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ISIS looks at Bangladesh as a platform to capture India and Myanmar

ISIS has expressed several times that Hindu India is at its radar for attack and conversion

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ISIS looks at Bangladesh as a launching pad to attack India.
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April 15, 2016: The Islamic State (IS or ISIS) militant group says it wants to use Bangladesh as a launching pad to gain a foothold in neighboring Hindu-majority India and Buddhist-dominated Myanmar.

The plan was revealed by the alleged chief of ISIS in Bangladesh, named as Sheikh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, in an interview with the IS mouthpiece magazine, Dabiq.

Bangladesh

It was immediately dismissed by Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, who insisted that IS has no presence in his country and that the South Asian nation would never allow IS to use it as a base to expand its influence in the region.

The IS had claimed responsibility for a series of killings and attacks of bloggers, writers, foreigners and non-Sunni Muslim minorities.

Khan said however that some local militants had been using the “IS brand to add value to their names.”

‘Stepping-Stone’

In his interview, al-Hanif said that Bangladesh was “an important region” for the IS and its “global jihad” due to its “strategic geographic position.”

“[Bangladesh] is located on the eastern side of India, whereas the [Pakistan-Afghanistan region] is located on its western side,” he noted.

He said an ISIS base in Bangladesh “will facilitate performing guerrilla attacks inside India simultaneously from both sides.”

“Also, jihad in [Bangladesh] is a stepping-stone for jihad in Burma [Myanmar].”

Commenting on the report, Minister Khan said Bangladesh “will in no way allow the people with alien ideology [to] develop bases here to attack other countries; that will not happen.”

“I want to say unambiguously that IS has no presence in Bangladesh,” he told reporters. “May be a handful of [local] people may subscribe to the IS views.”

Bangladesh media gave wide coverage of al-Hanif’s interview.

This is second time the IS magazine featured the group’s strategy in Bangladesh. Late last year, it published a five-page report detailing its expansion plan in the Muslim-majority nation.

“This time an elaborate plan about Bangladesh has been written; this is significant,” Syed Mahfuzul Haque Marzan, a teacher of criminology at Dhaka University, told BenarNews.

The IS threat, he warned, should not be taken “lightly in any way,” calling for “more in-depth investigation.”

A former senior Bangladesh military officer, Air Commander Ishfaq Elahi Chowdhury, said IS would not be able to use the country as a staging post against India and Myanmar, citing close counterterrorism cooperation among the countries.

‘Fertile Ground’

Both IS and the terror group Al-Qaeda are competing for expansion in Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million Muslims, according to Singapore-based counterterrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna.

“IS and Al-Qaeda leaders consider Bangladesh as a fertile ground for recruitment,” said Gunaratna, a BenarNews columnist who heads the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

“Although Bangladesh has been uncompromising in its approach to fight both IS and al Qaeda, these two groups have developed a presence on Bangladesh soil. They have recently killed both Bangladeshis and foreigners.”

Indian officials were not immediately available for comment on the IS plan.

But a former Indian army officer and defense analyst, Major General Satbir Singh, told BenarNews that the government should devise “a proper defense policy with regards to terror organizations like the ISIS.”

“We need to have a secured security environment for achieving peaceful development and national integration. That environment can be achieved only if we have good, actionable intelligence and coordinated response of all security agencies together,” he said.

Akash Vashishtha in New Delhi contributed to this report. (BenarNews)

 

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    Bangladesh and India would jointly fight against terrorism.

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WhatsApp Announces 20 Teams To Curb Fake News Globally

In India, WhatsApp has partnered with the Digital Empowerment Foundation to train community leaders in several states on how to address misinformation

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WhatsApp selects 20 teams to curb fake news globally, including India. Pixabay

Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Tuesday announced that it has selected 20 research teams worldwide – including experts from India and those of Indian origin — who will work towards how misinformation spreads and what additional steps the mobile messaging platform could take to curb fake news.

Shakuntala Banaji from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Anushi Agrawal and Nihal Passanha from Bengaluru-based media and arts collective “Maraa” and Ramnath Bhat from LSE have been selected for the paper titled “WhatsApp Vigilantes? WhatsApp messages and mob violence in India”.

The research examines the ways in which WhatsApp users understand and find solutions to the spate of “WhatsApp lynchings” that has killed over 30 people so far.

The Indian government has also directed WhatsApp to take necessary remedial measures to prevent proliferation of fake and, at times, motivated/sensational messages on its platform.

Among others selected were Vineet Kumar from Ranchi-headquartered Cyber Peace Foundation (principal investigator), Amrita Choudhary, President of the Delhi-based non-profit Cyber Café Association of India (CCAOI) and Anand Raje from Cyber Peace Foundation.

They will work as a team on the paper titled “Digital literacy and impact of misinformation on emerging digital societies”.

P.N. Vasanti from Centre for Media Studies in New Delhi woll work withS. Shyam Sundar, The Pennsylvania State University (Principal Investigator) to examine the role of content modality in vulnerability to misinformation, under the topic titled “Seeing is Believing: Is Video Modality More Powerful in Spreading Fake News?”

WhatsApp had issued a call for papers in July this year and received proposals from over 600 research teams around the world.

“Each of the 20 research teams will receive up to $50,000 for their project (for a total of $1 million),” WhatsApp said in a statement.

Lipika Kamra from O.P. Jindal Global University and Philippa Williams from the Queen Mary University of London (Principal Investigator) will examine the role of WhatsApp in everyday political conversations in India, in the context of India’s social media ecosystem.

According to Mrinalini Rao, lead researcher at WhatsApp, the platform cares deeply about the safety of its over 1.5 billion monthly active users globally and over 200 million users in India.

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

“We appreciate the opportunity to learn from these international experts about how we can continue to help address the impact of misinformation,” Rao said.

“These studies will help us build upon recent changes we have made within WhatsApp and support broad education campaigns to help keep people safe,” she added.

The recipients are from countries including Brazil, India, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore, Spain, the UK and US.

WhatsApp said it is hosting them in California this week so they can hear from product leaders about how it builds its product.

“Given the nature of private messaging – where 90 per cent of the messages sent are between two people and group sizes are strictly limited – our focus remains on educating and empowering users and proactively tackling abuse,” said the company.

WhatsApp recently implemented a “forward label” to inform users when they received a message that was not originally written by their friend or loved one. To tackle abuse, WhatApp has also set a limit on how many forwards can be sent.

In India, WhatsApp has partnered with the Digital Empowerment Foundation to train community leaders in several states on how to address misinformation.

Also Read- Facebook Blocks Accounts Engaged in Malicious Activities

“We are also running ads in several languages — in print, online, and on over 100 radio stations — amounting to the largest public education campaign on misinformation anywhere in the world,” the company noted.

Sayan Banerjee from University of Essex, Srinjoy Bose from University of New South Wales and Robert A. Johns from University of Essex will study “Misinformation in Diverse Societies, Political Behaviour & Good Governance”.

Santosh Vijaykumar from Northumbria University, Arun Nair from Health Systems Research India Initiative and Venkat Chilukuri, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology are part of the team that will study “Misinformation Vulnerabilities among Elderly during Disease Outbreaks”. (IANS)