In India, one after another madrassa with jihad connection is being identified by law enforcement agencies. According to media reports, the state government in Assam is waging a crackdown on suspicious madrassas in the state which are accused of having links with Islamist jihadist outfits. Zee News reports, that a madrassa and a Muslim shelter home have been found in Gowalpara of the state, where a person residing has links with the banned jihadist outfit “Ansar ul Bangla” in Bangladesh.
Although Zee News in its report mentions ‘Dharamsala’ inside the madrassa, there is no such ‘Dharamsala’ in any madrassa in the world. It actually is known as an orphanage home. Secondly, there is no existence of any jihadist group named ‘Ansar ul Bangla” in Bangladesh. Either this claim is false or misleading. Indian intelligence should clarify this matter.
In my opinion, there are two main militancy groups active in the South Asian region. One is AQIS, which is a branch of Al Qaeda, and another is Islamic State.
In Bangladesh, Al Qaeda-affiliated militancy group in Ansar Al Islam (AAI), which was previously known as Bangladesh is Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB). Surprisingly, although Al Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) are having ideological differences, AAI is simultaneously maintaining connections with both jihadist outfits.
It may be mentioned here that, Ansar Al Islam maintains relations with regional jihadist outfits such as Hizbul Mujahedin. It also has direct connections with Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI), a pro-Caliphate group of madrassa students and teachers with its headquarters in Bangladesh. The majority of the madrassa teachers and students in Bangladesh either are affiliated or sympathetic to Hefazat-e-Islam.
Hefazat-e-Islam denounces democracy and women leadership and promotes Caliphate rule. If there is any link between the jihadists inside madrassas in India either with Ansar Al Islam or Hefazat-e-Islam, this certainly is a matter of grave concern. It is important to note, that both AAI and HeI strongly support jihadist groups in Jammu and Kashmir, and both groups maintain connections with Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
The case of the jihadist-connected madrassa in Gowalpara may not be any isolated or lone incident. There must be more jihadist-connected madrassas in Assam as well as other parts of India.
According to Zee News, the Dargar Alga Madrassa located at Pahiura Char has been identified by law enforcement agencies for possible terror links.
Recently the founder of the Madrasa, Imam Jalaluddin, and two more persons were arrested by police for suspected terror links. Police had found that Jalaluddin had recruited suspected Bangladeshi Jihadis as teachers, and two of them are now absconding.
The teachers had claimed that they are from West Bengal, but local people had doubts about their identities and had asked them to submit their identity documents. But two teachers, Jahangir Alam and Aminul Islam, fled from the area in the night fearing arrest. Locals informed the police about the incident and the police raided the madrasa on August 24, where several incriminating documents were recovered. Police arrested three persons, Madrasa founder Jalaluddin Sheikh, one person Abdus Subahan and another person who has not been named.
Both of the teachers who fled had stayed in a house attached to the madrasa for around 1.5 years. According to police, illegal Bangladeshi immigrants with links to the terrorist group used to live in the house attached to the Madrasa. During the raid of the madrasa by police on 24th August, a photo of a deceased individual and a poster were uncovered. The police have also obtained a huge cache of jihadist module literature from this location.
In another incident, the district administration and police in Barpeta district in Assam demolished a madrassa run by Maulvis Akbar Ali and his brother Abul Kalam Azad and arrested them for their links with the terror outfit Al-Qaeda Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
The madrasa, Shaikhul Hind Mahmudul Hasan Jamiul Huda Islamic Academy, was located in Dhakaliapara, Assam’s Barpeta district, and is alleged to have been built unlawfully on public land. The police also detained the madrasa’s principal, Mahmunur Rashid. The madrasa hosted “Bangladeshi terrorist” Md Suman alias Saiful Islam, who was apprehended by Assam police in March 2022.
In my opinion, for the sake of uprooting the existence of jihadists within madrassas in India, law enforcement and intelligence agencies need to interact with their Bangladeshi to learn further details on the matter. They also need to check another crucial point about connections between the madrassa-based jihadists and Tablighi Jamaat, which has been serving the purpose of an effective vessel for spreading religious hatred and recruitment on behalf of various jihadist groups, including Al Qaeda and ISIS.