Catch them, Now
Jagannath Pandey (left) and Sohel Ahmed (right) were killed in a suicidal bomb attack on November 14 in Jhalakathi
ONE might call them brainwashed mindless killers fighting for a wrong cause, but they know how to be true to their words. Jama'atul Mujahidden Bangladesh (JMB), the outlawed Islamist militant outfit promised that they would not launch any terrorist attacks during the Saarc summit, as a highly placed intelligence source divulged to a section of media. In that respect they really did keep their promise.
They however did not wait for long. Barely a few hours passed by since the Saarc summit completed on November 13, before the JMB cadres targeted two judges in Jhalakathi on the morning of November 14. As the news of the death of two judges in a deadly bomb attack started to unfold, the entire country woke up to the horror of suicide bombs, something we had so far been lucky to see happening far away from us, in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, Sri Lanka etc. Mamun the first successful suicide bomber, now nursing his mortal wound, though narrowly missed his desire to become a "Shaheed" (martyr), is apparently happy by securing at least the status of "Gazi". He has confessed to his being a member of JMB's suicide squad. What is more worrying is that Mamun has reportedly told the investigators that there are some 20,000 suicide bombers at JMB's disposal.
Meanwhile, the government still basking in the glory of a successful, safe Saarc Summit, was rudely awakened from its blissful state when the first suicide bomber hit Jhalakathi. Absolutely overwhelmed and in fact frightened at the first ever incident of suicide bomb attacks, the government looked piteously helpless. Their bewilderment was evident when they took recourse to a rather unusual, and many would say naïve, step -- they sent a compilation of four verses from the Quran and Hadith with Bangla translation to the media offices asking them to publish them. The verses say "Islam does not sanction killing" "He is not a real Muslim from whose hands and mouth other Muslims are not safe" etc. What better way one can think of combating suicide bombers?
Hoping to enlighten the militants with the true teaching of Islam and thus prevent them from committing more violent and atrocious acts is very unlikely to soften the hardened extremists. It is this absolute inability on the part of the government to comprehend the full picture and the failure to conceive the extent of danger these militants pose that have made the government act so ineffectually. Besides, the government is also guilty of playing patron when the JMB started to get organised and first began to bare its vicious teeth in xRajshahi last year.
While the media, the opposition parties and the international communities have been relentless in accusing the ruling four-party alliance's covert and often overt support for the JMB or JMJB, good sense finally seems to be dawning on some ruling party members. BNP MP from Rajshahi-3 Abu Hena in a recent interview with BBC Bangla Service observed that the outlawed militant outfit certainly enjoys the backing of a certain quarter of the government. "The association between the militants and the coalition is likely, since some people of such a mindset are in the coalition," he commented.
Rajshahi City Corporation Mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu Minu's alleged good relation with Dr Galib, the chief of Ahle Hadith, which is closely linked to JMB, is no secret -- has also joined the party. He opined that the government had made a mistake by taking the militants lightly and not clamping down on them during their rise.
The November 14 bomb attacks once again underlines the colossal failure on the part of the intelligence agencies. Especially in the context of at least a couple of bomb attacks targeting the judges on October 3 in Chittagong, Chandpur and Laxmipur and another one on October 18 when Biplob Goswami narrowly escaped a suicide attack in Sylhet.
Though the government seemed to have been caught off guard at the suicide bomb attacks, the facts remain explosive: experts in the law enforcement agencies cautioned the government about JMB's having suicide bombers as early as last month right after the bomb attack on Goswami in Sylhet.
After analysing the exploded and unexploded bombs used in Sylhet, experts in a report sent to the home ministry on October 20 categorically pointed out that, "The terrorists can attack at their desired time with desired devastation as the expertise they have shown in preparations of the bombs". The bomb which the bomb carrier in the Sylhet incident, later identified as Akhter Hossain, kept strapped on his thigh was 'most likely a suicidal weapon', the report observed. Akhter however did not get the opportunity to detonate the bomb.
Among other things the report also pointed out that except for electric detonators and
The two and a half years old son of the slain judge Jagannath Pandey
power gel (explosives) all other bomb making materials are available in local markets and JMB has stockpiled quite a lot of materials not available here.
Mamun, the first suicide bomber, comes from a poor background. His father Kamruzzaman alias Lalchand is a day labourer in Rajshahi. Mamun studied upto class 9 at Jamaat-run Moshjid Mishon Academy in the city's Binodpur area, where he got involved with Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of JamaateIslami. Mamun then worked for a bakery Ruchita factory for a while before joining JMB.
Significantly, most of the arrested JMB members have similar backgrounds. Poor, with little or no schooling, these youths are easy prey for seasoned criminals who work behind curtains and mastermind such brutal acts. With such a huge reservoir of unsuspected youths who can be easily manipulated in the name of religion, these militant godfathers are not likely to suffer from supply crisis. The good news is that the police have netted a prized catch in Abdul Awal, the son-in-law of JMB chief Abdur Rahman and one of the seven members of Majlish-e-Sura. And they 'almost nabbed' the most wanted of the masterminds -- Abdur Rahman. We can only hope that the intensity of the search is maintained; a little delay might just mean another attack and more lives lost.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005