Should the Muslim Brotherhood Debate Include Another Rogue Islamist Party?

by Abha Shankar
IPT News
April 7, 2017

A leading Islamist party recently demanded punishment for bloggers who “insult” Islam and condemned the execution of the murderer of a prominent politician who spoke up against his country’s rigid blasphemy laws. The Islamist party also blamed the U.S.-led war on terror for the rise in global jihadism and the destruction of Islamic civilization.

For those of you wondering, the Islamist party in question is not the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, or Muslim Brotherhood (MB), whose designation as a terrorist organization is currently a hot topic of debate in Washington. Rather, it is the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), a South Asian Sunni revivalist movement that has an active network in North America and the West.

The Islamist movement often defends terrorists and rationalizes attacks against Western targets, in addition to working to advance a rigid interpretation of Islam in the U.S. and other secularly-governed nations. The debate over political action against Islamist parties, therefore, does not stop with the Muslim Brotherhood.

JI’s recent blasphemy push provides an example of that thinking in action.

In a press release, Sirajul Haq, the leader of JI’s Pakistan affiliate, condemned the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who had killed former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, a fierce opponent of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Haq also called on Pakistan’s political leadership “not to link terrorism with Islam…to please colonial powers,” and alleged “that the enemy was trying to destroy the Islamic civilization and values and to promote its obscener [sic] and nude culture.”

Haq had earlier described Qadri’s hanging as the “darkest moment in the country’s history” and said that by executing him, the Pakistani government “had proved itself a slave of US President Obama and not a slave of the Holy Prophet.” He added that “the government had executed one Mumtaz Qadri but now every youth and [sic] grown up in the country would turn into Mumtaz Qadri.”

JI’s Ideological Similarities with the MB

The JI was founded in 1941 in Lahore, Pakistan (then part of British India) by Islamist scholar Maulana Syed Abdul Ala Maududi. Maududi is a leading pioneer of Islamic revivalism in South Asia who was inspired by the Brotherhood ideology. Maududi also had a profound influence on Sayyid Qutb, a leading Muslim Brotherhood ideologue who has been described as the “father of modern Islamist fundamentalism.” Qutb is believed to have also inspired al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Soon after the Arab Spring protests led to the ouster of the Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt, top Brotherhood and JI leaders met in Cairo to “strengthen the relations between the Islamic movements in different countries ” and “promote Islam.”

JI’s primary objective in Pakistan “is to implement Sharia” and “make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state” based on the “model of the state of Madina,” the multi-religious Islamic state established by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the 7th century.

Although the MB has a deeper foundation and wider network in North America, the front groups of the JI—Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and its charitable arm ICNA Relief—also have an active and long-term presence.

ICNA and ICNA Relief collaborate extensively with MB front groups in the U.S. and Canada. For example, ICNA annually partners with the Muslim American Society (MAS) to host its national conventions that feature radical speakers who advocate jihad and call for the elimination of Israel. MAS was created in 1993 as the Brotherhood’s arm in the U.S.

Both ICNA and ICNA Relief are listed as members of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella group featuring several groups tied to the American Muslim Brotherhood. It was launched in March 2014 to lobby Congress to enforce an Islamist agenda on U.S. counterterrorism efforts, as well as on issues concerning American Muslims and the larger Muslim ummah (community).

ICNA’s educational programs feature staunch Islamist ideologues, and Maududi’s books have been promoted on the website of ICNA’s youth division, “Young Muslims.”

After trying him in absentia, a Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal sentenced to death ICNA’s former vice president and leader of its New York chapter Ashrafuzzman Khan on charges connected to the kidnapping and murder of several intellectuals during the country’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. The tribunal claimed Khan was the “chief executor” of the killing squad, Al-Badr, a militant offshoot of the Jamaat-e-Islami. Following accusations of alleged war crimes against Khan, ICNA scrubbed the names of executive board members, including Khan, from its web page.

Khan still is believed to be in New York. But others convicted by the tribunal have been executed, drawing criticism from ICNA as a “shameful act of judicial killing which is part of the ongoing brutal persecution of political opponents” in Bangladesh.

The Muslim Brotherhood also condemned the executions and called on the global community to “reject and condemn these unjust and unfair trials that violate all international norms and conventions….”

The Brotherhood’s website described JI leader Mir Quasem, who was executed in September after being convicted of running the lethal Al-Badr militia, as an “icon of freedom and resistance against tyranny.”

Quasem’s “martyrdom” was compared to that of MB ideologue Sayyid Qutb in 1966: “When the Egyptian regime executed Sayyid Qutb in 1966, they thought they killed his ideas and ideology; but—as tyrants do in every era and place—they unintentionally immortalized him, inadvertently spread his ideas, and unwittingly introduced the people to his call—his ideology.”

JI Leaders Featured As Speakers at ICNA Events

Yusuf Islahi, a leader of JI’s Indian affiliate (JI Hind), is scheduled to speak at the upcoming MAS-ICNA convention in Baltimore. Islahi, a chief patron of ICNA’s dawah or proselytizing project, WhyIslam, has spoken at past MAS-ICNA conferences. In a 2009 interview, Islahi criticized the Western interest-based economic system: “A society where interest is accepted and becomes widespread is disliked to such an extent that both Allah and His Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, are at war with them.”

At a 2001 JI Hind event hosted in the Indian city of Aligarh, Islahi reportedly blamed Jews for the 9/11 attacks, which he described as a fitting response to American arrogance: “[T]he September 11 event is a well-planned conspiracy to defame Islam. Muslims are being blamed for it without any evidence. Everyone knows who is the real culprit, Jews …. The United States has unjustly and arrogantly ruled the world for too long. Allah has destroyed that arrogance on September 11. God willing, this will also inaugurate the age of Islam the world over.”

ICNA’s invitations to JI leaders to speak at its events goes back a long way. Former JI leader Qazi Hussein Ahmed, for example, was a featured speaker at ICNA’s 1999 convention in Baltimore. In an interview the same year with ICNA’s newsmagazine Message International, Ahmad spoke about the role Islamist movements such as the JI and MB play in creating an Islamic state: “The Islamic movements through out [sic] the world under the guidance of Maulana Syed Abdul A’la Maudoodi (r) and Shaheed Hasan al-Banna (r) and many other prominent Muslim leaders and scholars and Mujahideen have adopted the same attitude and the same process which was evolved by the Prophet of Allah. Call the people towards Allah and to train and purify them, organize them into Jama’ah and work for the service of mankind. In this process we will create an Islamic society, an Islamic government and an Islamic state.”

The late Ghulam Azam, a former leader of JI’s Bangladesh chapter, also spoke at the 1999 convention. Azam was sentenced to 90 years in prison for committing war crimes during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence. Hamas leader Sheikh Muhammad Siyam also was part of the 1999 convention.

JI’s Support for Terror

JI affiliates in Bangladesh and Pakistan criticize the United States, openly voice support for terrorist groups and praise their leaders. For example, people like Osama bin Laden never die, former JI Pakistan leader Syed Munawar Hasan said in a 2014 video. They continue to live in the people’s hearts people and give voice to their people, he said. Hasan described Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud’s killing of in a U.S. drone strike as “martyrdom.” He called the U.S. an enemy of Pakistan: “America was our enemy yesterday, it is so today, and tomorrow too it will not refrain from enmity against us.”

The JI has provided an ideological platform and recruiting base for terrorist groups in South Asia. One example is the Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HuM), a Kashmiri jihadist group that emerged in 1989 as JI’s militant wing.

The U.S. designated HuM as a foreign terrorist organization in 2004. In a recent video, HuM commander Zakir Rashid Bhat noted that the Kashmiri people’s struggle for independence was “nationalistic” and was “haraam” (“not permissible”) in Islam. “Nationalism and democracy are not permissible in Islam,” he said. HuM has been behind several terrorist attacks in Kashmir. In 2013, HuM claimed responsibility for an attack on an Indian police camp in Kashmir that killed five security personnel.

JI’s former student wing in India, the Student Islamic Movement of India or SIMI has been implicated in some of the deadliest terror attacks in the country. The group has been banned in India and is alleged to have links to terrorist groups such as the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Nurul Islam Marzan, one of the masterminds behind the July terror attack on a Dhaka café that killed 17 foreigners, helped lead a group with alleged ties to the banned Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and was active in JI’s student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS) at Chittagong University. Suspects in the 2013 murder of blogger and activist Ahmed Rajib Haider reportedly acted on orders from an ICS leader.

The Jamaat-e-Islami global network’s support for a totalitarian Islamist ideology provides an environment conducive to the radicalization of future terrorists. The Islamist movement’s active presence in the U.S. and the West, its defense of terrorists, condemnation of U.S. foreign policy, justification of terror attacks against the U.S. and its allies, and rejection of Western democratic values and ideals make it relevant in the debate about designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. The Islamist threat is not isolated to one source.

Countering Islamist Extremism the Right Way

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Groups that preach Islamism must not be relied upon to counter violent extremism.

National Review, by Sam Westrop, Feb. 22, 2017:

As part of President Trump’s unapologetic promise to defeat “radical Islam,” critics expect an overhaul of the previous administration’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program. Under Obama, officials adopted counter-extremism policies that European politicians tried over a decade ago and have since deeply regretted.

To tackle the threat of Islamism, the new administration must identify and challenge the specific groups and networks within American Islam that advocate extremist ideas, or officials may inadvertently repeat Obama’s practice of legitimizing Islamists as leaders of all American Muslims.

The British Experience
In 2005, a month after the 7/7 London bombings, the British journalist Martin Bright sought answers to a question that, somehow, no one in government or the media had ever thought to ask before: Who exactly were the people in charge of the Muslim community, and what did they believe?

After the Salman Rushdie riots in 1988, the British government blindly accepted the claims of self-declared community leaders to be representative voices of British Muslims. The government gave these leaders millions and millions of dollars of community funds, and, after 9/11, counter-extremism grants.

Bright’s investigation, however, revealed something quite different from what these Muslim leaders had been telling credulous politicians. The leading recipient of taxpayer funds, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), was in fact run by a violent Islamist group from South Asia, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), which had close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and had been involved in the mass killing of Bangladeshis during that nation’s 1971 Independence War.

The government embraced Islamist groups such as the MCB so tightly that, as Bright revealed in 2005, Britain’s foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and MCB leader Iqbal Sacranie (an early supporter of Iran’s fatwa for the killing of Salman Rushdie) even used the same speechwriter. With the MCB in charge, Muslim organizations could not receive government backing for projects without the MCB’s stamp of approval. Naturally, the Islamists prospered. Moderate Muslims, meanwhile, were left without a voice.

Over the next decade, the true extent of Islamism’s grip over British Islam was slowly revealed, thanks to a motley collection of journalists, bloggers, and anti-Islamist Muslims willing to challenge government wisdom. Prison chaplains, it emerged, had been chosen primarily from the Deobandi sect, a hard-line branch of South Asian Islam from which the Taliban had emerged. Taxpayer-funded schools in Birmingham, the U.K.’s second-largest city, had been taken over by a network of Islamists who preached hard-line Islamist rhetoric to young children. Compelling evidence was uncovered to show that prominent Muslim charities controlled by JI and the Muslim Brotherhood were funding terrorism abroad. Counter-extremism funds were being handed to Salafist and Jamaat-e-Islami groups. And in 2009, the Labour government cut off ties completely with the Muslim Council of Britain after its officials were found to be signatories to the Istanbul Declaration, a document that advocated attacks on British troops and Jewish communities.

By 2011, the new Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, understood enough to signal a distinct change in government policy, telling the Munich Security Conference:

As evidence emerges about the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were initially influenced by what some have called “non-violent extremists,” and they then took those radical beliefs to the next level by embracing violence. . . . Some organizations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism. As others have observed, this is like turning to a right-wing fascist party to fight a violent white supremacist movement.

The British government overhauled its counter-extremism programs and cut off dozens of Islamist groups from taxpayer funding. Politicians and journalists learned a very important lesson about Western Islam: It is a diverse mix of dozens of different political and religious sects, which includes both violent and non-violent extremists. No single group could represent all Western Muslims, and it was only by delineating British Islam into its diverse, competing constituents that extremism could be effectively tackled and suitable Muslim allies identified. After all, if policymakers did not know which networks and groups within Western Islam were the bad guys, then how could they learn who the good guys were?

As increasingly radicalized Muslim communities across Europe produced eager volunteers for jihad at home and abroad, governments finally began to understand what moderate Muslims had been desperately trying to tell them for years: Non-violent Islamism is not a bulwark against violent Islamism. Extremists are not allies in the fight against extremism.

Meanwhile, in America
Across the Atlantic, American officials distinctly failed to note the lessons that Europe has learned the hard way. The Obama administration’s foreign policy treated Islamists as forces of democratization, and its domestic policy legitimized Islamists as gatekeepers to the Muslim community.

First envisioned in 2011, the Obama administration’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program promised to “support and help empower American communities and their local partners in their grassroots efforts to prevent violent extremism.” In February 2015, the government launched CVE pilot programs in Boston, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. To kick things off, the White House hosted a three-day summit. Writing about the conference in the Los Angeles Times, Obama reiterated that the “focus” of CVE “will be on empowering local communities.”

Whom exactly was the White House empowering? Representing the pilot program in Boston, leaders from the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) and the Islamic Center of New England (ICNE) were invited to the White House summit. The ISB was established by the al-Qaeda operative Abdulrahman Alamoudi, who was jailed in 2004 for his role in a Libyan plot to assassinate a Saudi crown prince. The mosque’s trustees have included prominent Islamist operatives, such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood. According to a report published jointly by Muslims Facing Tomorrow and Americans for Peace and Tolerance, twelve congregants, supporters, staff, and donors of the ISB have been imprisoned, deported, or killed or are on the run — all in relation to terrorism offenses.

The ICNE was once a moderate local mosque, until its imam was ousted by Abdulbadi Abousamra (the father of ISIS terrorist Ahmad Abousamra) and Muhammad Hafiz Masood, who is now a spokesman for the Pakistani terrorist organization Jamaat-ud-Dawah. Masood’s brother, Hafiz Saeed, is responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks and was arrested this month by Pakistani law enforcement.

Taking part in the government’s CVE program was not just an opportunity for Islamists to rub shoulders with America’s political elite; it was also a chance to obtain taxpayers’ money. As part of the Boston CVE pilot program, a group based at the ISB named United Somali Youth received over $100,000, despite having initially joined protests against the CVE organized by Islamist groups, which claimed that the program was designed to demonize Muslims.

In 2016, despite widespread media criticism of the CVE pilot programs, Congress approved a further $10 million of CVE grants. As Obama was leaving office, the Department of Homeland Security awarded $393,800 to the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), an organization with a long history of ties to extremism. MPAC was founded by individuals closely involved with the Muslim Brotherhood. Its founder, Maher Hathout, declared that the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah was “fighting to liberate their land” and exhibiting “an American value — freedom and liberty.” Before being offered almost half a million dollars, MPAC had also expressed opposition to the CVE program.

Another $800,000 of taxpayers’ money was awarded to Bayan Claremont (an Islamic graduate school in Claremont, Calif.), whose president, Jihad Turk, was recently a member of the executive council of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). In 2008, federal prosecutors named ISNA as an unindicted co-conspirator during the Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial. A judge later ruled that “the government has produced ample evidence” connecting Hamas and ISNA. Bayan Claremont faculty includes Ihsan Bagby, a former senior member of the Council on American–Islamic Relations, which was also designated an unindicted co-conspirator in 2008; Suhaib Webb, a former imam of the ISB who decries the “evil inclination” of homosexuality and “understands . . . animosity” towards Jews; and Edina Lekovic, an MPAC official who was the managing editor of an Islamist student magazine that, in 1999, called on Muslims to “defend” Bin Laden as a “freedom fighter.”

To flaunt its anti-Trump credentials, Bayan Claremont recently returned the $800,000 it received, despite successfully applying for the grant under Obama. Regardless, are these really the “community” leaders that the government’s “countering violent extremism” program should empower?

Making America Safe Again?
The Trump administration’s plans for CVE are not fully known. Most recently, White House sources announced that CVE would focus solely on Islamic extremism and would be renamed “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.” Under Obama, all White House, Homeland Security, and Justice Department documents concerning CVE conspicuously omitted any mention of “Islam” or “Islamism.” Clearly, we should be pleased that the new administration is prepared to name the issue that occupies headline news almost every day. But we still do not know what Trump’s counter-extremism plans actually entail, although it seems unlikely that Muslim Brotherhood groups will receive more government grants.

Among moderate Muslims, however, there is some concern that a ham-fisted approach could be just as ineffective as Obama’s flawed ideas. If Trump fails to delineate American Islam into its various components, and instead treats all American Muslims as part of the same problem, then the government will find it impossible to tackle extremism effectively.

By cataloguing and excluding the “lawful” or “non-violent” extremists now in America, and the role they play in the radicalization of American Muslims, the government can work with genuinely moderate Muslim organizations to identify and prevent Islamists from, for example, operating schools and chaplaincy programs, obtaining taxpayer funds under the guise of community work, or using charitable endeavors to fund Islamist terrorism overseas.

President Trump’s former national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, reportedly wanted to “wage ideological warfare” against radical Islam using social media. But, as with all attempts to tackle Internet problems, this would be a Sisyphean task, and a distraction from the threat posed by homegrown extremists, who carry out their most dangerous work offline.

Islamist groups thrive on legitimacy, which they obtain either by being treated as representatives of ordinary Muslims (as happened under Obama) or by leading unifying protests against the government (which is happening under Trump).

American Muslims are not going anywhere, nor should they. Islamism, however, should be fought. To do so, state and federal governments must delegitimize Islamism in political and civic circles. This cannot be achieved without the cooperation of moderate Muslims. Only a considered, intelligent approach to counter-extremism can effectively tackle the Islamists who have gripped American Islam so tightly.

At the cost of whole Muslim communities becoming isolated from Western society, tens of thousands of radicalized Muslim youth joining terrorist groups overseas, and civil unrest increasing, Europe has discovered that the pernicious effect of extremism is just as dangerous as an explosive act of terrorism. In America, let’s not learn these lessons too late.

— Sam Westrop is a fellow of the Gatestone Institute and a writer for Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

REVEALED: Imams Preaching Saudi-Imported Hate Texts In British Jails

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Breitbart, by DONNA RACHEL EDMUNDS, April 19, 2016

Muslim chaplains working within Britain’s prison system have been routinely distributing Islamist hate literature, leaving extremist pamphlets preaching death to non-believers and hatred of the West within easy reach of inmates, a leaked review has revealed.

The Ministry of Justice, who has oversight for chaplaincy appointments within prisons, is understood to have issued an urgent internal alert warning of “severe reputation damage” thanks to the extremist nature of the material.

The compact discs (CDs) and leaflets, some of which were imported from Saudi Arabia, contain homophobic and misogynistic messages, as well as inciting hatred against non-Muslims and Western culture. Yet it was left by the Muslim chaplains on library bookshelves where inmates were free to come and peruse it, The Times has reported.

Lack of scrutiny inside the jails paired with weak corporate guidance meant that there was very little or even no assessment of the material before it was released to “impressionable minds”, the leaked report said.

And it found that the chaplains at several jails had been encouraging inmates to raise funds for Islamic charities with links to extremist organisations and international terrorism, warning that failings at senior levels within the prison service had created a breeding ground for Islamic radicalisation.

Others of Britain’s approximately 100 Muslim chaplains were unaware of their statutory duty to prevent inmates being drawn into extremism, or were under-equipped to take on counter-radicalisation work “sometimes because they lacked the capability but often because they didn’t have the will”.

The report comes just days after some high security prisons were found to have ‘Sharia blocks,’ where former terrorists and Islamic extremists were taking over and imposing Sharia law on non-Muslim inmates.

Overall, it is said to have “pulled no punches”, taking to task the National Offender Management Service (Noms), the Ministry of Justice executive body that oversees prisons.

“Nobody there has been brave enough to confront and tackle this pernicious ideology,” a Whitehall insider said.

The review, led by a former senior Home Office official and ordered by Justice Secretary Michael Gove, has not yet been released as it is still awaiting clearance from No 10. A summarised version was due to be released last month but has been postponed.

For the last 13 years the process for appointing Muslim chaplains has been overseen by Ahtsham Ali, the prison service’s Muslim adviser. He has previously held senior roles in British organisations with strong links to India’s Jamaat-e-Islami movement, founded by the Islamist theologist Abul Ala Maududi.

Yet despite the report’s findings, Michael Spurr, Noms chief executive, has issued a letter insisting that Mr Ali retained the confidence and support of the organisation.

Meanwhile concern is growing regarding the over-representation within the prison service of chaplains drawn from the Deobandi sect, another Islamic sect founded in India, and the influence they may have on the 12,328 Muslim inmates held in English and Welsh jails, particularly the 1,000 deemed vulnerable to radicalisation.

The Deobandis are the largest sect in the UK, controlling 600 of the UK’s 1,500 mosques, the majority of Britain’s Muslim schools, and turning out 80 percent of all domestically trained scholars. 70 percent of Muslim prison chaplains were trained in Deobandi seminaries.

But although it claims to be moderate, it has hosted the hate preachers who trained the 9/11 bombers, while its schools have been caught disseminating anti-Semitic and misogynistic literature. An offshoot, the slightly more hard-line Tablighi Jamaat, has been described by some as an “Army of Darkness”.

Bangladesh Secularists Continue to be Targeted by Islamists

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Center for Security Policy, by Kevin Samolsky, April 7, 2016:

On Wednesday, April 6, 2016, a Bangladeshi, secular blogger, Mohammed Nazim Uddin was murdered by Islamists for blog posts critical of militant Islam. Uddin was surrounded and hacked to death by men armed with machetes.

Bangladesh has been a dangerous place for those who speak out against Islamists. Since 2013, Islamists have repeatedly targeted secular bloggers, and several of these bloggers have applied for asylum in Western nations.

Bangladeshi bloggers to be killed by Islamists include:

  • Ahmed Rajib Haider hacked to death by men wielding machetes in February of 2013. Haider was a prominent anti-Islamist blogger in Bangladesh who often blogged under the name Thaba Baba.
  • Washiqur Rahman was also killed by men with machetes in March of 2015. Rahman, similar to Haider, wrote under the false name of Kucchit Hasher Channa, which means Ugly Ducking. He was known to have criticized what he described as irrational religious beliefs.
  • Avijit Roy was killed in February of 2015 for championing atheism and tolerance for homosexuality.
  • Islamists murdered Ananta Bijoy Das, a science and secularism blogger, in March of 2015.

Many of these bloggers were members of the Shahbag Movement. The movement is centered around the city of Shahbag, seeking to punish Islamist leaders convicted of war crimes during the bloody 1971 war for independence from Pakistan. The movement became more publicized after their protest against Abdul Quader Mollah, assistant secretary-general of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami party. Between 100,000-500,000 gathered in the street calling for Mollah be put to death for the acts of violence he committed in the 1971 war of independence.

There has been a historical tension between Islamic politics and secularism in Bangladesh. Islam has been Bangladesh’s state religion since 1988, when former dictator H.M. Ershad made the change in order to win over popular support. The same year a petition was filed opposing the declaration, but never ruled upon.

In 2011, the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina began a push to reintroduce secularism in political affairs.  Bangladesh’s three-judge High Court panel recently ruled to formally reject the long dormant petition, a largely symbolic move supported by Bangladesh’s Islamist factions.

Bangladesh is the third largest Muslim country in the world, and is well accustomed to the presence of jihadist organizations. However, the nation has begun to see a rise in the presence of larger, better-known jihadist organizations like the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda (AQ).

Last September, IS made its presence in Bangladesh known when it killed Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella. IS followed up this attack by killing Italian missionary Piero Parolari last November. In 2014, AQ officially stated they had established a new branch called Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). AQIS has claimed responsibility for the killing of several bloggers within Bangladesh since its inception.

Late last year Singapore police arrested 27 Bangladesh jihadists who reportedly followed the teachings of former AQ member, Anwar al-Awlaki. The men mentioned they were encouraged to return to Bangladesh and wage a war against the government. The government’s increased push for a more secular government could lead others to turn jihadists.

While some jihadis look to quell opposition to Islam through force, other groups take a more political approach. Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), established in 1941, seeks to create an Islamic State governed by Sharia law. The group was formally banned by the Bangladesh government in 1971, but was re-activated after a coup in 1975. Since then the group has been able to acquire influence in parliament, and is known to aid terrorist activity.

As the struggle between secularists and Islamists in Bangladesh continues, the small South Asian country risks becoming a hot spot for jihadist organizations. An ex-Bangladesh army intelligence specialist warns that IS has its eye on Bangladesh, as about 30 Bangladeshis have gone to fight in Syria or Iraq.

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Shooter’s Mother Active In US Branch Of Pro-Caliphate Islamic Group

Daily Caller, by Chuck Ross, Dec. 5, 2015:

Rafia Farook, the mother of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook, is an active member of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a Muslim organization that promotes the establishment of a caliphate and has ties to a radical Pakistani political group called Jamaat-e-Islami.

Farook’s affiliation with ICNA was revealed on Friday when MSNBC and other new outlets scoured the Farooks’ apartment in Redlands, Cal. An MSNBC reporter found a certificate of appreciation presented to Safia Farook last summer by ICNA’s sisters’ wing.

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On Wednesday, Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeed Malik, killed 14 people during a holiday party being held for San Bernardino County workers in what the FBI considers a terrorist attack.

Malik reportedly posted a comment to Facebook during the attack stating her allegiance to ISIS. Farook is also believed to have communicated with known terrorists based overseas.

Though ICNA has not been named as a target in the ongoing investigation into Wednesday’s attack, the group has been associated with many others who have engaged in terrorism or plotted to do so. (RELATED: Here’s A Map Of Radical Mosques In The US)

Al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki has spoken at the group’s events. He spoke at an ICNA event in Baltimore in 2002, though the group has said that al-Awlaki was not radicalized at that time. Al-Awlaki exchanged emails with Nidal Hasan, the Army major who killed 13 people in a terrorist attack at Fort Hood in Nov. 2009. Al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011 in Yemen.

Another ICNA member was indicted in April on federal terrorism charges. Noelle Valentzas and another woman were charged with plotting an attack on New York City similar to the attacks at the Boston Marathon.

As The Daily Caller uncovered at the time, Velentzas gave presentations at at least two ICNA events in recent years. One of those, ICNA’s 2012 annual convention, was also attended by Indiana Rep. Andre Carson, one of two Muslims in the House of Representatives. (RELATED: One Of The Women Who Plotted NYC Attack Had Ties To U.S. Islamic Group)

And in 2009, five American students who knew each other from an ICNA mosque in Alexandria, Va. were arrested in Pakistan and charged with plotting to attack American troops in Afghanistan.

Founded in 1968 and is based in Jamaica, N.Y., ICNA is considered one of the more conservative Islamic umbrella organizations operating in the U.S. Unlike other groups like the Islamic Society of North America or the Council on American-Islamic Relations, ICNA segregates men and women at its events, a practice endorsed in the Farook household.

An attorney for the Farooks said on Friday that the family was “very traditional” and that Tashfeen Malik sat with the women at family events. The attorney also said that men in the family had never seen Malik’s face because she wore a burqa. Malik and Farook married last year. She came to the U.S. last summer on a K-1 fiancé visa. The couple leave behind a six-month old daughter.

ICNA is heavily reliant on the teachings of Abul A’la Maududi, the controversial Islamist founder of , a political party operating in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh whose goal is to establish an Islamic state, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

As the ADL notes, an article in ICNA’s “The Message” stated that “using the organizational development methodology of Maulana Mawdudi and the Jamaat Al-Islami of Pakistan, which lays special emphasis on spiritual development, ICNA has developed a strong foundation.”

Maududi “is a jihadi ideologue,” according to the ADL. “He has written that ‘the nation of Jews will be exterminated’ in the end of days.”

In one of his numerous books, Maududi wrote that devout Muslims “would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge [non-Muslims] from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life.”

Maududi’s Islamic supremacy and Jamaat-e-Islami’s alleged involvement in genocide against unarmed Bengalis in 1971 led the Bengali government to outlaw Maududi’s books in 2010.

Though ICNA appears to have distanced itself from Maududi and Jamaat-e-Islami — at least in public — the group still espouses Islamic supremacism with a goal of establishing Islam across the world.

A 2010 handbook given to members of ICNA’s sisters’ wing touts “a united Islamic state, governed by an elected khalifah (caliph) in accordance with the laws of shari’ah (sharia).”

The handbook also states that “leadership of al-Jama’ah (or an Islamic state) has the authority to enforce Sharia’s political, educational, criminal Justice System etc that is beyond the jurisdiction of a jama’ah.”

And according to the Clarion Project, another group which tracks organizations with potential terror ties, ICNA’s literature is full of positive references and citations of Muslim Brotherhood

In one training guide obtained by the Clarion Project, ICNA favorably quoted Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian leader of the Muslim Brotherhood whose writings had influence on al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden.

For its part, ICNA has said it is “appalled” by Wednesday’s attacks. (RELATED: Syed Farook’s Co-Worker Says Citizens ‘Should Be Armed’ [VIDEO])

“As the investigations are still ongoing, we remind the American Muslim community to be extra vigilant and to immediately report any suspicious activity to the law enforcement agencies,” the group said in a statement.

Also see:

Attackers Kill American Writer at Bangladesh Book Fair

by IPT News  •  Feb 26, 2015 

1138A Bangladeshi-American writer who endured threats from Islamists over his secular views was hacked to death in Dhaka late Thursday, reports say.

Avijit Roy, 42, was a naturalized American living in Georgia. He was a frequent critic of radical Islamic doctrine. At least two attackers descended on Roy and his wife, blogger Rafida Ahmed Bonna, near Dhaka University. She was hospitalized with several stab wounds and a severed finger.

No arrests have been made and no suspects identified. But police reportedly found two machetes and a finger at the scene. The couple was in Dhaka to attend an annual national book fair where two of Roy’s works were being promoted.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism profiled Roy last year after death threats against him and a top Bangladeshi bookseller prompted the company to stop selling Roy’s books. He said he felt safe in America, but took the death threats seriously. “Who knows, some miscreants might take him up and act on it.”

The threats came from Islamist Farabi Shafiur Rahman, allegedly a member of the radical Jamaat e Islami, who issued them publicly but remained free.

Rahman noted on Facebook that “Avijit Roy lives in America and so, it is not possible to kill him right now. But he will be murdered when he comes back.” The threat apparently proved all too real Thursday night.

The threat also targeted the bookseller Rokomari.com, invoking the name of blogger Rajib Haidar, who also was hacked to death by Islamists in February 2013. Haidar, known as Thaba Baba, advocated for war crimes tribunals for alleged leaders of the 1971 killings of intellectuals and leaders after Bangladesh’s war of independence against Pakistan. Rokomari stopped selling Roy’s books in response.

In an article last fall, Roy described how his book The Virus of Faith, was well received and became a best-seller at last year’s book fair. But the book also “hit the cranial nerve of fundamentalists,” he wrote. “The death threats started flowing to my inbox on a regular basis. I suddenly found myself to be a target of militant Islamists and terrorists.”

In the essay, Roy discussed the problem of Islamist violence, but struck a defiant tone.

“Well, I am still alive despite Farabi [Rahman]-threats– writing a blog remembering the Blasphemy day,” he wrote. “My books are also going well; at least this is what I hear from my publishers. Apparently, readers did not need Rokomari to get my books … There is nothing much to complain about life right now. But that is not the point I would like to make here.”

Roy died for having ideas that radical Islamists considered blasphemous. He joins martyrs for free expression, like those at Charlie Hebdo who were slaughtered in Paris last month.

U.S. Brotherhood Group Mourns Death of Terror Leader

ICNA president Naeem Baig (left), Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ghulam Azam

ICNA president Naeem Baig (left), Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ghulam Azam

By Ryan Mauro:

The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is again showing its affection for the radical Jamaat-e-Islami group of Pakistan and Bangladesh, a group that it derived from. ICNA was the first to publicly mourn the death of a Jamaat-e-Islami leader and to defend his record, eliciting harsh criticism from some Muslims online.

Jamaat-e-Islami is essentially a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Both are Islamist groups with a history of support for terrorism and who intend to use electoral means to implement Sharia governance. Bangladesh is prosecuting Jamaat-e-Islami leaders for war crimes committed during the country’s 1971 war for independence from Pakistan.

ICNA portrays itself as moderate and its leadership has said that it has “no relations—no links to any organization or any country outside the United States.” The Clarion Project’s profile of ICNA documents its extremism, including its Jamaat-e-Islami and Muslim Brotherhood affiliations.

ICNA’s quest to downplay its links to Jamaat-e-Islami is undermined by its own October 23 press release.

It mourns the death of Ghulam Azam, who led the Jamaat-e-Islami party in Bangladesh from 1991 to 2000. He was in prison after being convicted by a Bangladeshi tribunal on 61 war crimes charges.

Azam was the Ameer of  the East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami during Bangladesh’s war for independence from Pakistan in 1971. He is accused of working with the Pakistani military in its offensives that killed an estimated 3 million people and resulted in the rapes of about a quarter-million women, according to various press accounts.

The Daily Star recounts his role in the atrocities as the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing formed pro-Pakistan militias. Its account includes a picture of Azam with Pakistani general known as “Butcher of Baluchistan.”

Read more at Clarion Project