TM:Neo-Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh’s Female Members Further Islamic State’s Recruitment and Propaganda
The Neo-Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (Neo-JMB), which was responsible for the deadly July 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery terrorist attack in Dhaka claimed by Islamic State (IS), has effectively nurtured and nourished a strong network of female jihadists in the country (refworld.org, November 15, 2016). These women members have proven to be a largely unseen, but potent force behind the group’s resilience. They have spearheaded recruitment and propaganda campaigns and even surprised security forces with a suicide bombing on December 26, 2016 in Ashkona area of the capital Dhaka (The Independent, December 26, 2016).
Asma’s and Shirina’s Arrests
Women jihadists’ roles were previously downplayed by Bangladeshi security agencies, mostly due to gender leniency. However, the arrest of Asmani Khatun (a.k.a. Asma) in February 2020 in Dhaka’s Kamalapur area shed light on women’s roles in neo-JMB (Sangbad Pratidin, February 5, 2020). Asma’s arrest exposed a well-organized pro-IS network spanning neighboring regions, including India, and led bare neo-JMB’s robust social media outreach.
Following Asma’s arrest, her deputy, Shirina Khatun, was apprehended from Dhaka’s Gabtoli area in March 2020 (Dhaka Tribune, March 20, 2020). Investigating agencies found that Asma and her associates, including Shirina, remained active behind the scenes and engaged in Neo-JMB recruitment campaigns using social media platforms, such as Facebook, Threema and WhatsApp. Bangladeshi Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) officials learned Asma was secretly recruiting female members online using different pseudonyms like Bandi Jibona(Imprisoned Life) and Nikhoj Alo (Lost Light). She even succeeded in sending recruits to unidentified destinations for Islamic migration (hijra), presumably to Syria (the authorities did not disclose where) and a few of the recruits were arrested by the authorities. The counter-terrorism police also unearthed a violent conspiracy targeting government establishments after Asma’s arrest (Daily Star, February 6, 2020).
For Complete Article, Read, "Neo-Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh’s Female Members Further Islamic State’s Recruitment and Propaganda", Terrorism Monitor, (Jamestown Foundation), Vol.19 (3), February 12, 2021.