Militancy and corruption prevention in manifesto
People in the upcoming eleventh parliament elections want to resolve the issue of militancy in the election manifesto. They want to eat, want to live, want to learn, want to peace, and want Bangladesh to be free from militancy. Because, militancy and corruption, murder and rape are major problem to them. If we look a little bit we can see that--when compared to his peers in the terrorism community--Akayed Ullah was most certainly a loser. The wannabe jihadist attempted to blow himself up at the New York City port authority bus terminal by strapping a pipe bomb to his body.
But the bomb--made with firecracker powder and lit with a Christmas candle--was so low intensity that, far from creating widespread terror, he didn't even end up killing himself. In the weeks that have followed since, the 27-year-old Bangladeshi migrant has received more ridicule than fear or praise. The attempt may have been quixotic, and there's little possibility of Ullah getting another shot at jihadist fame. But he is representative of a new generation of young militants from Bangladesh--one that calls not for jokes, but for serious scrutiny.
Ullah's attempt gained widespread media attention in the West because of its location: New York City. But a look at the trend of Islamist terrorism in Bangladesh will show that he isn't the only one who's tried the 'fedayeen' format in recent times. He's in fact part of a growing tribe of martyrdom seekers that has been emerging since 2016. Bangladesh isn't new to violent Islamist militancy. Apostates, minorities, secularists, and freethinkers have been regularly killed in large numbers and with impunity.
But until 2016, all of the violence had been restricted to their home ground; nothing was attempted overseas. Even large Islamist terror groups of the previous decades, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh for example, had been home-grown outfits. They shared training links with Pakistan-based Kashmir-centric outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, and they also received funding from overseas. But both their membership and their political goals remained focused on Bangladesh. The only notable exception was when a small splinter group, the Asif Reza Commando Force, attacked the American consulate in Kolkata in 2002. That was made possible solely due to the porous borders between India and Bangladesh and this specific group's deviance in the otherwise uninvolved organized crime network of the city.
In 2013, Bangladesh saw a massive upraise of Islamic movement that was violent and connected to political affairs. It was led mostly by Hefazat-e Islam, Jamaat-e Islami and its student wing the Islami Chhatra Shibir, that year saw over 800 people killed or grievously injured. Even then, none of this violence spilled out of the national borders. For the new generation, the purging of minorities and infidels, or even anti-India positions, took a backseat. The injustices of Iraq and the dream of building a Caliphate in Syria were what inflamed their passions.
The Islamic State replaced al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) as the brand to which they'd hitch their jihadi carts. This organizational change coincided with an attitude shift toward fighting. Where religious fundamentalists of previous decades had been content with killing in the name of religion, the millennial militant wants to die for it now days. According to cooks, was taken hostage, Nirbas Islam and his team, who took over the Holey Artisan Bakery in July 2016, had come ready to die and had no plans of surrendering. When breaking their Ramadan fast, the attackers joked with their hostages about their next meal being in heaven.
Notably, Nibras and his team posed with the black flag of the Islamic State before attacking the eatery. Ever since Holey, an obvious death wish has been writ large on major terror-linked events in the country. December 2016 saw Jebunnahar Islam Shila--Bangladesh's first female suicide bomber--blowing herself up while holding her 7-year-old daughter in one hand and chanting: "We will go to heaven! We will go to heaven!" March 2017 saw two more suicide attacks--one at the Rapid Action Battalion's camp and another at the Dhaka International Airport--within the span of a week. Both were claimed by the Islamic State.
Thus Bangladesh cannot continue and therefore the election manifesto promises to eliminate militancy. Of course, the commitment is also the claim of time; the claim is the new generation. The media is saying that- Bangladeshi security analyst Major General (Retd) Abdur Rashid has claimed that the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI has created the Rohingya issue because of their jealousy towards the developing countries including Bangladesh and India. Claiming that militant organisation ARSA is conducting militant activities in the Arakan with the help of ISI, the former military official told India Today that ISI created the Rohingya issue by using the Arakan militants to hinder the development activities of the opponent countries.
Rashid said, "Huge Rohingya influx is (sic) entering Bangladesh like sea wave after being killed and persecuted in their homeland Myanmar. And now it is very difficult for the country to ensure housing and support for such a huge number of refugees. Besides, there are different types of risks including economic, social security and also the possibility of increase in criminal activities."The former military official also said that the issue of security should be kept in consideration. He further said that a Pakistani quarter is active to make Bangladesh unstable since its independence in 1971 and they will try to keep the Rohingya issue alive.
When the people are being killed in the words, the militants are being killed, the administration is unable to prevent the continuous ruthless acts like Holi Artisan. Rather the headline is in the newspapers- The trial in the sensational Holey Artisan cafe attack case is set to begin on December 3 as a tribunal here on Monday framed charges against eight 'militants' in the case.Dhaka Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal Judge Mohammad Mujibur Rahman passed the order and fixed December 3 for recording the statements of the witnesses. Among the eight accused, six are now in jail while two others are absconding. The six accused are Jahangir Alam alias Rajib Gandhi, Mahmudul Hasan Mijan, Sohel Mahfuz, Rashidul Islam alias Ryash, Boro Mijan and Hadisur Rahman Sagor.
The two absconding accused are Mamunur Rashid Ripon and Shariful Islam Khaled.
On July 23, police pressed charges against eight people in the Holey Artisan cafe attack case. Hasnat Karim, a North South University teacher who was one of the hostages and later detained, has been relieved from the charges since there was no evidence of his complicity with the attack, according to the police. The terrorist attack that shattered the country and drew global attention, claimed lives of 22 people-nine Italians, seven Japanese, one Indian, one Bangladeshi-born American and two Bangladeshis-on 1 July 2016.
Twenty-one people were identified to be behind the attack. Among them, 13 were killed in gunfights at different times. This is not the end, there are many unidentified information coming up. It is said- Eight members of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Radical Youth Group were arrested by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) from Mohammadpur and Bashundhara on 25th and 26th November. The arrested men are Md Arafat Ajam, 30 from Bandarban; Rashed Alam alias Badhon, 28, Tangail; Mir Afzal Ali, 37, Satkhira; Mahadi Hasan, 23, Laxmipur; Radiuzzaman Hawladar Anik, 27, Madaripur; Jalal Uddin Shovon, 28, Munshiganj; and Zarir Taisir, 26, Noakhali. They are members of JMB's 's Radical Youth Group, said , Mufti Mahmud Khan, Director of Legal and Media Wing of the elite force.
Badhon and Anik are school teachers, while Taisir is a BBA student of Manarat University, Asifur is a Web Designer, and Arafat is a Software Engineer. They were close associates of Basharuzzaman Chocolate, one of the planners of the 2016 Gulshan attack. We have reports that there have been attempts to revive JMB as the 'Radical Youth Group'. The detainees told RAB that Basharuzzaman formed the group in 2014 at Mohammadpur. It became particularly active between 2015 and 2016 and tried to recruit educated people and professionals.
The group became inactive when Basharuzzaman went into hiding-he was later killed in a police raid in Chapainawabganj last year. The notorious, outlawed, militant group JMB men have been trying to stage a comeback with a different name. But that was not supposed to happen.
It should be a commitment of the politicians, indiscriminately parties, that they will come forward to stop militancy for the welfare of the country and people. I believe that people will welcome such commitment if any party includes it in their election manifesto. In the election manifesto, things like, food security, clothing, housing, medical and right to education should be included. And of course, the commitment to stop militancy and prevent corruption should be prioritised in the context of current situation.
Momin Mahadi is Chairman, Natun Dhara Bangladesh (NDB) Translated by Momo Choudury