Bangladeshi Students Bombed for Celebrating Valentine’s
By Chris Blackburn
is on the brink of anarchy and increasingly looks like it
could become a new front on the
led War on Terror.
On the 14th February
were attacked by a series of bombs while they were celebrating St.
Valentine's Day. This attack has been seen as another atrocity in what is
seen to be a campaign of terror unleashed by radical Islamists against
secular and pro-democratic activists.
Students had been warned by local Islamists
that celebrating love and romance was forbidden in the Quran and they
deemed the events to be un-Islamic. 12 people were badly injured in the
explosions but thankfully no one was killed.
have increasingly become flashpoints for acts of terrorism as radical
Islamists see the open and tolerant atmosphere’s encouraged by
universities and colleges as breeding grounds for communists, secularists
and pro-democracy activists. Students have been beaten and harassed by
Islamists for displaying their support for democracy.
Professors and academics have not escaped these
Dr Humayan Azad, of
, was critically injured on the 27th February 2004 by radical Islamists
tied to the fundamentalist Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) religious party. Dr. Azad
was attacked by a group of men who stabbed him repeatedly with machetes.
He was lucky to survive the attack. Dr. Azad managed to name his
assailants; however he went into self imposed exile in
and died of a heart attack. The stress of his ordeal was believed to have
contributed to the attack.
Prof. Mohammad Yunus, of the
, was another victim of Islamist violence on campus. He was violently
murdered by unknown assailants in late December, 2004. He had been taking
his morning walk around campus when he was set upon by a gang wielding
knives and an axe. His attackers covered his head with cloth then set
about hacking into his face, neck and throat. It was well known on campus
that he had angered Islamists from the student wing of the Jamaat-i-Islami.
Professors and students called for the attackers to be arrested.
The country is relatively new, born in 1971. It
was formerly known as
but the Bengali people fought to remove the Pakistani dictatorship’s
control from the country and created a new democracy. The killing of
intellectuals by Islamists is not a new phenomenon in
. During the Bangladeshi War of Liberation in 1971 the pro-independence
intelligentsia were systematically targeted for assassination by the same
forces that have been accused of committing the atrocities today.
Newspaper editors, journalists, students and political activists were
rounded up, some being pulled from the homes in the middle of the night
and then murdered by members of the JI and
’s intelligence services. Human Rights activists and the Awami League
are still calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
During the war
Ambassador Archer K. Blood sent a telegram to
to protest the war crimes of the Pakistani Army and the Islamist forces
but he was rebuked and later removed from his post. Cold War politics made
it unable for the
to intervene as they had backed
. The Bangladeshi people were seen to be pro-Soviet and not worth helping.
The country’s independence came at a price however, it is estimated that
up to 3 million civilians were murdered. Another cruel aspect of the war
was the use of mass rape as a weapon of war by the Pakistani Army. Aid
agencies had to quickly set up abortion clinics to deal with the
Anwar Chowdhury, The British High Commissioner
was the target of a bomb attack last year while visiting a Muslim shrine.
Scotland Yard sent detectives to help investigate the blast, it is not
known how much co-operation they received. Last week
sent a low key taskforce from the FBI to investigate the recent bombings
and murders of Awami League leaders and their supporters. Interpol, the
international police agency, has also been brought in to help with the
investigations. The Awami League is a political party which is mainly
secular and pro-democratic. They have asked for international assistance
as they believe the attacks are being covered-up by Islamist supporters in
the Government. They also believe they are fighting for their survival.
Their best politicians have been murdered in a series of bomb attacks.
Zaiba Malik and Leopondo Bruno Sorentino, both
journalists working for Channel 4, were arrested in 2002 while filming a
documentary about Islamist terrorism inside
. They were trying to investigate the claims of political and defence
analysts who were saying that
was on the verge of becoming the new
. The journalists had heard from sources that Mujahideen fighters allied
to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda had been entering the country from
and creating alliances with home-grown radicals. The journalists were
released after high level diplomacy and condemnations from international
human rights organisations. The journalists' tapes and recordings were
seized and not allowed out of the country after they were deported.
is geographically sandwiched between
, two nuclear rivals whose bitter hatred for each other has nearly
resulted in nuclear exchanges. This has been viewed as the main reason
has been reluctant to engage in the current situation. It increasingly
’s new primary concerns.
The crisis in
’s biggest test in the War on Terror. The
response will show the world the Bush administration’s true intentions.
George W. Bush has claimed that the
wants to spread democracy in the Muslim world. This is his opportunity.
The problem surely cannot be ignored. So will the
ignore the situation and continue to democratise the hydro-carbon enriched
Muslim nations or will it help the second largest Muslim democracy from
turning into a dangerous failed state? I hope they choose both, but I
suspect they will ignore the latter…If history is anything to go by.
Chris Blackburn is a political analyst
and writer. His expertise and research areas include intelligence,
counter-terrorism and defense. He is also the British representative of
National Intelligence Conference and Exposition.