Bangladesh is scheduled to hold the next general election on December 30. This election particularly is seen as a battle between the Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its political and ideological darling, Jamaat e Islami Bangladesh (JIB). Despite this fact, India, unfortunately, has been maintaining total silence while Pakistani spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) has become extremely active in ensuring the victory of its long-time ally JIB and BNP. Pakistan wants to see an anti-Indian political force in power in Bangladesh.
The game of Pakistani ISI
Pakistani spy agency – Inter Service Intelligence has become active in seeing Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat e Islami Bangladesh (JIB) form the next government in Bangladesh following December 30 general election. According to ISI is seeing the upcoming election as a battle between Islamabad and New Delhi and are willing to see an anti-Indian BNP and Jamaat win a landslide victory. With this goal, ISI officials had already held a meeting with BNP’s fugitive leader Tarique Rahman in London as well JIB leader barrister Abdur Razzak promising all possible cooperation in attaining this target.
ISI also has been using its contacts in the US Capitol, including the US Senate and Congress with the agenda of getting Washington’s support towards BNP and Jamaat.
Jamaat is a global terror outfit
According to several counterterrorism organizations and individuals, Jamaat e Islami is a terrorist organization with a network in a number of Western countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. Commenting on Jamaat e Islami (JI), Abha Shankar, Senior Analyst at the Investigation Projection Terrorism Investigative Project on Terrorism and Sam Westrop, Director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum in an article wrote, “In the decades since the 1971 war, JI has committed violent acts all across South Asia and, today, the Bangladeshi branch is closely involved with Islamist terror in both Bangladesh and India. JI leaders have openly expressed support for Taliban terrorists and mourned their deaths. And in 2017, the U.S. government designated Hizbul Mujahideen, a Kashmiri jihadist group backed by Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, as a terrorist organization.”
Pakistan’s dissatisfaction towards Anti-Jihadist action
Earlier a Pakistan-based research report conducted by Abdullah Khan, the Managing Director of Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) said, counterterrorism and counter-militancy initiatives of Bangladesh and India are “state-sponsored terrorism”. It said Islamic State (ISIS) is “provoked by the governments of India and Bangladesh which are known for their ‘state-sponsored terrorism’ against the Muslim communities”. The report claims, “Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are under a new resulting from a major shift from the Middle East.”
According to the PICSS report, ‘Wilayat-e-Hind’ (WeH) is the new chapter of Daesh which is quickly attracting the educated youth in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, and promoting its radical Islamic and antisemitic ideology.
The study titled “Prospects of Daesh’s Expansion in South Asia” further said, “An unorganized presence of WeH militants has been identified in parts of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and other countries of the South Asian region. The WeH operates as an Indian chapter of the ISIS which was formally announced in 2016.”
It highlights that the Indian citizens, especially from Kerala State, find ISIS more attractive than any other radical Islamic militancy group and at least 54 people from Kerala have announced to join the ISIS during the past three years.
“Those who have joined the Wilayat-e-Hind are well-educated and most of them are engineers, doctors, and MBA degree holders. Indian citizens are mostly joining Khorasan chapter of Daesh than the core group in Syria or Iraq. However, the possible launching route of Indian ISIS members to Afghanistan is not clear yet,” the study reads.
Criticizing the counter-militancy initiatives of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Abdullah Khan told Pakistan Today, an English newspaper from Pakistan, “…… the WeH Bangladesh chapter was another surprise addition where the so-called secular regime of Prime Minister Hasina was targeting religious Muslim groups under a witch-hunt drive.”
Here, Pakistani research group falsely portrays notorious radical Islamic militancy groups such as Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), Ansar Al Islam (AAI), Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) and the student front of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JIB) as “Islamic groups” with the ulterior motive of misleading the global and in particular Western counterterrorism bodies.
US State Department branded Jamaat affiliate HM as a terrorist entity
US Department of State in a report dated August 16, 2017 said, “The Department of State has designated Hizbul Mujahideen—also known as Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, also known as HM—as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. These designations seek to deny HM the resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks. Among other consequences, all of HM’s property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with the group.
“Formed in 1989, HM is one of the largest and oldest militant groups operating in Kashmir. Hizbul Mujahideen is led by Specially Designated Global Terrorist Mohammad Yusuf Shah, also known as Syed Salahuddin. Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014, explosives attack in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people.
“Today’s action notifies the U.S. public and the international community that HM is a terrorist organization. Terrorism designations expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of U.S. agencies and other governments.”
The Jamaat-e-Islami network
Abha Shankar and Sam Westrop further wrote “In America, JI [Jamaat-e-Islami] operatives have their own prominent institutions, which pose as representative bodies of American Muslims. These institutions and their officials have served as vocal supporters of JI in Pakistan and Bangladesh helped coordinate protests against the War Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh, and organized lobbying and PR efforts in D.C.
“In fact, one of the JI war criminals tried in absentia in Bangladesh, Ashrafuzzaman Khan, fled to the U.S. and helped establish and lead one of these American JI organizations: the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). Testimony and evidence showed that Khan served as the “chief executor” of a JI killing squad, named Al-Badr. The war crimes tribunal concluded that he had carried out the abduction and murder of 18 Bangladeshi intellectuals. “They killed top professors, journalists, and doctors to make the nation devoid of any talent,” senior prosecutor M.K. Rahman said immediately following the guilty verdict against Khan.
“ICNA does not hide its JI affiliations and is openly identified as a JI proxy within Islamist circles. ICNA’s educational programs have featured staunch hardline ideologues, and JI founder Maududi’s books have been promoted on the website of ICNA’s youth division, Young Muslims. In fact, JI leader Yusuf Islahi, a leader of JI’s Indian affiliate (JI Hind), has spoken at ICNA conventions and is a chief patron of an ICNA proselytizing project named “WhyIslam.” At a 2001 JI Hind event hosted in the Indian city of Aligarh, Islahi reportedly blamed Jews for the 9/11 attacks, which he nevertheless described as a befitting response to American arrogance.
“ICNA operates an international relief arm named Helping Hand for Relief and Development, a 501(c)(3) which raised an astonishing $40 million in 2016. Despite its position as one of the wealthier charities in America, Helping Hand organized a conference in Pakistan last December with the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, which was designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department in 2010 because of its function as the charitable wing of the Pakistani terrorist network Lashkar-e-Taiba, which helped mastermind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
“Helping Hand chairman Mohsin Ansari (also the former chairman of ICNA Relief) openly identifies as a JI member and refers to the convicted 1971 killers as “heroes” whom the “Pakistani nation will remember… for centuries to come.” He praises Islamist politicians who are elected in spite of efforts by “anti-Muslim media headed by jews [sic].” And in 2016, Ansari revealed that ICNA was asked to arrange funeral prayers for one of the executed war criminals, Motiur Rahman Nizami, the founder of the Al Badr killing squad. Ansari praised Nizami and noted that his son had “has worked in USA (sic) tirelessly for years to help relieve the victimization of Jammat workers in Bangladesh.”
Terror ties have dogged American JI groups for years. One of the two women indicted for their role in a 2015 Islamic State bomb plot lived in an ICNA-run shelter and appeared in ICNA promotional material. And just the other week, on Sept. 6, an ICNA official in Connecticut, Fareed Khan, was indicted by a grand jury after lying to the FBI about his involvement with ICNA and Helping Hand. An FBI affidavit revealed that Khan had been questioned on suspicion of financing terror in Pakistan through the purchase and sale of medical supplies.
The US role in the coming election of Bangladesh
Pakistan, BNP, Jamaat and the bloc of radical Islam and militancy are aggressively working in grabbing power by exerting force. They are seeing the December 30 general election as the most suitable scope of ousting secularist forces from power. It may be mentioned here that, both BNP and Jamaat are favorable to radical Islamic terrorism. According to counter-terrorism experts, if this nexus manages coming to power on December 30, Bangladesh may become the next safe haven of radical Islam and militancy. Jamaat promotes “Allah’s ain” (Allah’s rule) meaning Caliphate. On the other hand, Islamist coalition partners of BNP are in favor of replacing Bangladesh’s secular nature to brute Sharia rule.
As per political analysts’ report, US President Donald Trump has the potential capacity to save Bangladesh from going into the grips of radical Islamists. As a time-tested friend of Bangladesh, United States needs to effectively help Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in saving the country from becoming a Sharia nation or Caliphate.