Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Although its looks like some of the Western powers already are having the sense of being able defeating radical Islamic militancy or at least containing it to a great extent, as someone having been closely monitoring the activities of militancy groups around the world, it does not seem to me that we have any reason of feeling either satisfied or unconcerned about the threats posed by radical Islamic militancy. Instead, in my personal opinion, we are going to face much bigger challenged in the days to come. At the same time, we need to remember, terror-patron nations like Pakistan and Iran as well as terrorist-linked such as Jamaat-e-Islami are silently providing funds, training and instigations to various groups and individuals in waging jihad against the “non-Muslim” and secularist forces and nations in the world with the goal of establishing “Allah’s rule”. Jamaat-e-Islami in particular is now openly denouncing democracy and even preaching Caliphate.
Let us look into some of the recent incidents and those of past couple of years, to understand the density of threats posed by radical Islam and militancy.
ISIS man in India:
According to reports in the Indian media, a man was arrested by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) in Meerut for allegedly supplying weapons to the suspected Islamic State module which was busted by the agency during on December 26, 2018. The arrest of 21-year-old Mohammad Nayeem reportedly works as a welder in a rural area in the country.
During the raid against the Islamic State (ISIS) module, the NIA had claimed to have seized a huge stock of arms and explosives which included Ammonium Nitrate, Potassium Nitrate, 12 pistols, Sugar material paste, 150 rounds of live ammunition, Sulphur, 51 pipes, a remote control car triggering switch, steel containers, wireless digital doorbell for remote switch electric wires, 91 mobile phones, 134 SIM cards, three laptops, knife, sword, and ISIS-related literature.
Only a few days after the annual 4th-of-July (2018) festival brought thousands of people to celebrate American independence in the streets of Philadelphia, the city hosted a different kind of gathering. The Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), an organization with deep ties to the south Asian extremist group Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), chose the City of Brotherly Love as the venue for its annual Islamist convention. Over the weekend of July 7 and 8th, a number of fanatical speakers addressed the MUNA conference in America’s birthplace. Worse still, this conference took place with the endorsement of local politicians.
Incorporated in New York in 1990, MUNA professes to be a benign non-profit group devoted to “social service” and developing the “personal, moral and social quality of human life.” Yet MUNA officials and the guests at its events including prominent supporters of JI, a violent South Asian Islamist movement founded in India by the Islamist theorist Abul Ala Moududi, whose ideas about Islamist conquest helped shape the development of groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Although JI is not itself a banned organization in America, in August 2017, the U.S. government designated Hizbul Mujahideen – JI’s paramilitary wing in Pakistan and Kashmir – as a terrorist organization.
Although JI maintains branches in dozens of countries across the globe, it is perhaps best known for helping Pakistani forces commit dozens of war crimes against Bangladeshis during the 1971 independence war. In the decades since, JI has continued its practice of complicity in violence across the subcontinent.
MUNA’s officials are not shy about their support for JI. In 2010, MUNA organized a picnic with Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, JI’s assistant secretary general, as the guest of honor. A few years later, in 2013, a Bangladeshi War Crimes Tribunal sentenced Kamaruzzaman to death for his role in the murder and torture of unarmed civilians, including the massacre of 120 unarmed farmers, during the Bangladesh Independence War.
MUNA’s vice national president Abul Faizullah, meanwhile, has praised Abdul Qader Mollah, another senior JI official. Mollah was also sentenced to death for crimes against humanity, which included assisting Pakistani troops with the murder of 369 people.
Bengali cleric Abul Kalam Azad Bashar uses his social media to express extremist and misogynist opinions. He describes democracy as nothing but a stepping-stone to establish absolute Islamic rule. He has described a country governed by man-made laws as a “totally sinful idea,” and he praised Saudi Arabian laws that force women to be “fully covered,” contrasting them with Bangladeshi women’s “immodest outfits on the street [which] create a disgusting atmosphere.”
Pakistani radical Islam in America:
On January 1, 2018 President Trump tweeted that Pakistan gives “safe haven to the terrorists.” The State Department subsequently suspended over a billion dollars of security assistance and military funding to the country. The suspension of this aid is both welcome and long overdue. For decades, elements within Pakistan’s government have openly supported America’s most virulent enemies, including funding and training the Afghan Taliban and sheltering Osama bin Laden. Today, the country continues to provide support and sanctuary for the perpetrators of terrorist attacks against the U.S. and its allies. But if the Trump administration is determined to cripple Pakistan’s support for Islamist terror, it cannot limit its focus to South Asia; it must also confront Pakistan’s Islamist proxies in the US.
One of the most important Islamist networks running America’s Muslim communities today is Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). Despite JI’s violence, its front groups in America have flourished — enjoying partnerships with government, praise from politicians and journalists, and funding from prominent charitable foundations.
One of the most important American JI organizations is an international aid charity named Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD). Founded in 2005, HHRD was annually raising an astonishing $40 million by 2015.
HHRD is openly connected to terror. In December 2017, HHRD organized a conference at a government-run college in the Pakistani city of Timergara. Other organizations sponsoring the event included the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation and the Milli Muslim League, the charitable and political wings respectively of the notorious Pakistani terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba. In 2016, the U.S. government designated the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation as a terrorist organization. Today Hafiz Saeed, the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the mastermind behind the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks, lives freely in Pakistan, despite a $10 million U.S. bounty.
When HHRD is not meeting with designated terrorist organizations, it can usually be found partnering with JI charities that are also closely linked to terrorism. Another sponsor of the HHRD conference in December was a Pakistani charity named Al-Khidmat, which is the main charitable wing of JI. According to the Indian BBC journalist Subir Bhaumik, Al-Khidmat “aids militancy and helps to support the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Jamaat’s armed wing and other groups.” In 2006, JI announced that Al-Khidmat sent 6 million rupees ($100,000) to Hamas for their “just Jihad.” HHRD is currently working with Al-Khidmat on a number of projects.
But HHRD is not just connected to JI through charitable partnerships and conferences. A look at HHRD’s American staff and officials reveals that they openly identify as JI operatives.
Despite its partnerships with terrorist organizations and its officials’ promotion of extremism, HHRD has long enjoyed non-Muslim support. HHRD reveals that its donors include the British government, the World Food Program, the World Health Organization, and prominent American corporations such as Microsoft, Cisco, PepsiCo, and Dell.
In 2013, HHRD announced that it had been named one of the “top ten” charities in America. That same year, the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management informed HHRD that it would be included on the government’s Combined Federal Campaign list, a workplace-giving program that enables federal-government employees to donate from their salaries to HHRD.
HHRD is not the sole JI organization operating in America. It is just one component of a powerful network of JI groups coordinated by an organization named the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). ICNA has openly identified itself as a JI organization on a number of occasions. Other ICNA-run organizations include another aid organization named ICNA Relief (formerly run by HHRD chairman Mohsin Ansari) and a youth wing named Young Muslims.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s campaign in favour Obama and Hillary:
An analysis of federal campaign contributions finds that key figures at six of America’s most prominent Islamist organizations have favored Democrats over Republicans by a ratio of 12 to 1 since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This trend began with multiple donations to Cynthia McKinney dated September 11, 2001, reversing a previous pattern that had seen Islamist officials spend slightly more on Republicans. Their preference for Democrats has solidified during the past 18 years and shows no signs of waning.
Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum had launched Islamist Money in Politics (IMIP), to monitor Islamists’ influence in the halls of power, inform the public about which politicians accept their tainted money, and hold accountable those who do. According to IMIP, Jamaat-e-Islami, through its sister organizations have spent significant amount of money towards the election campaign of Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. It also has backed Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Jamaat-e-Islami also has funded a number of candidates from the Democratic Party, including Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.
Islamist-affiliated individuals presumably support Democrats for the same reason that other subsets of Americans throw their weight behind certain politicians and parties: they expect Democrats to support them, at least at the level of providing the best political landscape in which to pursue their objectives. But as Daniel Pipes points out, we are not dealing here with professionals attempting to “tweak the tax code” to their advantage or even a minority population striving to secure equal rights. Islamists intend to alter the fabric of the liberal democratic system, a goal characterized by the Muslim Brotherhood, in a memorandum outlining its North American strategy, as “a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within,” culminating in Islamic rule.
Rise of Islamists in Bangladesh:
For past several years, a disturbing nexus of Islamists comprising Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JIB) and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has been actively trying to replace democratic system with Sharia rule. Bur recently the nexus has even shifted from its previous goal of establishing Sharia rule and now openly proclaims establishing Caliphate in Bangladesh.
According to a recently released video message of BNP’s Advisory Council member Mahmudur Rahman, the party has called on the people of Bangladesh, particularly youths to wage “divine war” against the secularist Awami League government and establish Caliphate in the country. Mahmudur Rahman and his party also are key-patrons of a notorious group named Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI) – an ISIS prototype group comprising madrassa teachers and students that proclaims Caliphate. For past few years, HeI has been pushing its pro-Caliphate agendas in Bangladesh and even succeeded in getting few of its demands even accepted by the secularist ruling party in the country. At the pressure of HeI, the government had recognized Qawmi-madrassa degrees equaling it with the general education degrees thus opening scope for radicalized Qawmi-madrassa members in joining country’s civil-military administration as well as judiciary. It may be mentioned here that, several leaders of HeI are connected with Al Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIS), Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).
HeI also has affiliations with various groups such as Khatmey Nabuwat Andolan, Ahley Hadis, Towhidi Janata etc which demands declaring Ahmadiyas as non-Muslims. During BNP-Jamaat’s rule from 2001 to 2006, Ahmadiya mosques, residential and business establishments came under attacks while there had been grenade attacks on a Ahmadiya mosque in southern-city named Khulna. BNP-Jamaat government had also banned religious scriptures of the Ahmadiyas and despite repeated demand from the US State Department, this ban was not withdrawn.
What the South Asian nations need to do?
It is evidently clear, Hefazat-e-Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami and its political darling Bangladesh Nationalist Party are increasing becoming much bigger threats than Al Qaeda or ISIS as these parties and group have millions of supporters around Bangladesh. Unless the Western policymakers take immediate steps in listing Hefazat-e-Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami and Bangladesh Nationalist Party as terror-affiliated groups, Bangladesh may ultimately fall into the grips of Caliphate-mongers.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor of Blitz