Bangladesh to start deradicalization campaign for imprisoned Islamists

Bangladesh will begin a deradicalization campaign for Islamists in jail as years of drastic security measures have diminished the strength of militant groups in the country since the 2016 terror attack on a posh Dhaka restaurant in which 20 people, including one Indian and 16 other foreigners. , were killed, officials said here on Friday.

“The initiative is aimed at preventing imprisoned militants from returning to the path of militancy,” a spokesman for the police’s counter-terrorism and transnational crime (CTTC) unit said as Bangladesh revisits the horror of the night of 1 July 2016 at Holey Artisan Cafe.

CTTC unit chief Mohammad Asaduzzaman said they received approval from the Interior Ministry for the deradicalization campaign to appoint psychologists, clerics and counterterrorism experts to advise militants who were in jail or on bail.

Under the project, the CTTC will rehabilitate 20 militants in the coming year, providing them with financial support so that they can earn a living and reintegrate into society after they complete their prison terms, he said, adding that we will also monitor their activities.

According to Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, 7,000 suspected militants have been arrested in the framework of the anti-terrorism campaign since 2016.

Five militants, armed with guns and machetes, broke into the Holey Artisan cafe on the night of July 1, 2016 and took diners hostage and carried out the massacre overnight, killing nine Italians, seven Japanese, one American , an Indian woman and five Bangladeshis, including two. police officers

Army commandos launched a counterattack, killing all the attackers at the scene in the early hours of July 2 and rescuing the survivors after 12 hours of chaos during which a restaurant worker was accidentally killed.

An Islamic State or IS team called Neo Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (Neo JMB) had carried out the massacre. While IS immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, Bangladesh has repeatedly denied the presence of any foreign terrorist group in the country, attributing the incident to local terrorists.

Three years later, a Bangladeshi court in 2019 handed down death sentences to seven Neo-JMB operatives who were found to have financed the attack, supplied weapons, or otherwise assisted those who directly carried out the massacre.

His case, however, is pending in superior court for a mandatory death referral hearing. The Bangladesh Attorney General’s office has said that efforts are being made to speed up the process.

The attack prompted Bangladesh to immediately launch a massive and prolonged nationwide crackdown on militancy involving its specialized military and police units, including the elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which also draws personnel from the army, navy and the air force.

A series of crackdowns killed dozens of militants, including women, some with their minor children who could not be saved during armed encounters in Islamist hideouts.

The CTTC and other security agencies said the Neo-JMB and other proscribed militant groups currently lost their operational strongholds as some groups tried to remain active on online platforms.

Former CTTC Chief and Incumbent Additional Inspector General of Police Monirul Islam recently underlined that, like many countries, Bangladesh has also witnessed an increase in radicalization and combating terrorism is a complex and time-consuming task that requires the participation of the whole society.

Frequent reports of the discovery of militant hideouts and the recovery of their materials indicate that they have become weak, but not dormant, said security analyst retired Major General ANM Muniruzzaman, who heads the Institute for Peace and Security Studies at Bangladesh (BIPSS).

Coinciding with the sixth anniversary of the attack on Holey Artisan, the Counter-Terrorism Unit (ATU) released a nationwide study report on militancy on Friday, which noted that half of the jailed militants were from low-income families.

The ATU report said that 83 percent of the militants came from northwestern Bangladesh, still considered a backward region as the study analyzed data from the past two decades that indicated JMB was the strongest team in terms of manpower. construction site.

According to the study, 58.3 percent of the imprisoned militants belonged to JMB, 10.27 to Neo-JMB, 7.72 to Ansarulla Bangla Team (ABT), 7.39 to Hizbut Tahrir, a group composed by members from wealthy and educated families, the Bengali newspaper Samakal reported. .

The remaining 16.32 percent of the militants belonged to other illegal groups such as Harkatul Jihad Bangladesh (HuJi-B), it said.

The ATU said it conducted the study among 1,217 jailed militants selected on a random sampling basis. Most of them were between 31 and 40 years old.

(Only the headline and image in this report may have been modified by Business Standard staff; all other content is auto-generated from a syndicated source.)

Leave a Comment