Stateless Rohingya Muslims Fodder For Jihadists – Analysis

By Jai Kumar Verma*

There are reports that international Islamic terrorist outfits, particularly the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, are recruiting young Rohingya Muslims for carrying out terrorist activities in the name of jihad. There are also reports that Pakistan’s sinister Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is also enrolling immature Rohingya Muslims for terrorist activities in India after imparting them training in terrorist camps in Pakistan.

In October, foreign-trained Rohingya Muslims killed nine Myanmar Border Guard personnel on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. Again on November 3, six Rohingya Muslims attacked 11 Myanmar police personnel killing one police officer and injuring several others. Besides these attacks, there were reports that Rohingyas were radicalised and they clashed with Buddhists in Rakhine state.

After these attacks, the present government launched a massive clearance operation in Rakhine state which is the home of Rohingya Muslims. The Myanmar security personnel resorted to extra judicial killings, rapes and merciless beatings of Rohingya Muslims. A large number of suspected extremists and their supporters were imprisoned. According to United Nations observers, about 65,000 Rohingya Muslims took refuge in Bangladesh.

There are widespread allegations that after the communal violence of 2012 between Muslim and Buddhist communities in Rakhine state, the atrocities on Rohingya Muslims have considerably increased and more than 810,000 Rohingyas were displaced and are living without any citizenship in Myanmar. About 200,000 Rohingyas are residing in unofficial camps where the living conditions are deplorable. The majority Buddhist community, with the connivance of security forces, damaged mosques and ruined business enterprises of Muslims.

The Myanmar security forces deal with Rohingya Muslims mercilessly and when they migrate to Bangladesh, which is an Islamic country, their troubles do not end as Bangladesh also treats them equally cruelly.

The present National League of Democracy (NLD) government has barred the entry of media as well as of human right activists in the troubled areas. Hence, the international community partially remained in the dark but mainly took little interest in the pitiable plight of Rohingyas. Recently Pope Francis condemned the atrocities on Rohingyas which is good as it will attract international attention.

In view of the pitiable condition of Rohingya Muslims, various international terrorist organisations, primarily Islamic terrorist outfits, are making efforts to convert them as extremists and recruiting them for carrying out terrorist activities in various countries.

According to latest intelligence output, ISI-sponsored terrorist outfits like Lashkar-e-Toiba, (LeT) and Jaish-e- Mohammed (JeM) are recruiting Rohingyas through support agents. Once young Rohingyas are recruited they are sent to Pakistan via Nepal or Middle Eastern countries. In Pakistan, first they are given lessons on extremist Islam and once they became fanatic Muslims they are given training in arms and ammunition, preparation of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and carrying out terrorist activities. ISI will like to use them as suicide bombers as these Rohingyas have suffered lot of atrocities from non-Muslims and have thus inculcated ingrained hatred towards other religions hence it may not be difficult to convert them as suicide bombers.

The present Indian government has taken a stringent view about the infiltration of Pakistani terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir and, according to reports, the Indian Army as well as the Para-Military Forces are exterminating Pakistani infiltrators under the search operations. Hence, ISI would like to utilise Rohingyas for carrying out terrorist activities in J&K. There are reports that Rohingyas have taken refuge in J&K hence it would be easy for ISI agents to recruit them for terrorist activities.

The analysts claim that ISI would use Rohingyas not only in India but also utilise them to carry out terrorist activities in Myanmar and Bangladesh and a few would also be sent to Afghanistan for carrying out bomb blasts. Rohingyas have deep-rooted hatred towards Myanmar and Bangladesh as residents of both these countries were vindictive towards them.

Myanmar’s newly-appointed National Security Advisor (NSA) U Thanog Tun visited India in the first week of February and met Indian NSAAjit Doval and others. Ajit Doval, who visited Myanmar earlier and possesses deep knowledge about the security scenario of the region, emphatically told the visiting NSA that Rohingya Muslims are being radicalised and extremist forces are converting them into Jihadists which is very dangerous for Myanmar as well as for India.

Indian security personnel impressed upon the visiting delegation that Rohingyas should be treated in such a way that they do not become fanatic Jihadists as it may be a great danger to the region.

Majority of about 1.2 million Rohingya Muslims are devoid of basic amenities, they have no employment and are tormented in Myanmar as well as in the country where they take refuge. Hence the young Rohingyas can easily be converted into Jihadists. In view of large population of displaced Rohingya, and constant efforts of various Islamic terrorist outfits, the possibility of Rohingyas becoming Jihadists cannot be ruled out and a small proportion of 1.2 million will be enough to create a major disaster in the region.

Deputy Defence Chief of Myanmar Rear Admiral Myint Nwe stated on January 23 that the world must give some “time and space” to the present government so that it can sort out the problem of Rohingya Muslims. He further mentioned that the government is aware of the condition of Rakhine state.

It is heartening to note that democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has taken a few measures to mitigate the miseries of Rohingya Muslims. Her government promised the economic development of Rakhine State and also constituted the Central Committee for Implementation of Peace and Development in the area. The government also created an Advisory Commission on Rakhine State headed by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to look after the grievances of Rohingya Muslims.

Besides Myanmar authorities, international organisations should also provide basic amenities to these displaced Rohingya Muslims so that the extremist Islamic organisations do not succeed in their nefarious motives.

*Jai Kumar Verma is a Delhi-based strategic analyst. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to [email protected]

South Asia Monitor

South Asia Monitor

South Asia Monitor is an independent web journal and online resource dealing with strategic, political, security, cultural and economic issues about, pertaining to and of consequence to South Asia and the whole Indo-Pacific region. Developed for South Asia watchers across the globe or those looking for in-depth knowledge, reliable resource and documentation on this region, the site features exclusive commentaries, insightful analyses, interviews and reviews contributed by strategic experts, diplomats, journalists, analysts, researchers and students from not only this region but all over the world. It also aggregates news and views content related to the region.

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