A radical Islamist group with a very long standing history of terrorism, Jamaat-e-Islami, is wreaking havoc throughout South Asia under different Islamic names. This deadly malefactor murdering outfit has strong presence in Bangladesh because of the past military rulers – Gen Zia and Gen Ershad as well as the regime of their sidekicks – Begum Zia. Over the years, it has disrupted elections and staged violent demonstrations. In Pakistan recently, Jamaat was at the forefront of rallies demanding the death of Asia Bibi, a 53-year-old Christian woman whom Jamaat operatives believe is guilty of blasphemy even though the Pakistani Supreme Court acquitted her of the charge.
Jamaat and its associates have a decades-long history of violence. In 1971, Jamaat death squads murdered thousands of civilians during Bangladesh's War of Independence with Pakistan. During the run-up to Bangladesh's election in 2014, Islami Chhatra Shibir, Jamaat’s student wing, was ranked the third most violent non-state armed group in the world because it frequently targeted religious minorities like Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and Ahmadi Muslims to intimidate and disenfranchise them.Further news reports that Jamaat is well organised in the U.S. The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is a thinly veiled front group for Jamaat that acts as a legitimate community organisation. ICNA's logo is the same as Jamaat's violent student wing and ICNA’s ties to Jamaat could not be more clear, right down to inviting Jamaat operatives to its conferences, raising funds for Jamaat charities and even publicly identifying itself as a Jamaat organisation. While other Islamic groups, such as, the Islamic Society of North America, have commended the acquittal of Asia Bibi, ICNA refused to comment, as did other Jamaat proxies.
Unfortunately, Americans have enabled Jamaat’s actions. Jamaat’s western proxies have raised tens of millions of dollars in the U.S. since 2005. ICNA Relief, the charitable arm of ICNA, has received over US$1 million from the Department of Homeland Security. Another charity affiliated with Jamaat, Helping Hands for Relief and Development, works with Lashkar-e-Taiba, which perpetrated the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks. It also openly partners with affiliates of the terror group Hamas. During this same time, Jamaat has even expressed support for violence against American troops in Afghanistan and other places.
I recall what noted educationist Dr. ABM Nasir spelt-out in his article on Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) titled, “Our very own Hydra” which was published on 10th March 2010 in www.bdnews24.com. It is an article of great significance or value to better understand JeI.
Dr. Nasir says, “Hydra, a water beast with nine heads and poisonous breath in Greek Mythology, couldn’t be killed simply by severing its head because each of the heads would grow back. The stump of each severed head had to be burned to prevent it from growing back. With the help of Iolaus, Hercules eventually managed to slaughter Hydra.”
He further adds, “Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS), are like Hydras in Bangladesh with many roots in different names. Simply putting their cadres into jail is like severing Hydra’s heads. Failing to prosecute the alleged Jamaat and Shibir terrorists in the courts will surely have far reaching consequences.”
While analysing about the JeI cosmos, he points out, “Perhaps, the capacity of both Jamaat and Shibir to perpetrate violence against progressive and pro-liberation forces makes them a highly coveted partner to have. During 2001-06, being a partner of the BNP-led coalition government, Jamaat’s strong influence in controlling the government’s agenda, placing its cadres in government offices, educational institutions, religious organisations, and penetrating diplomatic missions and security agencies should substantiate that claim convincingly. And, for the first time, as the testimonies of various individuals show, Jamaat’s complicity to state sponsored terrorists is beginning to come out.”Dr. Nasir lays emphasis thus saying, “To keep that from happening, the government must combine judicial prosecution with effective campaign making both the public and the international community aware of the consequences of the fundamentalists’ rise to state power. The government must not do anything where it ends up losing public support and making extremists look as if they are the victims of a government witch-hunt. Only an effective prosecution and public campaign will deny extremist outfits opportunities to resort to violence and spread the venom of hatred.”
As a very keen political observer for a very long time, I must say Nasir he has truly exposed their veiled characters. They look like Muslims but in fact, they are anti-Islamic, anti-Muslim and bitter enemy of humanity. They are thieves, liars, mass killers, looters, rapists and what not. They did all these crimes under the guise of Islam. Does Islam permit these things? We witnessed all their savage acts during our glorious Liberation War in 1971. Shibir, the killing squad of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and Jamaat-e-Islami itself are now organising machinating sneakily in the country to do harm to our people and the country – Bangladesh with all their might under the cloak of our Holy religion – Islam and under the banner of so many of furcates using Islamic masks.
These vile creatures of the hell are looking for a chance to get that happened. Pakistan’s disdainful killing squad and America’s scornful murdering outfit CIA are extending their support to them (though recently the U.S. State Department made a red-alert notice against them, but we know very well that America has many disguised hats).
The Bangladesh state lacks clarity in its approach to militant Islamism or Jamaat’s own brand of Islam; the country’s politicians are often part of expedient political alignments with Islamist groups like JeI, the hydra; and some social media allow so-called Islamist views, including conspiracy theories, to prevail without allowing arguments against their beliefs to be amplified. As a result, Jamaat-e-Islami or its different branches in different names, using the name of our Holy religion Islam with different strategies for acquiring political power, continue to flourish clandestinely in Bangladesh, while the writ of the state continues to weaken.
Jamaat and its associates have a decades-long history of violence as we mentioned above.
It is sad, but given the state of our society, somehow not so surprising, that some people choose the wrong valets-de-chambres to adorn our Holy Islamic dresses, beards, caps…They are the communities and the attention of society is that they are outright infamous criminals.
The spike in religious violence is global and affects virtually every religious group. A 2018 Minority Rights Group report indicates that mass killings and other atrocities are increasing in countries both affected and not affected by war alike. While bloody encounters were recorded in over 50 countries, most reported lethal incidents involving minorities were concentrated in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, India, Myanmar, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Hostilities against Muslims and Jews also increased across Europe, as did threats against Hindus in more than 18 countries. Making matters worse, 55 of the world’s 198 countries imposed heightened restrictions on religions, especially Egypt, Russia, India, Indonesia and Turkey.
U.S. Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana State introduced the resolution in the US Congress titled “Expressing concern about the threat posed to democracy and the democratic process by theocratic groups operating in Bangladesh,” in the House of Representatives on November 20, 2019 according to the US Congress official website, reports BSS.
The resolution calls on the Bangladesh government to stop radical organizations including Jamaat-e-Islami, Islami Chhatra Shibir, and Hefazat-e-Islam, who pose an on-going threat to Bangladesh’s stability and secular democracy. While the Banks resolution won’t solve the problem, it begins the process of breaking the silence about the threat of Jamaat. That is good for the security of America, America’s allies and for the forces of pluralism and freedom in South Asia and elsewhere.
Jamaat-e-Islami also now acts as the unofficial arbiter of Pakistan’s status as a nation founded on the grounds of its veiled Islamic identity.
This reminds us of the brutal, cruel and inhuman activities of Al-Badr and Al-Shams, the killing outfits of Jamaat, in 1971. Jamaat and its gangsters have got no relation with Islam or Muslims. They are just the devils. They are the sinners against all humanities. We should all try to bring the rest of these demons to justice without further delay. Otherwise, they will bring about a holocaust for the people of Bangladesh, once again. And it will be far more dangerous than that of 1971. Jamaat and its various murdering outfits deserve to be banned and this is a dire need of the hour.
We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom. Unless Jamaat and Shibir are uprooted, there will be no peace in our society and elsewhere, because Jamaat-e-Islami and Shibir are rabid dogs and these hellish creatures must be sent to the netherworld.
The writer is a political commentator who writes on politics, political and
human-centred figures, current and