Courts and judges were targeted in a series of bomb blasts in Chandpur, Chittagong, Sylhet and Lakshmipur in October 2005. A suicide mission of the banned Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) killed two senior assistant judges and wounded three others in Jhalakathi in November 2005. Police investigation found that the Jhalakathi bomber, Hasan Al Mamun, and his family members were closely linked to Jamaat. Al Mamun was an activist of Shibir.
Police arrested seven JMB members in 2005 after the countrywide bomb blast. All of them either belonged to Jamaat or Shibir.
Even before that, the Bangladesh Bank ordered commercial banks and financial institutions to freeze accounts of several Malaysian nationals associated with Jamaat in suspicion of terror financing in October 2003.
A Chittagong University Arabic student, Marzan, who was a chief coordinator of Gulshan militant attack that left 28 people including 17 foreign nationals and two police officers dead, was a former Shibir cadre.
These are only a few among many cases where militants have been found to have had links with Islami Chhatra Shibir or its parent organisation Jamaat-e-Islami, which actively opposed the Liberation War in 1971 and has been found responsible for fomenting war crimes during the nine-month-long war.
Although Jamaat and Shibir regularly expel members involved in militant activities citing that they have violated party norms, Shibir has long been known for its brutal method of execution – cutting off tendons of hands and legs and leaving the person immobile to bleed to death.
Although seemingly committed to the democratic governance of Bangladesh, Jamaat-e-Islami appears to be main breeding ground of militants in Bangladesh. Indeed, since 1977, Shibir has reportedly attacked more than 10,000 rivals from Awami League’s student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League and BNP’s student wing Bangladesh Chhatra Dal and other student groups.
Being a fundamentalist party committed to establishing the Shariya, in relatively more peaceful means than the more extremist groups, Jamaat’s charter contradicts even to this day with that of Bangladesh’s secular ideals. While the constitution recognises the individual voter as sovereign, Jamaat only believes the sovereignty of the Almighty.
Even though Jamaat-Shibir has secretly expelled a number of its leaders and activists for violating party rules, it appears more as an exercise to grant them the ability to claim, at least officially, that the party does not endorse militant and criminal activities.
With Shibir routinely recruiting cadres from schools, colleges and universities, it provides for a fertile breeding ground of Islamist fundamentalism that other extremist groups seem to exploit to the full. They find likely candidates, already screened and inclined towards a theocratic state. Thus far Jamaat and Shibir have both claimed innocence and ignorance in these matters insisting that it is all a coincidence.
But, is it really?