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 Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh

Also known as: Islamic State-Bangladesh, Islamic State of Iraq and Levant-Bangladesh Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Bangladesh, Jamaat Mujahideen Bangladesh, Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, Jamaat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh, Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh, JMB and Neo-JMB

This statement is based on publicly available information about Jama'at Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). To the Australian Government's knowledge, this information is accurate, reliable and has been corroborated by classified information.

Basis for listing a terrorist organisation

Division 102 of the Criminal Code provides that for an organisation to be listed as a terrorist organisation, the 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

The Australian Government has not previously proscribed JMB as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code.

Terrorist activity of the organisation

Objectives

JMB is an Islamist extremist group which aims to establish an Islamic state in Bangladesh and broader South Asia through violence. Since its formation in 1998 by Sheikh Abdur Rahman, JMB has expanded its targeting to include religious minorities and non-Muslim foreigners. This coincided with the group establishing greater linkages to and influence by Islamic State (a listed terrorist organisation) members, including in Syria, which began in 2015. The November 2015 issue of Islamic State's propaganda magazine Dabiq, stated several militant groups in Bangladesh had come under the leadership of JMB.

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

JMB has conducted attacks in Bangladesh and across the region since its formation in pursuit of its objectives listed above. Attacks in Bangladesh claimed by Islamic State are likely to have been conducted by JMB members. Attacks conducted by, or reasonably attributable to, JMB include:

  • On 25 March 2017, JMB members killed six people and injured more than 50 others in a suicide attack in Sylhet.
  • On 17 March 2017, JMB conducted a suicide attack against a Rapid Action Battalion camp in Dhaka- the assailant was the sole casualty of the attack.
  • On 1 July 2016, five JMB members killed 22 people, including 18 foreigners, at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka.
  • On 25 December 2015, a JMB suicide bomber attacked an Ahmadi mosque in Dhaka, injuring three people.
  • On 18 November 2015, JMB members killed Italian priest Piero Parolari  in Mirzapur.
  • 23-24 October 2015, one person was killed and at least 60 injured in a suicide bombing attack at a Shi'ite mosque in Dhaka.
  • On 5 October 2015, Christian priest Luke Sarkar      was killed and six suspected members of JMB were arrested in relation to his murder.
  • On 3 October 2015, JMB militants attacked and killed Japanese national Kunio Hoshi in Kaunia.
  • On 28 September 2015, JMB militants killed Italian national Cesare Tavella in Dhaka.
  • On 17 August 2005, JMB conducted a series of 459 synchronised bombings across Bangladesh, killing three people and injuring more than 100 others.
  • On 13 February 2003, JMB reportedly conducted seven bombing attacks in Jinajpur, injuring three people.

A number of JMB members have been killed or arrested who are believed to have been at various stages of planning and preparing for terrorist attacks. For example:

  • On 1 February 2018, two suspected JMB members were arrested in India with 50 kilograms of explosives, and were suspected of planting improvised explosive devices targeting the Dalai Lama during his January 2018 visit to India.
  • On 12 January 2018, three JMB militants were killed by Bangladeshi counter-terrorism authorities in Dhaka. The group planned to attack important establishments in Dhaka and law enforcement establishments. 
  • On 31 October 2017, Bangladeshi police arrested a pilot with state-run Biman Bangladesh Airlines on suspicion of planning with JMB members to crash a plane into the homes of politicians or to take passengers hostage.
  • On 5 September 2017, Bangladeshi police killed JMB militant Mir Akramul Karim Abdullah during a raid. Police seized large amounts of explosives and material for its manufacture. Abdullah was believed by authorities to have been planning to conduct a large-scale attack using explosives.  
  • On 15 August 2017, Bangladesh police conducted a raid at Hotel Olio in Bangladesh when a suspected JMB militant detonated an explosive device. Bangladeshi officials claim he planned to conduct an attack later that day on a crowd gathering for National Mourning Day.
  • On 8 October 2016, 12 JMB members were killed in a series of raids, during which police discovered firearms and ammunition, sharp weapons, bomb-making materials and jihadi literature.
  • On 29 August 2016, two senior JMB members were killed in a police raid. During the raid, police found a pistol, ammunition, two homemade bombs, other bomb-making materials and a knife.
  • On 27 August 2016, three JMB members were killed in a police raid, at which police found an AK-22 rifle, one pistol, ammunition and four live grenades.

Advocating the doing of terrorist acts

JMB has publicly advocated terrorist attacks in order to further its objectives. An interview in Islamic State's April 2016 edition of their propaganda magazine Dabiq, outlines Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif's claim that he is the leader of Islamic State members in Bangladesh and his calls for Bangladeshis to perform violent jihad as it is an ‘obligation on every capable Muslim'. Al-Hanif is assessed to be identical with senior JMB member Sarwar Jahan, leader of the extremist cell responsible for conducting the attack of the Holey Artisan Café on 1 July 2016.

Details of the organisation

JMB aims to establish an Islamic state in Bangladesh through violent means. It subscribes to Islamic State's anti‑Western ideology and considers non-Muslim foreigners to be legitimate targets for attack.

Leadership

Leadership figures within JMB frequently change as a result of counter-terrorism activities by the Bangladeshi security services The JMB leadership is drawn from experienced militants who have had a long association with the group. 

During a raid of his residence on 5 September 2017, Mir Akramul Karim Abdullah identified himself as a leader of JMB. Prior to the raid, 35 senior JMB senior leaders had been present but had departed. Abdullah's comments indicates an organised JMB leadership exists that might prove resilient to the current Bangladeshi security agencies' counter-terrorism approach.

Membership

The number of JMB members is difficult to specify. However, since the July 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack, Bangladeshi authorities have reportedly killed dozens of suspected JMB members and arrested hundreds more.

Recruitment and funding

JMB recruits members across Bangladeshi society, ranging from rural working-class individuals to young university-educated individuals. JMB has also sought to recruit members within the Bangladeshi diaspora, predominantly in South East Asian countries. 

The amount and source of JMB's funding is largely unknown. However, JMB has been identified receiving funding from Syria-based Islamic State member Siful Sujan prior to his death in 2015.

Links to other terrorist organisations

Since 2015, Islamic State has increased its influence on, and linkages with JMB. Many of the attacks conducted by JMB since mid-2015 have been claimed by  Islamic State.  The JMB members responsible for the July 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack, received advice from a Syria-based Islamic State member during the attack.

In his interview with Islamic State's propaganda magazine Dabiq, published in April 2016, Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif states militants in Bangladesh associated with Islamic State (that is, JMB members) are in contact with Islamic State–Khorasan Province: ‘By the grace of Allah, we are able to connect and cooperate with the mujahidin of the various wilayat of the Khilafah, including the brothers in Wilayat Khurasan'.

Threats to Australian interests

JMB subscribes to Islamic State's anti-Western ideology and would consider Australians to be legitimate targets for attack. JMB targeted foreigners during the July 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack—the bakery is located in Gulshan district in Bangladesh's capital of Dhaka, which is where many Western diplomatic missions, including Australia's, are located.

Listed by the United Nations or like-minded countries

JMB is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the United States (under ISIL-Bangladesh) and the United Kingdom.

Engagement in peace or mediation processes

JMB is not and has not been a participant in peace or mediation processes.

Conclusion

On the basis of the above information, ASIO assesses that JMB is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts or advocates the doing of terrorist acts.

In the course of pursuing its objectives, JMB is known to have committed or threatened actions that:

  1. cause, or could cause, death, serious harm to persons, serious damage to property, endangered life (other than the life of the person taking the action), or create a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public;
  2. are intended to have those effects;
  3. are done with the intention of advancing JMB's political, religious or ideological causes;
  4. are done with the intention of intimidating the government of one or more foreign countries; and
  5. are done with the intention of intimidating the public or sections of the public.