.
(b). Article of September 9,2011, titled SOME PAST ACTIVITIES OF HUJI ( B ) IN INDIA available at http://ramanstrategicanalysis.blogspot.in/2011/09/some-past-activities-of-huji-b-in-india.html
5. For easy reference, the texts of these articles are annexed below. ( 6-8-12)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )
Text of article of November 30,2005, titled SUICIDE JIHADI TERRORISM IN BANGLADESH
If senior police officials of Bangladesh are to be believed, suicide/suicidal jihadi terrorism, which first made its appearance in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and from there spread to the Jammu & Kashmir State of India, has now infected Bangladesh.
2. According to police accounts, ten persons, two of them police officers, were killed and 21 others seriously injured in two explosions believed to have been triggered off by suspected suicide bombers more or less at the same time at two different towns---in the south-eastern port city of Chittagong and at Gazipur near Dhaka on November 29, 2005. The improvised explosive devices used in both the incidents have been described by the police as unsophisticated home-made bombs triggered off by human carriers.
3. In the Chittagong incident, the suspected terrorist threw a bomb into a court and then reportedly blew himself up near a police outpost set up for the security of the court. The suspected suicide bomber and two police officers were killed. Another suicide bomber survived with serious injuries.
4. In the Gazipur incident, a suicide bomber dressed as a lawyer entered the office of the local bar association without being properly checked by the security guard and set off the explosion. The bomber himself and six other died----five on the spot and two others in a hospital.
5. The incidents of November 29, 2005, have come in the wake of other recent targeted attacks on lawyers and members of the judiciary, which have been attributed by the police to the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM), a pro-Taliban, Wahabi organisation, which was banned by the Bangladesh authorities in February, 2005. Another organisation banned at the same time is the Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB). Subsequently, the local authorities banned on October 15, 2005, the local branch of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), whose headquarters are located in Pakistan. The ban on the HUJI followed reported British action against the organisation following the London explosions of July, 2005, and the arrest of its long-absconding operational commander Mufti Abdul Hannan by the Bangladesh Police on October 1, 2005.
6. The HUJI of Bangladesh, normally referred to as HUJI (B), had played an active role in the jihad against the Soviet and Afghan troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Its members studied in the Pakistani madrasas and fought as members of different Afghan mujahideen groups, after having been trained by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The HUJI (B) also recruited a number of Rohingya Muslims from the Arakan area of Myanmar and took them to Afghanistan for fighting against the Soviet and Afghan troops.
7.The following 24 Bangladeshi/Rohingya Mujahideen died during the jihad in Afghanistan: Commander Abdur Rahman Faruki, Jessore; Maolana Nurul Karim, Jessore; Hafez Motiur Rahman, Gazipur; Hafez Abdul Momen, Momenshahi (Mymensing); Maolana Quamruzzaman, Jessore; Raihan Uddin, Gazipur; Maolana Sheikh Ismail, Gazipur; Maolana Abdul Matin, Faridpur; Badrul Alam, Faridpur; Hafez Rahmat Ullah, Dhaka; Maolana Abdul Hamid, Momenshahi (Mymensing); Saifullah, Barisal; Mosharraf Hossain, Comilla; Rabiullah, Dhaka; Professor Rafiqullah, Noakhali; Siddiqullah Chowdhury, Noakhali; Mufti Obaidullah, B. Baria; Nurul Islam, Khulna; Mohammad Faruk, Khulna; Abdullah, Khulna; Nurul Islam, Bogra; Faizullah, Noakhali; Abdul Gafur, Chittagong; and Mohammad Ali, Barisal.
8. After the fall of the Najibullah Government in Kabul in April, 1992, and the capture of power by the Afghan mujahideen, the Bangladeshi HUJI leaders held a press conference at the Jatiya Press Club of Dhaka on April 30, 1992, to inform the people of Bangladesh about their contribution to the success of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and to announce their plans for a similar jihad in Bangladesh. Among those, who addressed the press conference wearing olive green dress were: Obaidur Rahman Nadvi, whose designation was not given, Abdus Salam, who was introduced as the President of HUJI Bangladesh, field commander Manzur Hasan, Dhaka city unit President Maolana Delwar Hossain, Publicity Secretary Mufti Shafiqur Rahman and Maolana Mufti Abdul Hye. Thereafter, the HUJI remained quite active till 1996, when 41 of its cadres were arrested by the police at a secret training camp in Cox's Bazar with arms and ammunition, but they were subsequently released on bail. All of them went underground. In February, 1998, the HUJI (B) joined Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad against the Crusaders and the Jewish People as one of its founding members. Since then, the Bangladesh authorities were not able to trace and arrest any of its office-bearers despite reports of their involvement in many terrorist incidents, including an unsuccessful attempt to kill Sheikh Hasina, former Prime Minister. The October 1, 2005, arrest of Mufti Hannan is the first important arrest of an absconding HUJI leader by the local police.
9. Surprisingly, the Bangladesh authorities have not so far shown any interest in having his role in the unsuccessful attack on Sheikh Hasina investigated and in having him prosecuted. Instead, they have been highlighting his suspected role in the the large-scale serial blasts of August 17, 2005, and in the subsequent terrorist strikes against lawyers and judges. While making a pretence of vigorous action to trace, arrest and prosecute those involved in the terrorist incidents of August 17, 2005, and thereafter, which were directed against government and judicial targets, they have been avoiding any vigorous investigation of terrorist strikes against Sheikh Hasina and other political opponents of the present Government.
10. The terrorist incidents since August 17, 2005, have fallen into the following pattern:
Targeted attacks against Government buildings and public places using low-grade explosives in miniscule quantities in such a manner as not to cause large-scale human fatalities.
Targeted attacks against lawyers and judges using stronger explosives in larger quantities in order to cause human fatalities.
Faxed threats of attacks against the US, British and other Western diplomatic missions sent by someone under the name of Al Qaeda in South Asia.
11. The local police have largely blamed the JUM for the first two types of incidents. They have not yet been able to establish who is behind the faxed threats against Western diplomatic missions-----whether these were hoax messages or whether there is something more serious in them. Interestingly, similar threats of terrorist strikes against the Chinese diplomatic mission and Chinese touristic and financial centres in Hong Kong and other parts of China have been circulating in Pakistan. However, there is so far no evidence to connect the two.
12. The JUM, which calls for the Talibanisation of Bangladesh and the imposition of the Sharia, has been targeting the lawyers and judges as representing the Western, non-Islamic judicial system presently in force in the country. Another apparent reason for its targeting the lawyers and the judiciary is to intimidate them into giving bail for 400 of its followers so far rounded up by the Police for their suspected involvement in terrorism. Even though it has been critical of the US-led occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, it did not target any Western diplomatic missions in Dhaka in its widespread terrorist strikes of August 17, 2005.
13. There is a hotch-potch of jihadi terrorist groups operating in different parts of Bangladesh. Apart from the two banned in February and the HUJI, some of the others are the Ahle Hadith Andolan, the Shahadat Al Hikma, and a number of Arakan rebel groups. A Rohingya group, which was originally formed by Pakistan-based Maulana Abdul Quddus and which had participated in the Afghan jihad along with HUJI (B), is now projecting itself as the HUJI, Myanmar. There is similarly a HUJI, Pattani, which claims to be behind the jihad in Southern Thailand. Particulars of its leadership are not available.
14. During his interrogation by the Police, Mufti Hannan is reported to have denied any involvement in jihadi terrorism and blamed the Ahle Hadith Andolan for the terrorist incidents in Bangladesh. The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) has also opened a branch in Bangladesh, but it has not so far come to notice for any involvement in acts of terrorism in Bangladesh territory. It confines its activities to providing logistic support to the operations of the LET in Indian Territory from its sanctuaries in Bangladesh.
15. Apart from Hannan, the Bangladesh Police has not so far been able to arrest any of the important leaders of these organisations. Their command and control remains intact. The reluctance of the Government of Bangladesh to act effectively against the mushrooming Wahabi terrorist groups is facilitating the growth in Bangladesh of a jihadi terrorist infrastructure similar to what prevailed in Afghanistan before 9/11. This could pose a serious threat to peace and security in the belt extending from India's North-East to Southern Thailand.
Text of article of September 9, 2011 titled SOME PAST ACTIVITIES OF HUJI ( B ) IN INDIA
It has been reported that two claims of responsibility have been received by the investigating authorities in the wake of the explosion outside the Delhi High Court on September 7,2011. Both claims have been made through E-mails sent from cyber cafes. The first E-mail purports to be from the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the second from the Indian Mujahideen (IM). The authenticity of the two E-mails has not so far been established.
2. The HUJI, which came into existence during the Afgfhan jihad against the Soviet troops in the 1980s, has a presence in Pakistan as well as Bangladesh. The Pakistani branch is referred to by terrorism experts as HUJI and the Bangladesh branch as HUJI ( B ).
3.The HUJI, with which Ilyas Ibrahim of the so-called 313 Brigade used to be associated, was active in Jammu & Kashmir, but not in Indian territory outside J&K. HUJI (B) was active in the Indian territory outside J&K, but not in J & K.
4.The Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Police, which investigated two explosions at a Hindu temple and a local railway station at Varanasi on March 7,2006, announced on April 5,2006, that its investigation had established that the two explosions were carried out by three terrorists of the HUJI (B), with local help provided by one Walilullah, the Imam of a mosque at Phulpur in Allahabad, and five other Indian Muslims.
5.While Walilullah and the five other Indian Muslims, who had helped the three terrorists from Bangladesh, were arrested, the three terrorists, who actually carried out the explosions, managed to escape to Bangladesh after carrying out the terrorist strikes. Twenty innocent civilians were killed in the two explosions. The UP Police described Walilullah as the Eastern UP Area Commander of HUJI (B).
6.In a confessional statement, Walilullah reportedly cited the demolition of the Babri Masjid in UP in December 1992 by a Hindu mob and the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in February,2002, as the reasons for the terrorist strikes against the temple and at the railway station. He projected the twin blasts as acts of reprisal terrorism. He gave the names of the three persons, who came from Bangladesh to carry out the explosions, as Bashiruddin alias Bashir,Mustafiz and Zakaria, all Bangladeshi nationals. According to his version, they had studied along with him at the Deoband seminary in UP some years ago and he had been in touch with them since then.
7.Walilullah had once been arrested by the Allahabad Police in 2001 on suspicion of his links with the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) of Pakistan. He was released after eight months without being prosecuted. Bashiruddin took him to Bangladesh in June 2004 and introduced him to one Maulana Asadullah of HUJI (B), who enrolled him into the organisation and appointed him as its Area Commander for Eastern UP.
8. The other five Indian Muslims arrested were Syed Shuib and Farhaan (Lucknow), Mohammad Rizwan Siddiqui and Mohammad Saad Ali (Amroha) and Shahid (Allahabad). They were working in a power loom in Bhiwandi near Mumbai. All the arrested Indian Muslims were reported to have confessed that they had visited Pakistan via Bangladesh for training in jihadi terrorism, organised by Maulana Asadullah.
9. A child was killed in an explosion in Varanasi on December 7, 2010, a day after the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. An e-mailed message purporting to be from the IM--- carrying the December 6 dateline, but sent on December 7--- claimed responsibility for the attack. It projected the attack as in reprisal against a court judgement relating to the ownership of the land on which the Babri Masjid stood. The Muslims felt aggrieved by the judgement which they saw as based on Hindu religious beliefs and not on provable evidence. They expressed their determination to have it set aside by a higher court.
10.Incidents of violence were feared by the UP police on the day the judgement was delivered by the court, but nothing untoward happened. A delayed violent act of reprisal came on December 7, 2010, from unidentified elements claiming to be from the IM. The message purporting to be from the IM expressed the determination of the IM to keep up its fight on the Babri Masjid issue.
11.The HUJI (B) came into existence in 1992 after the Afghan Mujahideen captured power in Kabul in April,1992, after overthrowing the then Afghan President Najibullah. It was set up by a group of Bangladeshi nationals, who had fought against the forces of the Najibullah Government after having undergone jihadi training in Pakistan. The formation of the HUJI (B) was announced at a press conference in April 1992 by a group of Afghan war veterans. It was projected as a successor to a first Bangladeshi Mujahideen group that had been formed in 1984 by Commander Abdur Rahman, for fighting against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. He later reportedly died in the Afghan War in 1989.
12.Instructors from the HUJI (B) used to be attached to the training camps of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) near the Tirupura border. It was suspected that the attack on the security guards outside the US Consulate at Kolkata in January,2002, was orchestrated by HUJI (B), in collaboration with the JEM and the Lashkar-e-Toiba, under the name the Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF). Aftab Ansari alias Aftab Ahmed alias Farhan Malik, the prime accused in the attack, was in touch not only with the office-bearers of these organisations in Pakistan, but also with Omar Sheikh, who had masterminded the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist.
13. While there has so far been no evidence of institutional contacts between the HUJI (B ) and the IM, some members of the Muslim community in UP had facilitated the terrorist strikes of HUJI ( B ) in Varanasi in March 2006. The present contacts of HUJI ( B ) in India---particularly in UP -- need to be re-examined in the light of the nine terrorist strikes since 26/11 which have remained undetected. ( 9-9-11)