Dhaka asked to adopt ‘counter militant ideology’


Dhaka : Bangladesh may end up facing militancy like Pakistan in just five years if the government does not come up with a counter strategy, says noted Sri Lankan political and strategic analyst Rohan Gunaratna.

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He has urged Bangladesh to create “strategies within itself and the civil society”, The Daily Star reported Monday.

A global expert on the Al Qaeda, Gunaratna said Bangladesh has the operational capability to prevent militancy. However, the government does not have mechanisms in place to enforce and follow up sweeping arrests of the militants.

He warned that “disbelieving the Al Qaeda threat is dangerous as demonstrated by the case of Pakistan”.

Referring to the countrywide blasts carried out by the Jama’at ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) on Aug 17, 2004 when 28 people were killed, he said: “The JMB was known to the Bangladeshi authorities before that incident, (but) there wasn’t the initiative on part of the Bangladeshi authorities to act against this group until they could plan and conduct the operation”.

Awami League chief and former prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s rally was also attacked by grenades that day and she was fired upon.

The JMB was able to work under a religious cover through which they made linkages within the country and was able to survive and grow enough to conduct the Aug 17 operation.

“The threat of terrorism is sometimes hidden,” Gunaratna said, “Though JMB leaders have been executed, the ideology of this group has not been effectively countered and so, the threat persists.”

Six top JMB leaders were caught, tried and convicted for killing two judges in 2005. They were executed in February this year.

“It is important to manage the threat through capture and arrests and also by building necessary structures within government and the civil society to counter the group’s belief system,” Gunaratna said.

He said it was important for the economy to grow if militancy was to be effectively mitigated as militants readily exploit poor communities for recruits.