Bangladesh bans al Qaida affiliate Ansar Al Islam
Bangladesh has been rattled by a spate of militant attacks since February 2013. (Representative image) Photograph: (Reuters)
Bangladesh has banned militant outfit Ansar Al Islam today, a spokesperson of the country's home affairs ministry confirmed this to WION.
The outfit is an affiliate of the al Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and is responsible for killing LGBT activist Xulhaz Mannan and blogger Nazimuddin Samad in Dhaka last April among others.
The banning of the outfit, which has been in the radar of Bangladeshi investigators, means that the government will show no tolerance to the group, explained Shafqat Munir, research fellow at Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies.
"Proscription takes the effort to a different level and also blemishes the group for its activities," he told WION.
This is the seventh such organisation that the internal affairs ministry has banned. Among the others include Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, Ansar Bangla Team and Hizbut Tahrir.
Bangladesh home affairs minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal denied the existence of the al Qaida or the Islamic State in the country. The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime in Bangladesh has also said that they have not found any involvement of the global terrorist outfits in any of the militant attacks.
At least 47 people have been murdered since 2013. Almost all militant attacks including the cafe attack last July in Dhaka were claimed either by the Islamic State (IS) or the AQIS.
CTTC chief Monirul Islam told WION earlier that most of the attacks claimed by the IS were carried out by members of the Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh while the attacks claimed by the AQIS were perpetrated by the Ansar Al Islam, which was formerly known as Ansar Bangla Team.
"It is an extremely lethal group and a major national security challenge. We have to be constantly on guard regarding their activities," said Munir, who also heads Bangladesh Centre for Terrorism Research.
The home ministry has offered $25,000 (BDT 20,00,000) bounty on Syed Ziaul Haque, who is the chief of Ansar Al Islam. Haque is also a former defence personnel sacked from the army.
Bangladesh has been rattled by a spate of militant attacks since February 2013 following the youth movement titled Ganajagaran Mancha, which demanded capital punishment for all war collaborators through a war tribunal deemed controversial by rights groups, civil society and legal experts.
The militant attacks were first waged on bloggers identifying themselves as atheists but later on spread out to academicians, publishers, writers, and people belonging to the religious minority.