Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hizb Ut-tahrir : Banned party run from behind bars

Detained top leaders of the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir have been controlling their outfit's activities from prison, intelligence personnel claim. 

The Tahrir men in jail regularly discuss the organisation's possible courses of action and communicate their plans and decisions to their followers outside over mobile phones, say intelligence officials in Rab and police.

Contacted, Inspector General of Prisons Brig Gen Ashraful Islam Khan said this should not be the case as jammers were in place to block mobile calls to and from prison. He, however, admitted that some jammers had been out of order.

The Islamist outfit was outlawed for its subversive activities two years ago. It came back in the spotlight when the army recently pointed to its links to a foiled plot to topple the government.

The organisation on January 8 circulated provocative leaflets, based on fugitive Major Syed Ziaul Haq's internet message, across the country, the army said at a press conference on January 19.

Earlier in December, Hizb ut-Tahrir circulated English and Bangla leaflets calling on army officers to dislodge Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from power and "establish Khilafat".

Lt Col Ziaul Ahsan, chief of Rab intelligence wing, told The Daily Star, “Our own sources as well as some detainees revealed during interrogation that the Tahrir men are carrying out their activities from jail.

“They stick with each other and discuss their next course of action. The leaders communicate with their activists outside over mobile phones.” 

The Rab intelligence chief suggested that the detained Tahrir men should be kept separated in different jails to prevent them from communicating with each other.

There have been allegations that a section of jail guards provides prisoners with mobile phones in exchange for money, though prisoners are not allowed to communicate with the outside world.

Almost all prisoners, except for those on death row, can move inside the jail area and meet during the day, said prison sources. 

Intelligence officials in police and Rab have claimed that some activists of the banned outfit get arrested voluntarily so they can meet their leaders and discuss their next course of action. 

These activists later come out of prison on bail and pass their leaders' instructions to other activists.

Monirul Islam, deputy commissioner of the Detective Branch of Police (South), said the law enforcers had identified some Tahrir leaders and activists who had got arrested voluntarily as part of a plan, and later got out of prison on bail.

Since the outfit had been banned on October 22, 2009, Rab and police arrested 500 of its leaders and activists, including chief coordinator Mahiuddin Ahmed, and advisers Syed Golam Mawla, Mahmudul Bari, Towfiq and Kazi Morshedul Huq.

Intelligence personnel have said the banned outfit has adopted a new strategy to expand its network and influence. 

Tahrir leaders are now trying to include professionals and top government officials in the outfit. They are also targeting children from wealthy families, the officials said.

Monirul said the banned outfit has been trying to get access to middle and upper-class families, and befriend them to build an influential network. 

Rab intelligence chief Ziaul says Hizb ut-Tahrir has taken up a strategy to take advantage of influential and powerful people, including businessmen.