Ansarullah sixth outlawed militant group

From now on, any open or secret activities of Ansarullah Bangla Team, believed to be an al-Qaeda proxy in Bangladesh, will be considered as anti-state after the government yesterday imposed ban on the radical Islamist outfit.

Following the decision, Ansarullah activists will not be allowed to hold meetings, processions or preach its ideologies. Such activities would be termed anti-state and the law enforcers would take legal action under the Anti-Terrorism Act, police say.

The government in 2013 planned to blacklist the group.

Emerged in 2007, Ansarullah – like many other militant and radical organisations of the country – aims at establishing Shariah law in the country.

According to detectives, objectives of Ansarullah include radicalisation of youths in the country, inciting active participation in a jihad and capturing power. The group targets youths having technological knowledge and radical mindset against democratic system and propagate jihadist ideology to guide terror attacks.

Its leaders use mosques, madrasas and religious events to propagate its views.

Ansarullah leaders and followers have been blamed for the killing of at least six secular activists since 2013. Its chief Mufti Jasim Uddin Rahmani, blessed by Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, has been in jail since 2013 and now undergoing trial for killing war crimes trial campaigner Ahmed Rajeeb Haider.

Rajeeb was killed by his followers, all expelled North South University students, allegedly for his anti-Islamic writings. The other victims too were branded as atheists after the murders.

The outfit is also responsible for giving threats on different times to kill secular bloggers, cultural activists and important personalities of the country.

The political wing of the Home Ministry yesterday issued a gazette notification on the government decision. The outfit has been banned under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

State Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the police had sent them a proposal last week to impose ban on the outfit as a number of allegations of violent activities proved against it.

Detectives suspect that Ansarullah is now working as Bangladesh representative of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), formed last year following al-Qaeda’s call to extend its activities in India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The previous BNP-Jamaat government outlawed Shahadat-e-al Hikma on February 9, 2003, Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) on February 23, 2005, and Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (Huji) on October 17, 2005.

The present government on October 22, 2009 banned Hizb ut-Tahrir. The same year, seven other organisations – Hizb-ut-Tawhid, Islami Samaj, Ulema Anjuman al Baiyinaat, Islamic Democratic Party, Tawhid Trust, Tamir ud-Deen and Alla’r Dal – were blacklisted.

In 2013, the government had thought of banning all the seven blacklisted groups and three others – Ansarullah Bangla Team, Shahadat-e-Nobuwat and Al Markajul al Islami.

All the other banned organisations are now working together with Ansarullah as they have the same goal, detectives say. Ansarullah also supports Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam as they want to establish Islamic rule, Rahmani had mentioned in his sermons.

The Bangladesh constitution recognises Islam as the state religion and allows religion-based politics. The Awami League-led government in 2011 reinstated secularism, first introduced in 1972, as one of the four pillars.

According to detectives, Ansarullah targets anyone – not only bloggers – who opposes its views, adding that the outfit has around 100 active members. The number of its supporters can be large. They work in small groups and conduct silent killings.

Ansarullah chief Rahmani was arrested on August 12, 2013 along with 31 members from Barguna for inciting jihad at mosques. Later he was removed from the post of chairman of Markazul Uloom Al-Islamia Madrasa’s management committee at Basila in Mohammadpur.

Five members of the group confessed to the murder of blogger-architect Rajeeb Haider on February 15, 2013. Another four were arrested for the attack on blogger Asif Mohiuddin. They also claimed responsibility for the murders of Avijit Roy, Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, Ananta Bijoy Das and Rajshahi University teacher Prof AKM Shafiul Islam.

Rahmani in his confessional statement mentioned that the students inspired by his sermons might have killed Rajeeb. His sermons are still available on websites and Facebook.

Monirul Islam, joint commissioner of the Detective Branch of police, said they were monitoring activities of the outfit and would arrest those involved with the group after locating them. 

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