Ban on HuT in Bangladesh- Alarming Rise of Jihadi terror in region

As part of its commitment of combating religious extremism and terror, government of Bangladesh under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has finally banned the Jihadist outfit Hizb Ut Towhid [HuT] in the country. Following this ban, law enforcing agencies have started massive offensives on Hizb Ut Towhid throughout the country, and meanwhile some of the members and Jihadist cadres of this notorious anti-Semitic Jihadist outfit are arrested.

Hizb Ut Towhid activities came into radar of the Bangladeshi intelligence agencies following publication of reports and editorials in Weekly Blitz since 2009. Bayeezid Khan Panni aka Selim Panni, founder and kingpin of notorious Islamist militancy group Hizbut Towhid [HuT] believes in theory of hate speech and poisoning the minds of innocent people with his self-made imaginary statements and stories, which are aimed at creating tremendous hatred in the minds of Muslims against Christians and Jews. He calls upon Muslim in waging Jihad [Holy War] against Jews, Christians and the Western world, for the “sake of Islamic revival and establishment of HuT rule.”

Hizbut Towhid is no more only a militancy group operating inside Bangladesh. But, in past several years, it has spread its activities in a number of cities in the world. Selim Panni dreams of gripping the global power within a decade. He confidently tells his followers of such plan. Panni instructs the followers of Hizbut Towhid to target at least one Christian or Jew in their life time and ‘exterminate’. He gives special encouragements towards waging Jihad against United States, Israel and the West. It was reported in Bangladeshi media that, Panni’s children are already residing and working in the West, who too are associated with this Islamist militancy group. Bangladesh government is yet to ban extremist publications of HuT such as a book and DVD named ‘Dajjal’, which encourages Muslims in waging war against Jews and Christians.

 Though banned, this notorious Islamist militancy group, Hizbut Towhid [HT] is continuing to spread hate speech through its own website and commercial distribution of hate materials are continuing from HuT’s sales center at 31/32 P. K. Roy Road, Pustak Bhaban, Bangla Bazar, Dhaka. The mentioned website though claimed to be owned by the “Publication Unit” of Hizb Ut Towhid, in reality, it is the official website of HuT.

At the beginning of the page, an article is published in English titled ‘The true call of Eslam’, where Bayeezid Khan Panni alias Selim Panni, the kingpin of this terror outfit wrote, “to people, who are aware to even a minimum degree of what is happening around them in this world, it does not come as any surprise what pitiable situation the population of about 1600 million or 160 crores people who claim themselves to be Moslems are in. They are being subjected to untold horror by all other peoples of this world, defeated in every aspect, insulted, humiliated and killed. Their places of worship, their mosques, are being razed to the ground or turned into offices or clubs. Their women are being violated and killed. Yet, this is the people who go by the same name of those who were once the masters of this world. All others looked upon them in awe and respect, they ruled over half of the total land mass of the then world. They were the people who established the way of life [Deen] given by Allah over all the areas they conquered; they ruled unrivaled as none was there to challenge them in any aspect for they held the highest position in terms of military might, advances in science, civilization, in areas of new discoveries, inventions, technology and economic strength. Yet, all this could do little to prevent the wrath of Allah when the time came- and centuries have passed since they collectively lost in military confrontation to European Christian nations and accepted their subjugation in their lives. During the process of these defeats, lakhs and lakhs of these Moslems were killed, under tanks, burnt and buried alive-and shot dead, their dwellings were burned down. Their females faced the worst fates, being sold to brothels across Europe and Africa. Yet, the wrath of Allah has not ceased to this date. Christian forces in different parts of Europe namely Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Czechoslovakia, Chechnya, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea-in Asia and Africa-in the Philippines, Buddhists in the Arakan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Sing Kiang [China] – Jews in the Lebanon and Palestine, Hindus in the whole of India, especially Kashmir, are carrying on with the persecution and massacre on the Moslem peoples with relentless pursuit. There has not been a single instance, where any Moslem minority has expressed their will to live as Moslems and they have not been persecuted. They are taken into custody, subjected to inhumane torture, hung or simply left to die. All because they want to live independently as Moslems! In the history of mankind, no other nation has endured the level of humiliation and insult that has been heaped on this people. The incidents in Bosnia are such that, they are no comparison in human history; where thousands of Moslem were killed and dumped in mass graves, more than two hundred thousand Moslem women were systematically raped, impregnated and held in concentration camps to prevent them from aborting their unwanted offspring. Eventually, they gave birth to children of their Christian violators.”

In the book and DVD named ‘Dajjal’, Hizbut Towhid kingpin Bayeezid Khan Panni terms Jews and Christians as enemies of Islam. He advocates ‘Jihad’ against Jews and Christians and their allies as ‘sacred task’ of Muslims.

According to Dhaka’s leading English language daily newspaper The Daily Star, on April 17, 2009 Police arrested 31 Hizbut Towhid activists, including its Kushtia regional chief, and seized books and leaflets on Jihad from Kushtia town [in the Southern part of Bangladesh]. They also recovered two kilogram of a white powder, which was not identified immediately.

Police claimed that of the arrestees, six were top-level leaders of the outfit including two alleged militant trainers who are also policy-makers of the organization. Acting on a tip off, a police team, led by Officer-in-charge of Kushtia Police Station Babul Sardar, raided the organization’s Pather Disha office at Bara Bazar in the town in the morning and made the arrests while they were holding a secret meeting. The arrestees admitted that they have long been members of Hizb-ut Towhid.

Daily Star quoted locals saying, they would often see a group of people gathered at Pather Disha office, owned by Mahbub Rahman. People aged between 15 and 25 used to assemble at the office from different parts of the country. They held daylong meetings and left at night, locals claimed.

According to Bangladeshi police a large number of trained Hizb Ut Towhid jihadists are active in Kushtia, Meherpur, Chuadanga and Jhenidah of Khulna division. Different sources say that at least 1,200 trained members of the outfit are active in the region. Most of them are Madrassa students belonging to poor families and Imams of mosques. On September 9, 2003, 45 people including Hizb-ut Towhid men were injured when they clashed with locals at Poradah Bazar in Mirpur upazila in Kushtia. Police later arrested 43 Hizb-ut Towhid activists.

In Meherpur, 14 Hizb-ut Towhid men including its Meherpur unit chief Anisur Rahman were arrested in separate raids by Rapid Action Battalion [RAB] and police at Gangni on April 13, 2007. Police recovered firearms, bomb-making materials, books on jihad and leaflets from their possession.

In Jhenidah, 34 Hizb-ut Towhid men were arrested on July 13, 2004. Police also seized books and leaflets and other materials from them. According to a press report published a few months ago, the law-enforcement agencies have listed 29 Islamic organisations for suspected involvement in militancy and Hizb-ut Towhid is one of them. Allahr Dal, Islami Samaj, al Harat al Islamia, Jama’atul Faliya, Towhidi Janata, Biswa Islami Front, Juma’atul al Sadat, Shahadat-e-Nobuat, Jama’at-e Yahia al Turat, Joyshe Mostafa Bangladesh, al Jihad Bangladesh, Woarat Islamic Front, Jamaat-as-Sadat, al Khidmat, Harkat-e-Islam al Jihad, Hijbullah Islami Samaj, Muslim Millat Shahria Council, World Islamic Front for Jihad, Joysh-e Mohammad, Hijbul Mahadi, Kalemar Dawat, Islami Dawati Kafela, al Islam Martyrs Brigade, Dawat-e Islam, Tanjim, Hizb e Abu Omar, and Jadid al-Qaeda Bangladesh are in that list. For the last few years Hizb-ut Towhid has been carrying out secret operations in the name of “dawat” in different parts of the country, especially in the southern region. In some cases police arrested some activists of different Islamic organizations during their suspicious activities.

For instance, law enforcers arrested a few Hizb-ut Towhid activists in Bhola in early September 2008 for their suspicious movement. Superintendent of Police of Bhola GM Azizur Rahman had told The Daily Star “the outfit seems suspicious as Hizb-ut Towhid’s activities have similarity with the activities and groundwork of banned militant organizations.”

The organizations activities surfaced early in 2008 when some of its operatives were seen distributing books and leaflets propagating Islamist militancy among students of the school. Hizb-ut Towhid in its different publications being distributed among youths is trying to teach them that jihad or military program or armed struggle is a must to establish the rule of Islam.

According to The Daily Star, the organization campaigns for armed struggle using the verses of the holy Quran. “… [if anyone] leaves jihad or armed struggle, they shall not be accepted to Allah as a momen [devout],” reads a publication of Hizb-ut Towhid titled “Islamer Prokrito Salah” [Real Salah of Islam]. In the book Hizb-ut Towhid says the Muslims as a whole are a military nation. The whole nation is a military force; each and every Muslim [man and woman] is a soldier, a Mujaheed and a warrior.

“The training of this military force is called Salah,” the book reads. Hizbut Towhid’s headquarters is situated at Dhaka’s Uttara residential area at House No. 4, road no. 18, sector no. 7. Uttara is one of the residential areas in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, which houses mostly upper-middle class and middle class people. Bayeejid Khan Panni, claiming him to be ‘Imam-Uz-Zaman’ by placing himself just behind prophets is continuing to operate this notorious group with financial assistance from various dubious sources. This extremist outfit was established in 1994 at Korotian village under Tangail district in Bangladesh.

Bayezid Ponni although operates HuT from his Uttara residence, there are now a number of branches of this notorious militancy group in a number of places in the Capital as well as other parts of the country. At Dhaka’s New Eskaton Road area, Selim Clinic, which is located at the ground floor of a 4-storied building is used as the ‘outlets’ of Hizb Ut Towhid in collecting members and fund. Meanwhile, this group has extended its activities within Barisal, Feni, Kushtia, Madaripur, Tangail, Gazipur, Meherpur, Jhenidah, Noakhali, Khulna, Chittagong and Narshingdi districts under the patronization of its active members and donors. Funds of this group is collected in the name of ‘Zakat’ [Islamic donation].

The HuT chief, who left Bangladesh after the independence and returned in the ’80s, published a book titled “This Islam is not at all Islam” in March 1996, which the government banned on May 10, 1998. He also wrote another book named ‘Dazzal’, where he said that Jews and Christians are the evils who should be eliminated by the Muslims. Besides, there are several leaflets and booklets on the HuT ideologies and objective. Followers of HT do not believe in democracy and traditional government system.

HuT activists use iron hammer and tobacco dust when they attack. They used a hammer to kill one Abdul Malek in Pagla Bazar in Fatulla, Narayangaj on September 26, 2003 when local devotees protested the HuT activities. Followers of this extremist group term Azan as “bark of dog” and do not say prayers in mosques. They consider Islamic greetings or Salaam as “bad practice”. Mahbub Ali, Kushtia district HT ameer, has been working along with 40/50 activists. Sohrab Hossain Khan of Sakukuthi village in ouranadi upazila of Barisal, an absconding accused of a murder case, has also been leading HT activities from hideouts.

With the fund received from the unknown donors, Hizbut Towhid is gradually gaining military strength by recruiting and training their own ’suicide squad’ to ‘fight against evils’ and ‘liberate the world from the grips of devils named democracy’ and establish Islamic rule under the directives of Bayejid Ponni.

Mohammad Bayezid Khan Ponni alias Selim Ponni terms working women as and women in politics as ‘prostitutes’ and gives his own ‘Islamic Code’ for men to marry any number of wives. His interpretation is, “women are created only for sexual pleasure of men and this is their only task.”

He projects Jews and Christians as true evils and preaches killing them or raping female members of Jewish and Christian societies as “divine task”. He also teaches his followers to wage any type of offensives on the West. Bayejid Panni considers secularist forces as enemies of Islam and encourages his followers in killing seculars for “buying heaven”. In his interpretation, Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh [JMB] and other Islamist militancy groups are “sacred forces of Allah” and he terms Shaikh Abdur Rahman as the “Hero of Allah”. Although Bangladeshi intelligence agencies are continuing to gather information on this extremist outfit, there is visibly no sign from the government putting any ban on its activities for reason unknown. Moreover, it is reported that, a large number of Hizbut Towhid men are already going to a number of Western nations including United States, UK etc and they are actively working there in collecting members as well as getting prepared for “revolution against Jews and Christians”.

For the last few years Hizb Ut Towhid has been carrying out secret operations in the name of ‘dawat’ in different parts of the country, especially in the southern region. In some cases Bangladeshi law enforcing agencies also arrested some activists of different Islamic organizations during their suspicious activities. For instance, law enforcers arrested a few Hizb Ut Towhid activists in Bhola in September 2008 for their suspicious movement.

The organizations’ activities surfaced early 2008 when some of its operatives were seen distributing books and leaflets propagating Islamist militancy among students of the school. Hizb Ut Towhid in its different publications being distributed among its targets is trying to teach them that jihad or military program or armed struggle is a must to establish the rule of Islam.

 The organization campaigns for armed struggle using the verses of the holy Qur’an. “… [if anyone] leaves jihad or armed struggle, they shall not be accepted to Allah as a momen [devout],” reads a publication of Hizbut Towhid titled “Islamer Prokrito Salah” [Real Salah of Islam].

 In the book Hizb Ut Towhid says the Muslims as a whole are a military nation. The whole nation is a military force; each and every Muslim [man and woman] is a soldier, a Mujahid and a warrior.

“The training of this military force is called Salah,” the book reads. Few months back, Hizbut Towhid activists were arrested in different parts of Bangladesh, while they were distributing leaflets against Kindergarten schools and English medium education system in Bangladesh. It is learnt from various reliable sources that, Bayeejid Khan Panni has successfully recruited some West educated people in his group, who are working in preparing various publications for this notorious terror outfit. In recent months, the group has started aggressively spreading its hate message amongst people with the intention of creating Jihadist mentality in the minds of commoners.

Intelligence sources in Dhaka indicated that sedition charges are being lodged against Bayeejid Khan Panni and at least 100 HuT cadres soon. It also hinted that suspected HuT cadres as well as female Jihadists of this notorious outlawed group are now under strict surveillance. It said, foreign intelligence agencies as well as law enforcing agencies shall also be alerted about the latest decision of the government of banning HuT and criminal record of this notorious outfit shall be forwarded to the agencies concerned. Additionally Bangladeshi intelligence will request social networking sites such as Facebook or Orkut to remove all account held by Hizb Ut Towhid members. It may be mentioned here that Hizb Ut Towhid cadres are maintaining more than 15,000 accounts on Facebook. Moreover, travel restrictions will be imposed on some of the top-ranking Jihadists of Hizb Ut Towhid. Immigration departments at Shahjalal International Airport as well as other airports and immigration points in Bangladesh will be notified about this decision soon.

BangladeshDaily StarHizb Ut TowhidIslamJihad