COUNTER-TERRORISM PERSPECTIVES (CTP) deals with Armed Insurgencies, Islamist Violence, Jihad and Radicalisation issues and other forms of Asymmetric Conflicts and policy responses in South Asia and beyond.
In late December 2021, Bangladeshi counter-terrorism agencies warned about the possible resurgence of Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh (AIB), which also functions as an official wing of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and staunchly supports the Afghan Taliban’s Islamic Emirate. According to these agencies, AIB has been recruiting and training in the hinterlands of Bangladesh.
In early May 2020, the Bangladeshi police counter-terrorism unit arrested 17 members of the banned terrorist group, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), in Dhaka. At the time of the arrest, the JMB operatives planned to join Imam Mahdi, the spiritual redeemer of Islam, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
After a period of relative dormancy, India’s restive Kashmir region has been struck by violence again, witnessing an increase in the targeted killings of civilians. In October alone, there were 45 deaths, including 13 civilians and 12 security force personnel. With the killing of a well-known pharmacist, Makhanlal Bindroo, and street vendor, Virender Paswan, in Srinagar on October 5, militants from newly emerging factions have triggered a new cycle of violence.
More than a month after Taliban forces stormed Afghanistan, the self-proclaimed Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan (IEA) has yet to gain international political recognition. All eyes are on the primary stakeholder countries behind the Doha Accord of February 29, 2020, which paved the way for the Taliban’s ultimate victory.
On August 26, a prominent jihadist ideologue affiliated with al-Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Mufti Abu Zar al-Burmi (hereafter Abu Zar), issued a congratulatory statement praising the Taliban for reestablishing Islamic rule in Afghanistan. While he vehemently criticized Islamic State (IS) for its hasty and brutal method of establishing the caliphate, he complimented the Taliban for its battlefield prowess, strict adherence to religious principles, and dedication to Islamic Sharia.
In July 2021, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH), the Al Qaeda linked Kashmir jihadist group, came to the limelight when several suspected militant members were arrested in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh (UP). This was a significant breakthrough as, for the first time, suspected AGH operatives were arrested beyond their usual operating ground, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Interrogations have found that detained militants planned to carry out suicide bombings in different parts of the state. The police had identified them as Shakeel, Mohammad Mustakeem, Mohammad Moid, Minhaz Ahmed and Maseeruddin.
On May 5, Bangladeshi police arrested Mohammad Shakib and Ali Hasan Osama, two members of the al- Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Islam terrorist group. They were arrested for “planning and instigating” an attack on the National Parliament (also called the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban) in the capital Dhaka. Shakib was arrested with a sword and black flag near the parliament while Ali Hasan Osama was apprehended in the Rajbari area of Dhaka (BDNews24.com, May 6).
After facing a huge leadership crisis due to the arrests of its top leaders in March 2021, mainly due to violent protests and media allegations about its radical activities, the HeI attempted to rebuild its image by restructuring the organisation. The new Secretary-General of Hefazat-e-Islam, Nurul Islam Jihadi, announced a new central committee (CC) formation at a press briefing at Al Jamiatul Islamia Makhzanul Uloom Madrasa in Khilgaon, Dhaka on June 7. The new CC has 33 members, with Junaid Babunagari as its chief (Ameer).
The fatal attack on former President and Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed on May 6 once again reflected the deep penetration of ISIS in the Maldivian society, especially amongst the youth and certain political groups opposing liberal democracy. ISIS has already claimed responsibility for the attack on Nasheed, who was targeted for his strong views against growing radicalism in the Island country. The terrorist attack on a high profile leader in a crowded public place also reflects intelligence failure despite the police having prior information about the attack.