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Home  Worldwide  Bangladesh  2003  Is Threat From Islamic Terrorists Real?
Is Threat From Islamic Terrorists Real?

The Bangladesh Observer
Friday, December 12, 2003Internet Edition  

Is Threat From Islamic Terrorists Real?

True to its character, the alliance government has promptly rejected the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) report that Bangladesh may emerge as a ‘haven for Islamic terrorists’. Mere rejection of the report is customary, it has to be substantial. Apparently, the CSIS report is based on a number of serious attacks by ‘radicals’ on the cultural groups in Bangladesh. It also refers to reported hints of some Islamic groups’ collusion with Al-Qaida. Right at the moment the Canadian intelligence report has been published, the US and Australian governments have warned their citizens of possible danger during their movement and stay in Bangladesh. Whether this is a coincidence or something else is not known. But the public announcement through which the US government keeps its visiting citizens alert fears potential attacks by international terrorists against US interests in Bangladesh.

It is too early to say if there is any truth or not in the CSIS report. But the powerful bomb blasts at the Udichi function in Jessore, at Bangla New Year’s function at Ramna Botomool and at the Communist Party meeting at Paltan are an unmistakable indication of the choice of targets. It is a fact that none of these bombing incidents has been conclusively investigated. People do not know who were the masterminds behind all such attacks. Then there were more recent attacks on cinema halls in Mymensingh. Again, investigation has not led either to unearthing the cause of the attack or nabbing the perpetrators. Whether all this is a case of intelligence failure or anything else no one knows.

Then there are time-to-time huge and sophisticated arms, ammunition and explosive hauls. A few organised militant Islamic groups’ clashes with the police in different places over the attempt to capture Ahmadiya sect’s mosques or to smuggle in arms and explosives in some places are allowed to pass rather quietly. If those alarming incidents were seriously followed through, no one possibly could accuse the government of non-action against terrorists. Sure enough, we have passed the phase when crying hoarse that some quarters are busy tarnishing our non-secular image abroad would be of any use. If the process continues, we will soon be facing a credibility crisis. We must be alive to the sensitive issue of terrorism because its global connotation is far stronger than we can appreciate.

The government however has so far firmly dealt with the fanatics bent on capturing the Ahmadiya mosques at Nakhalpara and at Sarishabari, Jamalpur. However the threat remains as long as the ultimatum for declaring the Ahmadiyas as non-Muslims is there. The government must not sit on such sensitive issues. It must open a viable channel of negotiations with the aggressive party and convince them of the merit of peaceful co-existence of different communities. Similarly, violent incidents like the bomb blasts have to be thoroughly probed into both for clarity and punishment of the criminals. If the masterminds behind such incidents can be brought to book, we will know whether the threat is a mere perceived one or more than that. Maybe, we will be able to dismiss, rather factually, that there is no possibility of the rise of ‘Islamic terrorists’ here. We do not like to be painted as a nation dominated by fundamentalists. Let the government come clean on this issue and stand by its claim.

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