Islamic Terrorism Is Rampant in Bangladesh

When we think of Islamic Fundamentalist groups, we tend to think about the Middle East because of the huge media coverage about them in these countries. However, while we shudder at the gruesome situation in these regions, fundamentalist Islamist groups are systematically spreading fear and terror in developing countries in South and Southeast Asia.

We now see the rising pattern in gruesome murders and abductions of secular and atheist writers, bloggers, and publishers, along with ordinary citizens and religious minorities such as Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and even believers in Shia custom, in Bangladesh.

“In 2017, at least 107 Hindu citizens were killed, and 31 others disappeared in Bangladesh, according to Dhaka Tribune. Moreover, 782 Hindus have been either forced to leave the Muslim majority nation or threatened to flee, “said the report. 23 were forced to convert.

These citizens are being harassed by both Islamic-run Bangladeshi state and jihadist-extremist groups. In 2016, the Sunni-Islamic government also put at least 11,000 people under arbitrary arrest during a heavy-handedness crackdown, in just a couple of weeks.

“A group calling itself “Defenders of Islam” admitted the responsibility for three murders, including the murder of a blogger who was beheaded,” said Reporters Without Borders in 2014. Ansarullah Bangla Team is responsible for multiple onslaughts against the country’s non-Muslims, and in addition released a “hit list” of 84 Bangladeshis, mostly secularists. Although these threats and hit lists are no secret, the Islamic government of Bangladesh has responded by arresting the victims instead. According to reports, the government captured and jailed several secularist bloggers on charges of defaming Islam and by shutting down several websites in the country.

The continuous systematic genocide of Hindus in Bangladesh is not new.

The Hindu minority which survived the 1971 massacre, is once again being subjected to governmental terrorism and ethnic cleansing. The vanishing of Hindus that comprised 31 percent of the Bangladesh population in 1947, has become so common that this minority group’s population had dwindled to a meager 9 percent by 2016.

The attack on the Hindu community despite condemnation by various international social and civil rights bodies and media has not stopped but instead worsened.

Reports state that radical Islamist groups like Ansarullah Bangla Team recruit young Muslim citizens, and then the leaders take the new members to the Sundarbans’ Karamjal area for a week-long brain-washing program to indoctrinate juveniles with the ideology of ‘Ansar al-Islam.’ These young members will later be dispatched to Rangamati’s Alikadam area for another month-long training program which gives them skills on how to use weapons. At the end of their training, the well-brainwashed Jihadists are ready to carry out attacks across the country.  They openly use various social media apps, to contact each other according to BD News 24.

Similarly, the leaders of the Islamist fundamentalist group Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh have called for arming “all Rohingya refugees,” if necessary. “Thousands of Rohingya have quietly settled in the United States, but there are many more who are still living in dire conditions inside refugee camps in Bangladesh. With no jobs and no opportunities to make a living, the refugees are vulnerable to groups like the Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh’s Fatwa, who are willing to go to any extent to spread their radical views and recruit new converts.

According to humanitarian organizations like Reo-Research and Empowerment Organization, who are working closely with Hindu Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, thousands of victims were forced to convert into Islam and if they refused, they would kill the men and forcefully rape the Hindu women. “They shot my husband and in-laws including everyone in front of my eyes. The mask covered people killed and told us to marry them and convert to Islam, I agreed to it to save my life. They took me into the jungle for 2 days and raped me,” Anika Dhar a Hindu Rohingya refugee, told REO representatives in 2017.

With a literacy rate of 72.9 percent as of 2018, and most of the Muslims in Bangladesh send their children to the religious education courses in Bengali and Arabic. These courses commonly try to teach killing for the sake of Allah.

90 percent of the Bangladesh population are adherents of Islam and Islam is the state religion in this country. Bangladesh is the 8th most populated country in the world with 170 million citizens. 90.4 percent of them which is almost 154 million, are Muslim. Islam was introduced to Bengal in at least 7th-8th century by the Arab missionaries, and Persian merchants, who previously were forced to convert in Islam after the aggressive-Muslims incursion to the territory of Persia.

Who’s to blame?

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States Department of the Treasury initiated the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) to identify, track, and pursue terrorists and their networks. The U.S. Treasury Department has been positioned to track terrorist money and uncover terrorist cells and networks in the U.S. and around the world. On the other hand, the United States has diplomatic relations with Bangladesh and has an embassy in Dhaka with 400 staff. The critical question is, how are such terrorist groups being funded and how do they proliferate under the noses of the U.S and other international agencies,

In the end, it is worth mentioning that funding such groups is an open secret, it has done by states and various national and international bodies for their own benefits or to maintain a status quo or ensure that their weapons are always in demand.

“The Islamic fundamentalist groups are closely interlinked and have associate bodies in various Islamic and non-Islamic nations. For example, nations like Iran are known to fund and train Taliban militants. Terror organizations like ISIS are openly radicalizing youths in Europe, America, Far East, and Australia. Where are they getting the funds from, if we are all fighting to end terrorism, who are the double-faced players supporting these groups from under the table? Where do they get funds for such massive online radicalization campaigns, to sustain the livelihoods of their members and recruits and train their recruits”? said Prabalta Rijal, an international journalist. According to her, terrorism cannot exist without the support of more powerful entities than themselves, entities willing to protect, shelter and fund them.

This article was originally written by Kaveh Taheri and published on ATP in 2019.

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