Bangladeshi militant leader due to be hanged

Bangladeshi militant leader due to be hanged
Amid the growing threat of the Islamic State group, Bangladesh is putting to death a leader of another fundamentalist group responsible for a wave of militant attacks.
2 min read
16 October, 2016
The militant leader is due to be hanged in Khulna, Bangladesh's third city [AFP]

A senior Bangladeshi Islamist whose group has been linked to the murder of foreign hostages is expected to be hanged on Sunday.

Asadul Islam - also known as Arif - is a leader of the Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and is due to be put to death in Khulna after the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence in August for blasts that killed two lower court judges in 2005.

Security is tight in the Bagladeshi city ahead of his expected execution, AFP reported, with hundreds of police and anti-terror units stationed in Khulna.

Authorities blame the militant for an attack on an upmarket Dhaka restaurant in July which left 22 people, mostly foreign hostages, dead.

The killings, and other violent act attributed to the Islamic State group, have seen security forces launched a wave of arrestes and sieges and suspected militants.

The clampdown has seen 40 people killed including the alleged leader of IS in Bangladesh Tamim Chowdhury, a Canadian citizen of Bangladesh descent.

After the attacks, courts have also fast-tracked prosecution of the Islamists with scores facing the death penalty.        

"The tentative time of his hanging is 10.30 pm (1630 GMT). We've stepped up security all over the city," Khulna Police Commissioner Nibhas Chandra Majhi told AFP.

In August, just weeks after the cafe attack, Bangladesh's highest court led by the chief justice dismissed Arif's final appeal, clearing the way for his execution.

Arif later refused to seek presidential clemency, paving the way for his hanging later on Sunday, said a prison official of the jail where the Islamist was set to be executed.

Six other top officials of the JMB, including its founding leader Shaikh Abdur Rahman, had already been executed in March 2007 for the same case.

Founded in the late 1990s by Islamists who fought in the Afghan wars along with the Mujahideens and the Taliban, the JMB has sought to impose sharia law in Bangladesh.

Although Muslim majority Bangladesh is a secular nation with mostly moderate followers of Islam.

On August 17, 2005, the group conducted more than 400 small blasts in 63 of the country's 64 districts. Many of these bombs targeted secular courts.    

Hundreds of JMB extremists including Rahman, his deputy Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, were later hunted down by security forces in a massive crackdown on the militants.