Young people being motivated towards militancy thru internet

Md Esaraf Hossain

16th March, 2018 01:23:07 printer

Young people being motivated towards 
militancy thru internet

Bangladeshi youngsters, mostly school, college, madrasa and university students, are being re motivated to join militancy through internet, according to detective sources.

Militant kingpins who went  into hiding in the face of massive crackdown by law enforcers are now using internet to inspire young people to join militancy, a detective official said.

He said militants belonging to different banned outfits, including Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), HuJi and Ansarullah Bangla Team, are engaged in radicalising youths.

According to police record, about 82 percent of the youngsters are being motivated towards militancy through internet.

After conducting a survey on over 700 arrested militants, it was found that about 82 percent of them have been radicalised through internet.

Moniruzzaman, an assistant inspector general of police at police headquarters, recently disclosed the figure at an international police conference.

Meanehile, investigators have claimed that a ‘sleeper cell’ of Ansarullah Bangla Team’, believed to have been involved in killing several prominent writers and bloggers, was behind the knife attack on Prof Muhammed Zafar Iqbal on Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) campus.

Attacker Foyzur Rahman had also been motivated towards militant activities through internet, detective sources said.

According to the investigators, Foyzur, a follower of salafism, had four Facebook accounts. He was self-radicalised online.

While visiting one of the suspected accounts named Md Atiqur Bin Foyez, various pro-militancy materials were found there.

Investigators suspects Foyzur might have links with Ansar Al Islam. He also might have used different encrypted cell phone applications for communicating with other members of the militant outfit.

Moniruzzaman said a number of the followers of salafism initially joined Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), another militant outfit, but later switched to Ansar Al Islam.

About two weeks ago, members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested two suspected militants Nuruzzaman Labu and Nazmul Islam Shawon from the capital’s Tejgaon area.

In the face of the RAB interrogation, the arrested confessed that they had been radicalised to militant activities through internet.

As an organiser, they have already radicalised at least 40 to 50 youths to militancy through using internet.

RAB Director (media) Wing Commander Mufti Mahmud Khan said, in the face of massive crackdown by law enforcers, especially RAB, the entire network of the militant outfits had been collapsed.

The scattered militants are now reportedly trying to be organised and set up their network again, the RAB director said.  The militants have been working hard to reorganise their fellow men through internet, including social network “Facebook”.

In such a situation, RAB has intensified its intelligent monitoring.

According to the law enforcers, youngsters have been motivated towards militancy from both the home and foreign countries like Pakistan through online, RAB said.

Recently, police have claimed that the two Bangladeshi sisters, who were arrested for attacking a man in Australia and a policeman in Dhaka’s Mirpur area in separate incidents, were self-radicalised through the internet.

Momena Shoma, 24, the eldest among the two, was motivated by watching videos on militant activities including those of al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS), Monirul Islam, chief of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit (CTTC), told journalists at his office recently.

Misinterpretation of the Quran is another reason behind their attacks, Monirul said. Her young sister Asmaul Husna alias Sumona, 22, followed suit, Monirul said.

Momena got psychologically “derailed” after her mother’s death in 2015, he said.

She had a plan to conduct an attack in Australia in February even before she left Bangladesh for Melbourne on February 1 on a student visa, the CTTC chief said quoting information obtained from Australian Federal Police and open sources.

She was staying there renting a room in the 56-year-old’s Mill Park home.

And as part of the plan, she stabbed the man in the neck in his sleep in North Melbourne on February 10.

Australian police described it as an “Islamic State-inspired” attack.

After arresting her from the scene, Momena was charged for the stabbing.

Before leaving for Australia, Momena instructed her younger sister Asmaul to embrace martyrdom by killing at least one policeman in Bangladesh, Monirul said.

Following her elder sister’s instruction, Asmaul attacked a member of police with a knife when the law enforcers went to meet her at her Kazipara house in Dhaka to conduct an inquiry about Momena.

However, the police member survived the attack unscathed.

During a police interrogation, Asmaul admitted to her involvement with “Neo-JMB”, an offshoot of the banned militant outfit (JMB), according to police.

Momena was supposed to get married to Marine Engineer Najibullah Ansari, who stopped communicating with his family since January in 2015 after he allegedly went to Iraq to join ISIS, police said.

A senior official of counter terrorism unit of police said many contents inscribed with various radical slogans written in Bengali, English, Arabic and Urdu are being uploaded to the websites of different militant outfits, facebook and youtube regularly for motivating youngsters towards militancy. Audio and video messages with misinterpretation of Islam are also being uploaded to their web pages, the police officer added.

The militant outfits include Ansarullah Bangla Team. It continued its campaign under banner of Ansar Al Islam, Titumir Media, As-Sahab Media, Daya Ilalla Forum and Salauddiner Ghora.