The 8/17 blitzkriegs by Islamists does not bode well for
A.H. Jaffor Ullah
The August 17, 2005, will go down in the annals of
history as the day Islamists blasted uncountable homemade bombs allover
. The idea was not to inflict bodily
injury, but to get maximum attention from the blasts.
In that regard, their objectivity was met; they received the “honor
roll” or dubious distinction.
The news of the mini blasts made the headlines all across
the globe. This scribe read the news
of the blasts moments after they rocked
in the Internet. Of all major news
networks, the AFP gave the maximum coverage.
On top of it,
’s newspapers also described in gory details the heinous incidences that mar
the good name of
The government of Khaleda Zia, which is so petrified every
time someone says
has become a new hub of terrorism, has to swallow their own words as they gave
glib answer when bombs or grenades rattle the republic of 145 million.
Digging the archives of English news dailies published from
Dhaka will reveal a plethora of information on how Khaleda Zia’s government,
which is soft on Islamists, had abetted the goons of Jagrata Muslim Janata of
Bangladesh (JMJB) in western districts of Bangladesh in early 2004.
Under pressure from the donor nations, the four-party alliance government
headed by BNP finally outlawed the wayward Islamic Party headed by Bangla Bhai.
Before the leaders of JMJB went underground later in 2004, their
enthusiastic supporters took to the street in Rajshahi in motorcades flaunting
their newly gotten popularity. Now
after a year when the news of bomb blasts made headlines on August 17, 2005 in
the West, the name of JMJB came into fore one more time.
It was mentioned in the news that the coordinated bomb
blasts are probably the handiwork of Jamayetul Mujahideen (JM) and another
hard-line group, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh.
While the JM was banned earlier after their men fought pitch battle in
rural Bangladesh with police, the JM was reincarnated into JMJB.
The spiritual guru of the both the organizations is the same
ultraconservative Mullah who believe in Sha’ria Law and who wants to institute
Allah’s law (read Sha’ria) in Bangladesh.
It is a small wonder that police found handbills in bombsites allover the
country those that are written by JMJB.
Bangladesh had been treading the path of Wahhabi Islamism
for the last three decades with disastrous outcome.
I have been vocal about it and so were quite a few Bangalee writers in
the Internet forums. One such forum
is Mukto-Mona (web forum of freethinkers and secularists from South Asia), which
was started by Mr. Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi doctoral student from Singapore.
However, every time we wrote about growing Islamism in Bangladesh we were
pooh-poohed by “patriotic” Bangladeshis.
When veteran reporters Bertil Lintner and Alex Perry wrote
their articles on emerging fundamentalism and terrorism in Bangladesh, then
secularist writers and freethinkers gave their kudos to the writers.
However, “patriotic” Bangladeshis vilified Mr. Lintner and Mr. Perry
calling them sensationalists. Then
again, in 2004, Ms. Eliza Griswold, a renowned poet whose work is being
published in prestigious New Yorker and reporter at large for New York Times
magazine, published an article on Bangla Bhai phenomenon.
Ms. Griswold also concluded that Bangladesh had been treading the
slippery slope radical Islam in recent days.
The government of Bangladesh found the NY Times magazine article very
“offensive” and distasteful. If
my memory serves me right, the article written by Ms. Griswold was banned in
Bangladesh. After today’s news,
who could refute the conclusion of Mr. Lintner, Mr. Perry, and Ms. Griswold?
Never mind the myriads of article written by a whole bunch of secularists
from Bangladesh who saw nothing but evil in Bangla Bhai’s pet organization
From AFP news of bomb blasts in four-corners of Bangladesh,
we learned that about 350 bombs of various sizes and strength were detonated
over a period of one hour in 64 towns. Two
people died in the blasts while hundreds of people sustained injuries.
The motive of the blasters was not to kill fellow Bangladeshis but to
tell the civil society that the organization that did the coordinated bombings
is a mighty powerful one. The idea
that this organization could organize such a coordinated event should be a
matter of concern. These folks are
gung-ho about bringing Sha’ria Law into Bangladesh.
Thus, they boldly proclaimed that they have no respect for manmade law
(read: the Constitution of Bangladesh); they would like to see Sha’ria as the
law, which the bomb blasters called Allah’s Law.
There are other Islamic parties in Bangladesh those are
very vocal about instituting Sha’ria Law in Bangladesh.
They often take to the streets after Friday Jumma prayer and clash with
the police. These folks are keeping
the momentum going. Nevertheless,
they know that the bulk of the civil society won’t go for such repressive and
antiquated set of laws. The
hard-core Islamists are now using terrorism to make their wish known to
The present government of Khaleda Zia is responsible for
the unprecedented growth of Islamic Constitution Movement.
She kowtowed the Islamists to win the election in October 2001.
The Islamic goons descended on minorities after the victory of the
four-party alliance of which three could be labeled as Islamic parties.
As goons from Jamaat and other Islamic parties unleashed a reign of
terror, she and her party lieutenants kept their lip sealed.
The country witnessed an onslaught of sectarian skirmishes allover
Bangladesh. All the signs are there
for growing sectarianism in Bangladesh. But
the government won’t raise its finger against the Islamists.
The reason is very clear. Khaleda
Zia’s party, BNP, has to kowtow the Islamists if she wants to win any future
parliamentary electron; the next one is slated for late 2006.
The Islamists know this for a fact and that is precisely why they are
thumbing their nose at the present government.
The police in Bangladesh are not taking the events of
August 17 seriously. In AFP report,
it was mentioned that Abdul Kaiyum, Bangladesh's Inspector General of Police (IGP),
said, “These were small, homemade bombs designed to create panic.”
How could the IGP say such a foolish thing?
A bomb blast is a blast. In
the eyes of police, terrorism no matter how small its scale is should be
considered the act of terrorism. The
police are trying to downplay the incidences of 350 bomb blasts.
The home ministry is also acting rather naively when a
statement from the department read, “After
analysing all the incidents it is assumed that the main aim of the explosions
was to create panic and to create a destabilised situation in the country.”
We all know that blasting small homemade bombs could hardly do much
damage and kill people but the government is misreading the incidence of August
17 bombings. The fact that the
organization could coordinate and execute such a complicated scheme of bombings
in 64 towns within a specified time should give a chill.
The organization has some grassroots support and have the capability to
do harm to Bangladesh’s ordinary people – this is good enough for giving the
government a real shock. All this
downsizing of the impact from the blasts serves no real purpose.
The government should sternly deal the growing menace of bomb blasts and
squish the Islamic Constitution Movement, which is growing à la cancer.
Finally, the JMJB men should be rounded up from all
districts of Bangladesh. The
government agencies running the intelligence know the identity of Bangla Bhai
goons. The Prime Minister and her
cabinet ministers should stop giving a lip service while not addressing the
growing menace of terrorism that is being perpetrated by Islamic terrorists.
The longer the government waits the more powerful the terrorists will
become. Catch them when they are
inexperienced or else face the consequence.
The bomb incidences of August 17, 2005, should not be taken
blithely. Either the government
should squish the Islamic Constitution Movement at this time or the civil
society will face Islamists’ wrath in the near future.
The BNP and her alliance members have been nurturing the proverbial cobra
– the hooded serpent – all these days with milk and banana only to find that
the serpent is expanding its hood too early to bite the masters.
Won’t it be easy to kill the hooded serpent at this time or face
serpent’s wrath in near future?
Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes
from New Orleans, USA