MLM: Mufti Amir Hamza Fuels Bangladeshi Extremism Through ‘Wa’z Mehfils’
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).
According to police, Shakib drew inspiration from the incendiary sermons of Mufti Amir Hamza, Ali Hasan Osama, Mahmudul Hasan Gunobi, and Harun Izhar posted on popular social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook. Extremist messaging on those platforms were also listed as a key part of Shakib’s radicalization. Shakib’s interrogation led to the arrests of several pro-al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam elements that include sympathizers, extremist ideologues and Islamist orators who have inspired and radicalized youths like him to embrace “militancy and martyrdom.” Shakib’s confessions led to the arrests of radical Islamist orators Amir Hamza from Dabiravita village of Kushtia on May 24 and Maulana Hasan Gunobi from Dhaka’s Shah Ali Beribandh on July 15 (New Age, May 24; Daily Star, July 17)
Hamza and Wa’z Mehfils Under Watch
In Bangladesh, Wa’z Mehfils, or Islamic sermon gatherings, are important platforms for socio-religious conversation. Islamic scholars are supposed to address public gatherings to spread the virtues of Islam, and so are primarily organized in impoverished rural settings. However, the foiled parliament attack plot brought Bangladesh’s unique Wa’z Mehfil culture under scrutiny.
For Complete Article (Subscription), Read, "Mufti Amir Hamza Fuels Bangladeshi Extremism Through Wa’z Mehfils", Militant Leadership Monitor (Jamestown Foundation), Vol. XII (7), July 2021.