Apart from the October 9 attacks, the militants carried out 11 additional strikes all over the infected areas killing seven members of the army and wounding three others, the Myanmar government claims.
In a video released on October 12, HaY spokesperson Ata Ullah or Ayatullah declared jihad against the Myanmar government. After two weeks, HaY issued a statement calling for international intervention to help Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, and declared that its “people” will free themselves from “oppressors.”
The HaY group later released several videos in a desperate move to seek wide support from like-minded outfits. And they are apparently successful.
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Under the circumstances, the armed Rohingya groups may launch further attacks on the Myanmar forces if the government does not take effective measures.
The Bangladesh government was initially tough towards the Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar, but later allowed around 70,000 to enter the country. The law enforcers also handed over two wanted members of the HaY group to the Myanmar authorities for investigation.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for concerted efforts by world leaders to solve the growing Rohingya crisis.
Supports expressed quickly
Meanwhile, applauding HaY fighters for their “bravery,” regional and Middle East-based militant outfits including al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Taliban and Islamic State have urged the Muslim youths of Bangladesh and Myanmar to wage all-out war against the Myanmar forces.
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Militant group al-Qaeda’s Bangladesh offshoot Ansar al-Islam has already extended support to HaY and asked the Rohingyas and the Muslim youths of Bangladesh to join the fight in a public statement issued on December 15.
They have opened several YouTube channels and Facebook accounts, and released some inciting videos using both fake and true contents, along with some recent contents released by the HaY group.
In late November, a pro-Islamic State Telegram channel suggested that Muslims in the United Kingdom who cannot go to Myanmar to help their brethren can attack the country’s embassy and ambassador at home.
The Salafist group has claimed 26 attacks, including the Gulshan restaurant attack, in Bangladesh since September 2015 killing 45 people, many of whom are Hindus. The IS last year warned that their members would attack India and Myanmar from its base in Bangladesh.
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On November 30, jihadist activity monitoring website SITE Intelligence Group said that the Afghan Taliban had reiterated its call to Muslims as well as Islamic charitable organisations to take action in support of their brethren in Myanmar, and condemned what it sees as global silence to the ongoing “genocide.”
The regional and international terrorist outfits that have been instigating armed attacks in Myanmar since 2012 include al-Qaeda, AQIS, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Afghan Taliban, Islamic State, Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement of Somalia, Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Iraq-based Ansar al-Islam, Lebanon-based Fatah al-Islam and Al-Faroq Media of Egypt.
After the October crackdown began, Bangladesh’s banned outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir has asked Bangladesh Army to take stand against Myanmar to avenge the persecution of the Rohingyas.
[caption id="attachment_47320" align="aligncenter" width="670"]
Map of Bangladesh-Myanmar border at Teknar Google Map
Two other banned outfits Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh (HujiB) and Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), who have long been associated with the Rohingya militant groups, did not issue any statement.
Among Bangladesh’s Islamist parties and groups, Jamaat-e-Islami, Hefazat-e-Islam and Islami Andolon Bangladesh among others have been campaigning across the country rigorously to wage a strong movement against the oppression of Myanmar military. IAB of Chormonai Pir even announced a long-march towards Myanmar from Dhaka via Teknaf, a Cox’s Bazar upazila dominated by Rohingyas.
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The Islamist groups – some of who were behind the rise of militant outfits – are also raising funds at mosques, madrasas, religious conferences (waz) and even on the streets to help the Rohingyas who have taken shelter in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, indigenous rebel groups in Myanmar’s north along China have also launched armed attacks on the military, putting the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi under huge pressure as the threat of existing Rohingya-dominated militant outfits like RSO and Aqa Mul Mujahideen (AMM) are also active at the moment.
RSO, a brand
The RSO (Rohingya Solidarity Organisation) reportedly started regrouping in June 2012 after a communal riot broke in Rakhine and on June 8 the group declared Rakhine as an independent Islamic state. Later they beefed up activities in bordering Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar districts to collect fighters from among the Rohingya youths and the local militant groups and train them for the jihad.
According to detectives, all the militant groups of Bangladesh have been working in concert since late 2014 since their aim is the same – establishing an Islamic state incorporating parts of Bangladesh, Myanmar and India by 2020.
The little-known AMM group was blamed by the Myanmar government in a statement issued on the October 9 attacks and one of its leaders was named as Ata Ullah, a former refugee at a Rohingya camp in Bangladesh. The statement also added that he had remained missing since the attack on an Ansar outpost outside a refugee camp in Teknaf on May 12, 2016.
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In several video messages released on YouTube after the attack, Ata Ullah – the alleged spokesperson of HaY – called for all-out war against the Myanmar government, but did not take responsibility.
The HaY second man recently took credit for the attacks that killed nine members of Myanmar Border Police During in an exclusive interview with the Dhaka Tribune. Its leaders said that they had retreated for now due to the military operations.
It could not be confirmed independently whether HaY and AMM were the same organisation. But according to Rapid Action Battalion, the 10 people they have arrested over the Ansar camp attack were Rohingyas.
Recent Rohingya-linked militant activities
RSO leaders, among others, were also behind the attacks on Buddhist localities and temples in Ramu in September 2012, police said. The mastermind of the attacks, Tofail Ahmed, also a Jamaat leader, had allegedly been under the shelter of the RSO after the attacks.
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The group reportedly has training camps in Bandarban’s remote areas where many JMB leaders took training. According to the police, the JMB bought land in Bandarban to set up shelters and train militants.
In November 2014, police arrested five people including two top RSO leaders – Salamatullah and Shafiullah – in Chittagong while distributing money received from two Saudi financiers.
Salamatullah is a Jamaat leader and chief organiser of the RSO in Cox’s Bazar, police said. He was also involved in the Ramu attacks. On the other hand, previously a leader of Jamaat’s student body Islami Chhatra Shibir, Shafi, is now a leader of the AL’s upazila unit. His father Saleh Ahmed was the founding president of RSO in Naikkhyangchhari upazila.
The same year, Shafi distributed 200 cows among the Rohingyas living in different upazilas of Bandarban from the funds he had received from Turkish sources.
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In 2015, police traced the covert operations of Chittagong-based militant group Shahid Hamza Brigade, aimed at avenging the persecution on Rohingyas, arrested most of its members and seized more than two dozens of sophisticated arms.
Formed in late 2013 by some leaders of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the group reportedly got the support of IS to conduct attacks on the Myanmar forces. It received funds from the Middle East.
Only two months after the Ansar camp attack, BGB in Teknaf arrested four people including a former high-profile RSO commander and a Saudi national from a secret meeting in Shamlapur area of Baharchhara on July 30.
Ruling party lawmaker from Teknaf-Ukhiya constituency Abdur Rahman Bodi reportedly attended the high-profile meeting held only three months before the attack on Myanmar border outposts last year.