While Bangladesh and India are currently facing potential threats posed by the radical Islamic forces and several jihadist groups have proclaimed “direct jihad” against India with the notorious agenda of implementing ‘Ghazwa-e-Hind’ and turning India into an “Islamic country” by 2047, a madrassa in Bangladesh’s Feni district is silently expanding breeding thousands of potential jihadists while many of the teacher and students of this madrassa is having links with global militancy outfits such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS).
According to a credible source, back in 1994 a local Islamist named Mufti Shahidullah, a disciple of Rashid Ahmad Ludhianvi founded Jamia Rashidia Koranic madrassa in Feni district’s Laskarhat area in Moutobi union.
According to information Rashid Ahmad Ludhianvi also knows as Mufti Rashid Ahmed, who died in February 2022 was a heavily radical Pakistani clergyman who founded the Al Rashid Trust and the Jamia Tur Rasheed in Karachi, Pakistan.
It is further learnt Rashid Ahmad Ludhianvi was also a prominent supporter of the Afghan Taliban, and after he returned with “extremely positive impressions” from Afghanistan and wrote a book as advice for the Talibans, titled Obedience to the Amir and composed in 1998 or 1999, Mullah Omar was so impressed that he distributed Pashto and Dari versions of it to the visitors, saying it perfectly represented the Talibans’ ideology, while Barnett Rubin states that this “manual on how to run a militant organization” helped the Taliban “devise an organizational model that suppressed tribalism and patronage network more effectively than any other organization in Afghanistan”.
Another source said, Rashid Ahmad Ludhianvi had established direct communication with Osama bin Laden and few other key leaders of Al Qaeda. Most of his disciples are followers of radical Islam and jihad.
A Western intelligence source said, following 9/11 jihadist attacks on the US soil, Rashid Ahmad Ludhianvi was put on sanction list amongst many other Al Qaeda men.
According to a book written by Sushant Sareen, Rashid Ahmad Ludhianvi was known as a “jihad factory” by most of the counterterrorism experts in the world.
The investigations into the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament House on December 13,2001, have also focused attention on the possible role of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JED) of Pakistan in organizing the attack with the assistance of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET).
During the 1980s, many ostensibly humanitarian relief organizations came into being in Pakistan through which Western and Saudi intelligence agencies could funnel money to the Army of Islam of Pakistan and others fighting the Soviet troops. One such organization got floated in Karachi by the ISI and registered as a charitable trust under the Pakistan Income Tax Act was called the Al Rashid Trust, which ran, inter alia, the weekly and online journals of the Taliban called “Zarb-e-Momin”. Its founder was Mufti Rashid Ahmed.
In 1994, Maulana Masood Azhar, a leader of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), one of the components of the Army of Islam, who had fought along with bin Laden’s Al Qaeda against the US troops in Somalia and had participated in the training of Al Qaeda’s supporters in Yemen, was arrested by the Indian authorities and detained in a Jammu jail till December,1999, when he had to be released as demanded by the HUM cadres, including Azhar’s brother, who had hijacked an Indian Airlines’ plane to Kandahar.
During his detention, Azhar used to send articles clandestinely to the Al Rashid Trust and these used to be published in the “Zarb-e-Momin”. In one of these articles published on October 31,1999, Azhar praised the services of Mufti Rashid Ahmed as follows:
Due to his services, “the Taliban gained strength and the long porous border of Pakistan became so safe that not a single army guard is needed there. If instead of the Taliban, Ahmad Shah Masood (Writer’s Comment: Since assassinated by the Al Qaeda on September 8, 2001) who is the enemy of Pakistan and ally of India had been the ruler of Afghanistan, Pakistan would have been surrounded by enemies on all four sides”.
“Thousands of his students are fighting in Kashmir. Students, who are as dear to him as his own sons, putting their lives in danger are battling the Indian troops”.
“When some renowned sons of Islam and Pakistan attained martyrdom in the prisons of India, he announced a reward of Rs. two million for those who would kill the murderers”.
One Mohammed Saleh, son of Rashid Ahmed, native of Karachi, captured in July, 1998, by the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan stated as follows during his interrogation: “His (Saleh’s) parents came to Pakistan in 1973 as refugees. He was born in 1975 in the city of Karachi in Pakistan and studied up to the eighth grade. He then began attending the Abuzar Islami Kawrangi madrassah. During his studies, he joined the Mahaz-e Islami of Burma party through Noor Alem, who was the leader of Mahaz-e Islami and Abdul Hamid, his deputy. This party has links with Harkat ul Mujahideen and Harkat ul Ansar and Edara ul Rashid. Mufti Rashid Ahmed is the chief of these three parties and Mufti Abdul Rahim is his deputy. These parties have direct links with ISI and the Taliban inside Afghanistan and are supporters of the Taliban. They always send their members inside Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban. The Zarb-e Momin newsletter explains about their links with ISI and the Taliban. Its daily publication supports the Taliban.”
Following his release from jail by the Govt. of India in December, 1999, Azhar went to the Binori mosque in Karachi and announced the formation of the JEM to fight against India and the US. This caused a split in the HUM and a majority of its members joined the JEM, which was inducted by Gen. Mohammad Aziz, presently Chairman of Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, as a member of the Army of Islam. Despite the JEM and the HUM being both members of the Army of Islam, there were frequent clashes between the two-over property, fund collection etc.
The JEM cadres, after training, were inducted into J & K by Aziz and it became the principal terrorist organization after the LET.
The jihadist factory in Bangladesh
The Jamia Rashidia Qawmi madrasa in Feni houses over 300 teachers and more than 7,000 students. Back back in 1994 a local Islamist named Mufti Shahidullah, a disciple of Rashid Ahmad Ludhianvi founded Jamia Rashidia Koranic madrassa on 7-acre land in Feni district’s Laskarhat area in Moutobi union. In addition to regular students, this madrassa also has “special arrangements” for “Kulliat Sharayyai” meaning, those who follow the strict rule of Sharia in the lives and consider Rashid Ahmad Ludhianvi as their philosopher. There are over two dozen of “Khadim” employed only to take care of the “outside students”. It is alleged that, a large number of students of this madrassa are sent to Afghanistan and Pakistan under the guise of the member of Tablighi Jamaat.
Apart from regular students, there are special arrangements for ‘Kulliat Sharayyai’ and religious education of the local common people for those educated in general education. The institution has 140 teachers and 21 Khadim and employees.
Most suspicious part is, although Jamia Rashidia Qawmi madrasa requires over US$200,000 every month for providing food and other basic amenities to its students and teachers, there is no shown source of income of this organization. Journalists, right activists and even members of the diplomatic missions are not allowed within the compound of this jihad factory.