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 Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh

This Statement of Reasons is based on publicly available information about Neo-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

Neo-Jama'at Mujahideen Bangladesh

Known aliases

  • ISIL-B
  • Islamic State of Iraq and Levant Bangladesh
  • Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Bangladesh
  • Islamic State-Bangladesh
  • Islamic State-Banglar Caliphate
  • Islamic State-Bengal, and
  • Neo‑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 (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

Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh was first listed as an alias of Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh under Division 102 of the Criminal Code on 9 June 2018. Following advice from Australian Government agencies, Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh is now considered to be an organisation that operates independently of Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh.

Details of the organisation

Objectives

Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh first emerged in 2014, from formerly al-Qa’ida (AQ)-aligned Bangladesh-based extremists who redirected their support to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This included a significant number of members of the Sunni violent extremist group Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh, many of whom were attracted to the ISIL-aligned group led by Shaykh Ibrahim al-Hanif.

Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh’s overall goals are tied to the broader Islamic State aims of establishing Salafist-oriented Islamic states in the Syria/Iraq region and areas with majority Sunni‑Muslim populations. Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh aims to conduct attacks in India and Bangladesh to destabilise the governments in the region and support the establishment of Islamic states in those areas.

Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh favours ‘lone-wolf’ or small group attacks, which is likely a reflection of the group’s reliance on online engagement and organisation.

Leadership

Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh established its capability and commitment to extremist violence in Bangladesh through the 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack in the diplomatic area of Dhaka, Bangladesh. While this attack has been attributed to both Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh and Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh, the leading figure behind the attack, now-deceased dual Canadian/Bangladeshi citizen Tamim Chowdhury, was a key figure in establishing Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh.

Membership

Accurate figures for Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh’s membership are unknown. A female Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh member detained by Bangladesh authorities in July 2020 revealed the group had approximately 1500 female members across Bangladesh who were also heavily involved in recruitment, but this is likely to be an overstated figure. Furthermore, given the group’s reliance on social media to promote its ideology and recruit members, membership figures may fluctuate if they are recorded at all.

Since the 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack, Bangladesh counter-terrorism operations have significantly hampered the ability of extremist groups to operate in-country. Arrests have included the Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh Women’s Wing leader, reportedly arrested in early February 2020, as well as hundreds of other militants including Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh members.

Funding

Funding of Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh activities is likely to rely on the group’s membership. Reporting indicates some of Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh members—including Tamim Chowdhury—‘donated’ varying amounts between $16,000 and $117,000 to the group. Regardless of the method of fundraising, Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh attacks have continued to occur, indicating the group remains operational despite Bangladesh’s increased counter-terrorism focus.

Links to other terrorist organisations

Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh is assessed to be an affiliate of ISIL’s global network.

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

Since Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh was first listed on 9 June 2018 as an alias of Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh, Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh is assessed as responsible or can be reasonably assessed as responsible for the following terrorist attacks and actions:

  • 16 August 2020 – Bangladeshi authorities disrupted five Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh members planning to attack the Shah Jalah shrine in Sylhet, Bangladesh.
  • 26 July 2020 – Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh members planted a crude bomb in a bag on a policeman’s motorcycle in Dhaka.
  • 28 February 2020 – Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh conducted a remote controlled improvised explosive device blast at a traffic police box in Chittagong.
  • 13 January 2020 – A Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh member was arrested in possession of a petrol bomb and bomb-making materials in Savar’s Ashulia area.

Consistent with its established practice for regional affiliates, ISIL—through its official media outlet—has claimed responsibility for attacks assessed to have been conducted by Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh. For example, ISIL also claimed responsibility for two bombs placed near traffic police boxes at separate intersections in Dhaka on 23 July 2019. The bombs were defused. ISIL also claimed responsibility for a grenade attack on police in Gulistan, Dhaka on 29 April 2019.

Other considerations

Links to Australia and threats to Australian interests

Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh subscribes to Islamic State’s anti-Western ideology, and would consider Australians to be legitimate targets of attacks. Australians may also be incidentally targeted in indiscriminate attacks such as the 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack in Dhaka. The 9 February 2018 lone-actor stabbing attack in Melbourne was conducted by a Bangladeshi student who was reportedly a Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh member, although it is unclear the extent to which Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh was involved in the planning of this attack.

More broadly, Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh ideology and objectives have not resonated in the Australian Bangladeshi community.

Listings by the United Nations or likeminded countries

Neo-Jama’at Mujahideen Bangladesh is listed as a proscribed terrorist organisation by the governments of Canada and the United States under the name Islamic State-Bangladesh

Engagement in peace or mediation processes

Neo-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 Neo-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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