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Myanmar-based ARSA boss communicating with ISIS, Kashmiris, Chechens and Uyghurs


Myanmar-based ARSA boss communicating with ISIS, Kashmiris, Chechens and Uyghurs

Anita Mathur

Being frustrated over uncertainty on the return of over one million Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, ISIS-prototype Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) boss Ataullah Abu Ammar Jununi has started communicating with his jihadist counterparts in Islamic State, Afghan-Talibans, as well as Muslim militants within the Kashmiris in India, Chechens in Russia and Uyghurs in China with the agenda of forming a regional alliance and establishing Caliphate through jihad.

According to an intelligence report, Ataullah sent a delegation to meet Kashmiri mujahidin groups last month and subsequently they traveled to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan to meet Talibans and Chechens. Almost at the same time, he also sent a delegation to Thailand to meet a few members of the Uyghur Muslims. The ARSA delegations carried a letter from Ataullah Abu Ammar Jununi calling upon the Kashmiris, Chechens, Talibans, and Uyghurs to form an alliance with the goal of waging jihad against the “enemies of Allah”. It is further learned that Ataullah also maintains regular contact with Islamic State, Muslim Brotherhood, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Joish-e-Muhammad and Abu Saiyyaf groups.

Ataullah, born in Karachi, Pakistan and grown and educated in the Islamic school in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. He is of Myanmar origin. In his later years in Saudi Arabia, Ataullah served as an imam, (similarly as Islamic State (ISIS) kingpin Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi) and served as an imam to the Rohingya diaspora community of around 150,000.

International Crisis Group (ICG) in a report released in December 2016 stated that Ataullah left Saudi Arabia in 2012, shortly after religiously motivated violence erupted in Rakhine State. A Myanmar government press release claims Ataullah spent six months of training in modern guerrilla warfare under the Taliban in Pakistan. The ICG report stated that though not confirmed, there are indications he went to Pakistan, and possibly elsewhere and that he received practical training in modern guerrilla warfare. Several members of the group also stated to ICG that he may have received additional training in Libya.

Ataullah has been an active supporter of Islamic State ever since its emergence in 2014 and according to several documents, he maintains deeper connections with Pakistani spy agency Inter Service Intelligence (ISI).

Since 2012, Ataullah began recruiting members under the banner of Harakah al-Yaqin following the 2012 riots in Myanmar. HaY, which would become ARSA in 2017, was comprised of seething, angry young men whose lives had been destroyed by the Myanmar armed forces.

The most important point to note here is – Ataullah Abu Ammar Jununi promotes Caliphate, which is a prototype of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi’s concept of Islamic State. Each of his directives is issued after cross-checking with the Quran and Hadith. He and the members of ARSA denounce democratic system and uphold the sentiment of establishing Caliphate in each part of the world.

Ataullah’s confidants in ARSA, his devoted followers among the Rohingya, and his acquaintances from Saudi Arabia all unanimously describe him as one of the politest and softest-spoken people they have ever known. He even is described of his mesmeric personality, who calls upon his fellowmen to die or kill the “enemies”.

According to counter-terrorism experts, the size of the “armies” of ARSA is anticipated to be millions, as there are 1.5 million Rohingyas only now in Bangladesh [over one million Rohingya refugees] and Myanmar, while there are thousands of Rohingyas in Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, in addition to an unknown number of Rohingyas in the western nations. There is a sharp possibility of ARSA joining hands with ISIS and may even expand up to those Islamists in Chechens and Uyghurs. There are over 110 million Uyghurs in China and thousands in Turkey, Russia, and Canada. There also are hundreds of thousands of Chechens, who are spread within Chechnya, Russia, Turkey, Middle East, United States, Canada, and the European nations.

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