CTC SENTINEL: "Jamaatul Mujahidin Bangladesh: Weakened, But Not Destroyed"

November 01, 2011

Jamaatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB), an indigenous terrorist group founded in 19981 and committed to establishing an Islamic state in Bangladesh through violence, stormed onto South Asia’s jihadist scene with a synchronized, country-wide bomb assault on August 17, 2005.2 The group detonated approximately 460 bombs within a 30-minute period at 300 locations in 63 of the 64 districts in Bangladesh.3 Later in 2005, JMB targeted the country’s judiciary—court buildings, judges, and government officials—with suicide attacks in an effort to intimidate authorities into releasing around 400 JMB suspects arrested after the August countrywide blasts.4

Shortly after the incidents, authorities apprehended more than 700 suspected members of JMB and its affiliate party, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB). In March 2007, the Bangladeshi government executed a number of JMB’s leaders, including its chief, Shaikh Abdur Rahman. Today, six years after the audacious terrorist attacks of 2005, Bangladesh’s elite counterterrorism agency, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), claims to have neutralized JMB’s core and substantially reduced the risk it poses.5

Yet the JMB threat to Bangladesh has not been eliminated. While the group has been dramatically weakened, there are new concerns that it is attempting to reconstitute itself, especially in Bangladesh’s northeastern districts.6 In January 2011, members of an alleged “JMB suicide squad” issued threats to assassinate Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and to blow up Chittagong Central Jail and the Chittagong court building unless authorities safely released detained JMB cadres.7 As of October, Bangladeshi authorities have arrested at least 25 JMB cadres in 2011,8 indicating that the group has been building support in various madrasas and urban ghettos in and around the capital Dhaka as well as Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Rajshahi, Jhalakati, and Naogaon districts.9 There are also cases where individuals with ties to JMB became involved in more transnational terrorist plots, such as the case of British Airways employee Rajib Karim who was drawn into the orbit of al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) Anwar al-`Awlaqi.

This article assesses JMB’s current strength, which is based on interrogations from recently arrested operatives. It also examines the group’s transnational linkages to show how JMB remains a resilient terrorist group despite government efforts to destroy its top leadership and organizational efforts.

For Complete Paper: Jamaatul Mujahidin Bangladesh: Weakened, But Not Destroyed", VOLUME 4, ISSUE 11, NOVEMBER 2011.

Animesh Roul, CTC SENTINEL, November 2011