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 Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh

This Statement of Reasons is based on publicly available information about Jama'at Mujahideen Bangladesh. To the Australian Government's knowledge, this information is accurate, reliable and has been corroborated by classified information where available.

Name of the organisation

Jama'at Mujahideen Bangladesh

Known aliases

  • Jamaat Mujahideen Bangladesh
  • Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh
  • Jamaat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh
  • Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh
  • JMB.

Legislative basis for listing a terrorist organisation

Division 102 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (the Criminal Code) provides that for an organisation to be listed as a terrorist organisation, the AFP Minister (Minister for Home Affairs) must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the organisation:

  1. is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, or assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act; or
  2. advocates the doing of a terrorist act.

For the purposes of listing a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code, the doing of a terrorist act includes the doing of a specific terrorist act, the doing of more than one terrorist act and the doing of a terrorist act, even if a terrorist act does not occur.

Background to this listing

Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh was first listed as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code on 9 June 2018.

Details of the organisation

Objectives

Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh is a Bangladeshi Sunni violent extremist group established in 1998 which aims to remove democracy, liberalism, socialism and secularism and institute an Islamic state in Bangladesh. Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh’s ideology broadly aligns with al-Qa’ida (AQ)’s global jihadist ideals, and the group has previously claimed responsibility for an attack via an online forum affiliated with al Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh has also at times claimed their actions to be on behalf of the Muslim Rohingya minority of Myanmar, of which large numbers reside in refugee camps along Bangladesh’s eastern border.

Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh operates across Bangladesh and in parts of India with a presence in the border areas between the two countries, particularly in the West Bengal and Assam states of India. The group’s presence in India is symbolically important to its goal of developing a regional profile focused on a ‘prophesied war of India’.

The most prominent attack attributed to Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh occurred on 17 August 2005 with 459 coordinated explosions across 63 of the 64 districts in Bangladesh, almost all occurring within a 30 minute period in the morning. Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh members were also charged in India for the attack at the Bodh Gaya Buddhist temple in Bihar state, India on 20 January 2018. Timed to coincide with a Dalai Lama visit and protest the treatment of Rohingya in Myanmar, Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh members constructed improvised explosive devices and placed them in locations around the temple—one device exploded and two were defused.

Leadership

Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh’s founding leader Sheikh Abdur Rahman was executed by Bangladeshi security forces in 2007, after which leadership passed to Maulana Saidur Rahman, who was imprisoned in 2010. In February 2020, Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh announced a new leader, Salahuddin Ahmed, alias Salehin, reportedly located in West Bengal, India.

Membership and funding

Following a high profile series of explosive attacks across Bangladesh in 2005, local authorities arrested 656 Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh members, laying charges against 356 of those by 2011. The current overall Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh membership is unclear, but these counter-terrorism operations are likely to have significantly impacted their numbers through deaths (either during disruption operations, or by executions) or imprisonments.

India has been used by Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh for fundraising and preparations for attacks. Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh recruit from both Bangladesh and India and sympathise with the Rohingya cause; however, there has not been large-scale adoption of Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh’s ideology by Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. In addition to exploiting community dissatisfaction with government policy to recruit from potentially dissatisfied Muslim groups, Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh has also used cultural events for both recruitment and fundraising. Crime is also reported to be a source of fundraising for Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh, as is raising funds via hundi—a type of remittance system.

Links to other terrorist organisations

Although Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh is not reported to be an official AQ-affiliate organisation, it is likely to be linked to AQIS. Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh’s use of an online forum affiliated with AQIS to claim responsibility for an attack—and the inclusion of the AQIS logo as part of that claim—also indicates a broad alignment with AQ-ideology.

Directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts

Since Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh was first listed on 9 June 2018, Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh has continued to conduct terrorist attacks, and is assessed as responsible or can reasonably be assessed as responsible for the following terrorist attacks and actions:

  • 29 April 2019 – Two Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh militants were killed when their improvised explosive devices detonated during a standoff with police at a house in Bosila, Bangladesh.
  • 12 December 2018 – Three Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh members arrested in Dhaka were reportedly planning targeted killings and terror attacks during New Year celebrations. The three men were arrested with 30 commando knives and 1.5 kilograms of explosives.
  • 5 October 2018 – Two Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh members were killed when they detonated an improvised explosive device in an apparent suicide attack during a stand-off with Bangladeshi Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) members in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
  • 24 July 2018 – Two Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh militants arrested were reportedly planning to undertake an attack in the national capital area in New Delhi, India.
  • 1 July 2018 – Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh claimed responsibility for the 11 June 2018 murder of Shahjahan Bachchu, a secular blogger in Bangladesh.

On the basis of these examples, Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh is responsible for directly or indirectly engaging in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts.

Other considerations

Links to Australia and threats to Australian interests

There are no known direct links between Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh and Australia. Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh targets the secular Bangladeshi state and non-Muslim religious symbols. Australians may be incidentally harmed in attacks undertaken at tourist sites, but Australians are unlikely to be directly targeted by Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh. Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh is assessed not to have reach into Australia.

Listings by the United Nations or likeminded countries

Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh is listed as a proscribed terrorist organisation by the government of the United Kingdom.

Engagement in peace or mediation processes

Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh is not engaged in any peace or mediation processes with the Bangladeshi or Indian Governments.

Conclusion

On the basis of the above information, the Australian Government assesses that Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts.

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