By Swadesh Roy*
The Gulshan attack jolted Bangladesh; the last Friday night of Ramadan. It had not only shaken the people, but also damaged the image of the country. Not only was the killing of 17 foreigners and three Bangladeshis by the so-called Islamic terrorists horrific in itself, it was also a man-made disaster for the society of Bangladesh. The people of Bangladesh are worried for their security already and this new phenomenon has puzzled the whole society with the involvement of some elite and upper middle class boys in the terror attack, having come to shock many. The society of Bangladesh has to believe first that a group of elite and middle class boys are joining the Islamic militancy, and this has created a huge social and security problem.
In Bangladesh, it was generally believed that only madrassas-educated (Islamic education institution) boys, who come from very poor economic background, joined these radical Islamic movements for they are ostensibly paid by Islamic political parties. People who were expressing this type of opinion appear not to be serious about the new trend.
A terrorist organization, which is banned in Bangladesh, named Hiz Buth Thaheri, is essentially an elite organization. Most of its leaders are university teachers. The plan they employ to get students from such prosperous cadres into the group is like this: at first, they make a study group; through the study group they gradually brainwash them and ultimately, make them Islamic jihadists. The Bangladeshi government has arrested their main leader, who is a university teacher and has banned their all activities. Despite the ban, they still managed to organize some sudden processions in the capital, Dhaka. While the police did arrest some boys who were in these processions, but being from the elite class, they got their bails easily.
The Ganojagoron Manch was one of the victims of these radicals. The Islamic terrorist first hit it by hacking to death a young intellectual, Rajib Hyder. Government took prompt actions against it and the police arrested five or six boys from one of the leading private university of Bangladesh, North-South University. The common people and most of the intellectuals were however, not much concerned about it.
Now Hiz buth Taheri (HuJi), Jamatul Mujzhidin Bangladesh (JMB) and Anserulla Bangla Team (ATB) make a combination. This combination seems to be a natural combination of madrassas’ boys and the elite boys. How this combination is working is still unknown in Bangladesh. But in the Gulshan attack people have seen this combination take effective shape; their team leader was a madrassa boy and two of the operatives were elites. The local and world media is now very much vocal and are trying to find out why the elite boys were involved in the attack.
The reality is however, a lot different. A section of people are thinking that it is bad politics of the incumbent government that wants to destroy the opposition. On the other hand, some people are thinking it is a battle between believers and atheists. Interestingly, the government was not that much serious about the killing of these boys since they have vote politics to take care of.
For Bangladesh, it is now time to observe the connections. The Islamic terrorists of Bangladesh are homegrown, a few boys went to join IS, some are returning and joining with local terrorist organizations. Huzi, JMB and ATB are homegrown but funded by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. If they have any connection with IS, it is via Pakistan. But, in this case, it will be less tough for the government and the people of Bangladesh to overcome it, because the terrorist are local boys.
The Bangladesh government has to take many major actions soon; they have to think about the existing Pakistani involvement in Bangladesh. The Gulshan attack took place very near the Pakistani embassy and the residence of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. Government should think about how the huge arms and ammunition reached there. It is a diplomatic zone; police checkposts are tight; only embassy or VIP cars can bring it. It is time to keep our eyes open – and act fast.
*Swadesh Roy, Executive Editor, The Daily Janakantha, Dhaka, Bangladesh he can be reached at: [email protected]