Bangladesh outlaws Islamist militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team

Bangladesh has banned militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team that detectives believe has links with terrorist outfit al-Qaeda.

Published : 25 May 2015, 01:59 PM
Updated : 25 May 2015, 07:20 PM

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued a gazette notification to this end on Monday.

State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal confirmed of the development.

“The organisation has been banned,” he said.

Investigators say they suspect the group is also involved with the killing of other bloggers in Bangladesh.

Security forces last year recommended banning Ansarullah but Kamal said they took the final decision about outlawing the extremist group on Saturday.

So far, Bangladesh has banned six militant and extremist outfits.

The other five are – Jamaa'tul Mujaheedin Bangladesh (JMB), Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Bangladesh (HuJI), Shahadat-e Al-Hikma, and Hizb-ut Tahrir.

JMB and three other outfits were banned in 2005.

Its top leaders Shaikh Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam ‘Bangla Bhai’ were hanged for killing a judge in a bomb attack.

Hizb-ut Tahrir was outlawed in 2009 for preaching extremism.

Ansarullah Bangla Team came under the detectives’ scanner about three years ago when the government was cracking down on other extremist groups.

Its chief Mufti Jashimuddin Rahmani, arrested in Barguna in 2013, is currently being tried for the murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider.

Last year, a Twitter account claiming to be of Ansarullah’s took credit for the killing of Rajshahi University teacher Shafiul Islam.

Earlier this month, a similar handle claimed al-Qaeda’s Indian offshoot had carried out the murder in Sylhet of blogger Ananta Bijoy Das.

State Minister Kamal said, “The decision to ban them (Ansarullah Bangla Team) has been taken after watching their activities over a long period.”

Detectives say the outfit’s chief ran the activities from a mosque in Mohammadpur.

Several students, arrested over blogger Rajib’s murder, called Rahmani their spiritual leader and claimed his speech had inspired them to carry out the killing.

Investigators say they had first learnt of Ansarullah Bangla Team back in 2008 when it operated from a Banani mosque.

Back then, a flurry of activity by Hizb-ut Tahrir blocked it from public view.

Sources at the security forces say they have recommended banning several other outfits including Hizb-ut Tawhid, Kalema-e Jamaat, Hizbul Mahadi, Jamaaet-ul Muslemin and Islami Dawati Kafela.

According to them, about 14 outfits were under watch.

State Minister Kamal said: “The government will do whatever is necessary to keep the country free of militants and terrorists.”