Bangladesh to execute 10 Islamist militants
Verdict stems from 2005 bombing that killed eight
A JMB militant receives treatment following a blast he triggered in Gazipur in 2005 (Farjana K. Godhuly / AFP)
A Bangladeshi court has handed down the death penalty to 10 members of banned Islamic militant group Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) for their part in a suicide attack in 2005 that killed eight people.
Judge Mohammad Motahar Hossain announced the verdict in a packed Dhaka courtroom yesterday. The judge ordered the 10 to be hanged.
The attack, on Nov 29 2005, near a courthouse in the town of Gazipur, is considered Bangladesh’s first suicide bombing. As well as the bomber, four lawyers and three legal clients were killed.
“The JMB wanted to enforce Islamic sharia in the country. It targeted the judiciary to create panic among people and to press the government to replace secular law with sharia [law],” said Rafiqul Islam, a state prosecutor in the case.
The blast was one of a string of bomb attacks carried out by JMB in 2005, at the height of a sharp rise in Islamic militancy in Muslim-majority Bangladesh.
On 17 August 2005 more than 300 explosions rocked 63 of a total of 64 districts in the country, including the capital Dhaka, prompting widespread concern that the largely moderate Muslim nation was slipping towards an insurgent conflict similar to that being waged by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The JMB also formed kangaroo courts in northern parts of the country and publicly executed people for allegedly violating sharia law. The government had initially denied the presence of Islamic militants in Bangladesh, but after a media outcry it banned JMB and another group, Harkat-ul-Jihad, and arrested their top leaders.
Nasiruddin Allan, executive director at the Dhaka-based rights group Odhikar, says the verdict sends a strong message regarding politically-motivated Islamist violence in the country in recent years.
“Since 2010, we have seen a series of Islamist violence and bloodshed which circled mainly around war crimes trials against Islamist politicians,” said Nasiruddin. “Militants can’t survive without political support and with the death penalty for militants the court stands strongly against militancy, no matter if that’s Islamic or political.”
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