Militant Ansarullah Bangla Team to be banned

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Rozina Islam | May 22, 2015

The government has decided to ban the militant Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) under the anti-terrorism act. The paper work is complete and the home ministry make an official announcement in a day or two, prohibiting the outfit.

In 2005, the government banned  Harkatul Jihad Al Islam, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), Jamaatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB), Harkatul Jihad Al Islami Bangladesh (HuJi B) and Shahadat Al Hikmat.

Hizbut Tahrir was also banned in 2009.

According to a police report sent to the home ministry, Ansarullah Bangla team is known worldwide as a large terrorist organisation. JMB and Harkatul Jihad come next. They follow the ideology of Al-Qaeda.

Home ministry sources said, police headquarters sent a letter last week to the ministry requesting to ban Ansarullah Bangla Team under Article 18 of the anti-terrorism act.

State minister for home affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told Prothom Alo,  the organisation has been found involved in several incidents. Police also said they (ABT) were threatening and killing writers, bloggers, and cultural persons. The minister said, “We have decided to ban the organisation following a police investigation report.”

It was said that the embargo on the organisation was slammed after they threatened to kill 10 people including the vice chancellor, four teachers of Dhaka University, political advisor of the prime minister and spokesman of Ganajagaran Mancha.

‘Al-Qaeda-Ansarullah Bangla-13’ sent the threatening letters by post on Wednesday.

Security analyst Air Commodore (retd) Ishfaque Elahi Chowdhury told Prothom Alo, “It is surprising that the militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team hasn’t been banned till now. They should have been brought to justice through speedy trial tribunal immediately after blogger Rajib’s murder. Their website is still operative and instigative statements were being delivered.”

Ishfaque Chowdhury said the problem won’t be solved by announcing a ban. The law enforcement agencies should be active and show zero tolerance for them. People should be made aware of them through educational institutions and seminars. Islamic Foundation should also play a role.

The letter sent to the home ministry by the police said Ansarullah Bangla team was an active militant organisation. It started expanding in 2013. The motive of the militant organisation was to spread jihad by motivating the youth of Bangladesh with radical ideology. The organisation also uses mosques for their motivation. The main target of their attack were intellectuals, bloggers, and cultural personalities.

The report said police had arrested 30 militants including one of the leaders Mufti Jasim Uddin who was planning to attack a mosque in Barguna on 12 August, 2013.

Blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar was killed by the members of the militant group on 15 February, 2013. Police arrested five people suspected of being involved in the incident. They later confessed their involvement in the court.

The militants also attacked blogger Asif Mohiuddin on 14 January and Saniur Rahman on 7 March in 2013.

The group then attacked US expatriate and founder of Mukta Mona blog Avijit Roy and his wife and hacked him to death on 26 February, 2015.

On 30 March, the militant group hacked another blogger Wasiqur Rahman to death.

Ansarullah Bangla Team has an active website where they promote the ideology of Al-Qaeda, give motivational write-ups through different blogs, broadcast audio-video speeches and discussions. Speeches and writings of different foreign militant leaders are also uploaded in the site in translated form.

The name Ansarullah Bangla Team has been taken from Ansar Ul Islam, the Al-Qaeda unit in Iraq. However, the Bangladesh group follows the principle of Yemen-based cleric Al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. The leader of the Al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula was killed in a US drone strike on 30 September, 2011.

Ansarullah Bangla Team started up in 2008 in various government and private universities of the country. The followers of the organisation would meet up at a mosque near the former campus of North South University in Banani.

They aimed to motivate English medium students and other following modern education systems, with their ideology. Later they started branched out into the social media, like facebook and blogs. At first the organisation did not had any proper name. Several sources said the members of the organisation use to call themselves followers of Al-Qaeda. The organisation was not in focus then as Hizbut Tahrir was active at the time.