Burma

Arakan Attacks Linked to Group in Saudi Arabia

By The Irrawaddy 15 December 2016

RANGOON — The International Crisis Group (ICG) said that militant attacks in northern Arakan State were linked to a Muslim insurgent group based in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and were aiming to secure the rights of the Rohingya as citizens within Burma.

In an article published in Time magazine on Tuesday, the ICG said that a group called Harakah al-Yaqin, or “Faith Movement” in Arabic, was involved in the attacks against Burma government forces in Arakan State in October and November, based on interviews the ICG conducted with members of the armed group.

“This new armed group is overseen by a committee of Rohingya émigrés based in Mecca. The public face of its operations in northern Arakan, also called Rakhine, is Ata Ullah (known by several aliases), who is the main speaker in several videos released by the group. He was born in Karachi to a Rohingya father and grew up in Mecca. He is part of a group of 20 Rohingya who have international experience in modern guerrilla warfare and are leading operations on the ground in northern Arakan,” the article reads.

The ICG is an international NGO based in Brussels, Belgium. Tim Johnston and Anagha Neelakantan, the directors of ICG’s Asia Program, wrote the report.

The story added that, “It [the “Faith Movement”] has spent at least two years training hundreds of local recruits in guerilla warfare and explosives. Several hundred Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have also traveled to Arakan in recent weeks to join up.”

On Oct. 9, militants attacked three border guard posts in Maungdaw Township in northern Arakan State, killing nine police officers and stealing weapons and ammunition.

On Oct. 14, the government announced that the attacks were “assisted by foreign funding and the support of members of foreign terrorist organizations,” based on the interrogations of four captured militants.

Burmese authorities also accused Havistoohar, the leader of the Aqa Mul Mujahidin group, of carrying out the Maungdaw attacks. Havistoohar had completed a six-month Taliban training course in Pakistan and received funding from Middle Eastern organizations, authorities claimed.

It is not clear if Havistoohar is related to Harakah al-Yaqin, the organization mentioned in the latest ICG article.

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