Alleged militant outfit, Ansar al Islam, said to be the Bangladesh chapter of al-Qaeda and which claimed the responsibility of killing bloggers, is disseminating its ideologies online.
The militant group is circulating al-Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri’s ‘general instructions to jihad’ in Bangla which is seen by many terrorism experts as its political objective purpose.
However, the government is apparently unconcerned over the activities of Ansar al Islam as law enforcement agencies are busy tackling another militant group, Neo JMB.
The government is also in the dark about the whereabouts of Ansar's so called military chief Syed Ziaul Haque, a former army major.
According to officers of joint forces engaged in anti-militant operations, Ansar al Islam is now resurfacing in Bangladesh again.
The ‘militant outfit’ is propagating its ideologies through the social media, apps, and blog sites in many names.
Speeches of al-Qaeda’s top leaders appear in these media platforms in Bangla within two hours of being delivered. The Ansar’s online followers even conduct a reading circle through these platforms.
An official of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit told Prothom Alo that Ansar al Islam is now emerging from hibernation.
About Ayman al-Zawahiri’s speech, militancy expert Mohammed Nur Khan told Prothom Alo that Zawahiri’s statement has a clear indication which is trying to emerge as a powerful power across the world, surpassing religion.
Earlier, al-Qaeda’s statements valued religious aspects. But, the instructions the outfit is disseminating now are like specific political proposals where the Qaeda leaders clarifies who is enemy and who is not.
The US-based think-tank Rand Corporation, at a House of Representatives hearing of the Homeland Security subcommittee on 13 July, stated that al Qaeda was stepping up its activities and strengthening itself in the Indian subcontinent, including in Bangladesh. It said a few hundred new members would join the outfit this year in the subcontinent and their campaign was on full swing.
However, Bangladesh’s home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has rejected such information provided by the US think-tank. On 14 July he told Prothom Alo, “It is nothing like that. There is no al Qaeda in this country. They say all this based on writings of some misguided people in Facebook and social websites. This is nothing to be afraid about.”
There have been speculations at an international level about the resurgence of al Qaeda due to IS being destroyed in Iraq and Syria. Monirul Islam, head Bangladesh’s Transnational and Counter-Terrorism unit, said that this will certain have an impact. “No matter what we do, they may be reactivated by various external factors, push factors and pull factors.”
* This column, originally published in Prothom Alo Bangla print edition, has been rewritten in English by Imam Hossain.