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ISIS eyes on the the land of Tagore and Nazrul (Bangladesh)

Bangladesh may be the next providing ground for global Jihadist groups, suggests LA Times

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Islamic Terrorism worldwide. Wikimedia Commons
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By Saeed Naqvi

It was like a macabre end to a Chabrol movie. I had returned with images of such aesthetic delight from the Pahela Baishakh festivities in Dhaka that the news of Professor Rezaul Karim Siddique having been hacked to death by Islamists left me in something of a daze.

Promotion of Bangla syncretism, which I had found so compelling, was precisely his “guilt”: He was in the vanguard of progressive literary and cultural activities, on the Rajshahi university campus; keen that students take an interest in the poetry and music of Tagore and Qazi Nazrul Islam, modern dance dramas, just the sort of stuff that lends to the Bangla cultural scene so much vibrancy.

The Islamic State (IS), which claimed responsibility for the killing, said Siddique was inviting Muslims to the path of “atheism”. A few days later, the rampant culture of impunity claimed its next victim – Xulhaz Mannan, editor of the gay, transgender magazine, and his fellow activist Mahbul Rabbi Tonoy.

Bangladesh was carved out of India as East Bangladesh in 1947 as part of Pakistan. Wkimedia Commons
Bangladesh was carved out of India as East Bangladesh in 1947 as part of Pakistan. Wkimedia Commons

So far extremism had struck in the Bangla countryside. The latest attacks are in the heart of Dhaka, deepening concerns about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed’s grip on the administration.

A criticism of the regime on these lines invites from Sheikh Hasina a knee-jerk response: darts are being fired by arch enemy Khaleda Zia, the BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami – the source of all Islamic militancy in Bangladesh. She is not exactly in denial of the IS presence but her focus is on the Khaleda-Jamaat mischief.

In this kind of polarization, what value does one place on an interview that a perfectly sensible, liberal editor in Dhaka places in my hand? Dabiq, the glossy IS magazine has in a Q and A, invited Shaikh Abu Ibrahim al Hanif, the Emir of the Khalifah’s soldiers in Bengal, to spell out his plans. The 13-page interview, if validated as being authentic, has a dreadful message for Bangladesh: IS headquarters may shift to the country where Shias, Qadianis, Hindus and other deviants espousing cultural syncretism will be terrorized to their knees.

“Jihad base in Bengal will facilitate guerilla attacks in India from both sides.” There is terrible news for Myanmar too: “Cells” will be helped until the nation is overwhelmed.

You may like to read this too: Naqvi says dignity of minorities not ‘political propaganda. 

Of course, there is institutional support for the ghastly killings of writers, teachers, artists with a liberal streak who have been hacked to death with machetes and meat cleavers. Los Angeles Times headline rings alarm: “Bangladesh may be the next providing ground for global Jihadist groups.”

Macabre attacks on soft targets in Bangladesh has multiple purposes: they discredit the Hasina government, intimidate liberals, the anti-Jamaat e Islami masses. Under stress, the Hasina establishment responds to such criticism by unfurling its authoritarian fangs. This explains the crackdown on editors and journalists: 84 cases against Mahfuz Anam, editor of the Daily Star, and arrest of 81-year-old Shafiq Rehman.

The regime’s authoritarian streak, disheartens the secular, liberal elite. True Hasina takes on the obscurantist forces but must a price be paid in civil liberties to contrive an unsteady, status quo?

Because Indo-Bangladesh relations have seldom been as good as they are today, there is a suggestion, in murmurs among the elite that New Delhi supports the illiberal regime. This kind of talk carries. At the popular level questions surface: why must Dhaka be so obsequious with an “RSS led government”?

An influential China lobby takes heart and looks for balance in the Dhaka, Beijing, New Delhi, Washington quadrangle. Any illiberal act by the regime in Bangladesh correspondingly causes tongues to wag about New Delhi’s heavy-handed handling of affairs like the JNU and Hyderabad universities. Between New Delhi-Dhaka official relations and the people-to-people perceptions, contradictions sharpen.

What can New Delhi do? It certainly is in no position to stand on high moral ground and proffer advice to a regime increasingly intolerant of dissent.

The BNP under Begum Khaleda Zia is a depleted force banking on the Jamaat-e-Islami’s excesses. But her antecedents do link her to powerful elements in the army, a source of great discomfort to the Prime Minister. She is, therefore, willing to give the armed forces all the toys they want including a nuclear submarine to be used against few know who.

The army is in clover, what with both the ladies outbidding each other to keep it in good humour. The bonanza from UN Peace Keeping duties increases by the day. Recently Saudi Arabia very nearly extracted Dhaka’s participation in their year long war in Yemen. A decision to send troops was reversed by Sheikh Hasina: she agreed to troops only under the UN.

By seeking Dhaka’s help, Riyadh was out to spite Islamabad which said “no” earlier. That Sheikh Hasina even toyed with the idea was to undermine Khaleda Zia’s support in Islamabad. Her expectation also was that Riyadh would help tone down Jamaat-e-Islami opposition to her. Has the Saudi initiative failed or does it still have life in it?

Meanwhile, the diplomatic corps cannot take its eyes off the string of gruesome murders – four this month alone. American Human Rights group must have played a hand in 29 Bangladeshi bloggers being placed on the State Department list. In other words, if free thinking bloggers are threatened with death by IS, Al Qaeda and sundry extremists, they will be entitled to apply for US residence.

This has the potential to swell the ranks of would-be victims. It is a perfect arrangement: if militants wielding machetes, meat cleavers, and bombs can qualify for the houris of paradise, their potential victims can now aspire for a fallback position in the real land of milk and honey.

(A senior commentator on political and diplomatic affairs, Saeed Naqvi can be reached on saeednaqvi@hotmail.com. The views expressed are personal.) –IANS

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  • Pritam Go Green

    Soon they will go for attacking in India also.

  • Karishma Vanjani

    Bangladesh has turned from being the next providing ground to being a playground for the Islamic terrorist group.

Next Story

First satellite launched by Bangladesh

It was successfully deployed at Bangladesh's specified orbit slot "within 36 minutes" of the launch and two ground stations in Bangladesh received test signals from it, said State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak at the Kennedy Space Centre in the US.

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In September 2016, Bangladesh signed a 14 billion taka ($180 million) loan agreement with Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) to finance the country's first-ever satellite.
Satellite, pixabay

Bangladesh launched its first satellite, “Bangabandhu-1”, on Saturday, becoming the 57th nation in the world and fourth in South Asia after India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka to own a satellite.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted the communication satellite, named after the Bangladesh founder, early in the morning from Cape Canaveral in Florida, bdnews24 reported.

It was successfully deployed at Bangladesh’s specified orbit slot “within 36 minutes” of the launch and two ground stations in Bangladesh received test signals from it, said State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak at the Kennedy Space Centre in the US.

The launch was telecast live in Bangladesh, with experts saying it will serve as a milestone in the telecommunication sector.

“The satellite will be a great addition to our Information Technology heralding our entry into the Satellite Club of the world,” said Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a message.

"The satellite will be a great addition to our Information Technology heralding our entry into the Satellite Club of the world," said Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a message.
Bangladesh, pixabay

“The Bangabandhu Satellite-1 will certainly bring revolutionary changes in our broadcast and telecommunications sector. With this launching, we’ve hoisted the Bangladesh flag in the space… entered a new era.”

She thanked the satellite building and launching company, the US and the French governments for their support. Hasina also praised Russia for renting its orbital slot to Bangladesh.

Experts said that the country’s first geostationary communication satellite will give extra space to the digitization process. It will help expand Internet and telecommunication services in remote and rugged areas which still remained beyond the coverage.

Once the satellite becomes active at its orbital slot, it will be reportedly controlled from three stations in the US, Italy and South Korea for about a month. Finally, the satellite will be controlled and maintained from ground stations in Bangladesh.

In September 2016, Bangladesh signed a 14 billion taka ($180 million) loan agreement with Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) to finance the country’s first-ever satellite.

Also Read: New Study Shows That Binaries From Globular Clusters Can be Detected by LISA 

In November 2015, Bangladesh signed a 19.51 billion taka ($248 million) deal with French firm Thales Alenia Space for the satellite project.

The Bangladeshi government also purchased a 119.1 east longitude orbital slot from Russia-based Intersputnik for 15 years for $28 million. (IANS)