: A new wave of terrorism by Islamists rocks the nation
A.H. Jaffor Ullah
linked to Islamic fundamentalism had been rising in
─ a nation of about 145 million ─ since mid 1990s.
A section of terrorists who are using violence to propagate their
brand of Islamism in the impoverished nation want to establish Sha’ria-based
judiciary. These Islamists
have ushered in a new arsenal in the country, which is suicide bombing on
Tuesday, November 29, 2005. The
members of the violent Islamic group had hit court houses in two cities,
and Gazipur (formerly known as Joydebpur but changed the name to show
Islamic demeanor of
since August 1975) killing at least 9 people and injuring nearly 100
people. This new wave of
attack against judiciary of
is a symbolic one. The
Islamists favoring Sha’ria law for the nation do not believe in secular
laws. To show their disdain
for manmade law they are now targeting
’s court system. This is theirs unique way of thumbing nose to judiciary
of this nation. Ordinary people will be scarred to visit the courthouses
lest they are injured by the bomb. Islamists are very clever; they know
that their brand of scare tactic works rather well in this overpopulated
scribe had forewarned the intelligentsia and politicians of
by writing a slue of articles but all the suggestion on how to combat the
growing menace fell on the deaf ear. I
was labeled an alarmist by a handful of writers while the government of
Khaleda Zia was not happy knowing that I supported the seminal articles
written by Mr. Bertil Lintner, Mr. Alex Perry, and Ms. Eliza Griswold.
These are not puny journalists as one may think in
. Mr. Lintner wrote for the
Far Eastern Economic Review, Mr. Perry wrote for the Times while Ms.
Griswold published her article on growth of Islamic fundamentalism in New
early 2000 it was clear that
society was heading for more violence led by Islamists.
In the early phase, the jihadists blew up cultural programs and
their wrath fell on communists and secularists.
Under that backdrop, Mr. Lintner, Mr. Perry, and Ms. Griswold wrote
their articles that sensed an impending evil for
under the hands of Islamic extremists.
But guess what the reactions were?
The government of Khaleda Zia banned the articles written by these
respected journalists. Mrs. Zia and her lieutenants were all upset while
they proclaimed that these articles are marring the good image of
as moderate Muslim majority nation. The Khaleda Administration went so far
as asking expatriate groups in the West to campaign against these articles
written by the “foreigners” that are so critical of her government.
It has not eluded Lintner, Perry, and Griswold that Khaleda Zia
shook hand with Jamaat to win the election in October 2001.
Therefore, her government was looking the other way when Islamic
goons were blasting grenades, bombs, and whatnot to create instability in
Khaleda Zia administration was not the only critique of Mr. Lintner, Mr.
Perry, and Ms. Griswold. The
leading newspaper editors of
also became suddenly very patriotic as they hurled epithets to the
“foreign” reporters calling them reactionaries, sensationalists, and
their work – examples of yellow journalism.
The late Enayetullah Khan of ‘New Age’ pooh-poohed the
“foreign” reporters calling their findings figment of imagination.
How wrong was the editor of ‘New Age?’
It took late Enayetullah Khan at least three years before he called
spade a spade. He realized
that he was wrong all along. From
his death bed he had the courage and fortitude to fire the warning shot
against the fundamentalists who are bent on creating anarchy in
Lately, a handful of lawmakers belonging to the
ruling party are threatening to spill the beans; these politicians are
saying that the government of Khaleda Zia is protecting the Islamists
because they belong to the party Jamaat-i-Islami, which is a leading
coalition partner of BNP. One
of the dissident BNP lawmakers was disciplined and booted out of the party
by Khaleda Zia for breaking party discipline.
In May 2004 when ‘Bangla Bhai’ menace came into
the fore, quite a few parliament members from the western districts of
Bangladesh belonging to the ruling BNP gave protection to the extremist
leader while the police became silent spectators doing nothing but aiding
and abetting the leaders and members of Jagrata Muslim Janata of
Bangladesh (JMJB) who were torturing and killing minority Hindus and
others who protested the scare tactics of Islamic goons.
The charade became a public affair when in the town of
the ‘Bangla Bhai’ men paraded the street in motorcade with the
assistance of Deputy Inspector General, Superintendent, and
officer-in-charge of that city. The entire police force was in fact
backing up the Islamic terrorists while Khaleda Zia, the premier, was
thinking what to do with Bangla Bhai.
Finally, she was forced to issue an arrest warrant for the
extremist leader under pressure from newspaper reports and donor
countries. However, by then,
‘Bangla Bhai’ and his lieutenants went underground.
The same police that protected the leader and followers of JMJB in
Rajshahi told the newsmen that the terrorists and their leader have
probably gone to neighboring
. I am not making this up.
Anyone could visit the archive of on-line newspapers and read the
details of police statement. In
summary, the police and Khaleda Zia Administration have backed ‘Bangla
Bhai’ and his men in the summer months of 2004.
Only after details of torture and killings were publicized in
newspaper, and the political pressure exerted by donor nations became too
unbearable did Khaleda Zia Administration made the volte-face and started
to initiate a massive manhunt to arrest ‘Bangla Bhai’ and his men.
It has been over a year since police were crisscrossing
in search of the terrorist leaders but the man has simply vanished into
the thin air.
spate of bombing is on the rise in
for at least six years. The
blasting of grenades reached a catastrophic proportion on August 21, 2004,
when dozens of military-grade hand grenades were lobbed on Sheikh Hasina
and her lieutenants as Awami League organized an outdoor rally.
The leader was miraculously saved but she lost a few of her trusted
party leaders. A year later on
August 17, 2005, the Islamists blasted over 500 bombs over a period of one
hour in every administrative district.
The firepower of these homemade bombs was very low; consequently
only 2 deaths resulted from the blasts.
But the event was a highly “successful” one.
The Islamists proved the point that they are well organized to
blast hundred of bombs or hand grenades synchronously.
That event alone scared the hell out of all the newspaper editors
and intelligentsia of
was a watershed in the annals of
history. It was only after
8-17 blasts that the nation shook and shivered knowing fully well that
Islamists are united to unleash their firepower.
these menacing acts were acting out in various parts of
the government of Khaleda Zia took her case to the people.
This time the plea was as follows: these bombings were done by the
intelligence department of a neighboring nation.
To give credence to her cock-and-bull story she asked a lone
Justice to look into the incident of August 21, 2004, bombing of public
meeting that took place in
. A Justice by the name Joynul Abedin went as far as saying that a foreign
government with the assistance of local hoodlums engineered the blasts.
The government of Khaleda Zia knew who were behind the blasts
because their proverbial thumb impressions were left allover the crime
scene. A few knowledgeable people inside
even hinted the involvement of military.
But to refute all the claims Mrs. Zia had to invent this conspiracy
theory to malign
’s next-door neighbor.
event of 8-17 marathon blasts changed the perception of Bangladeshi people
vis-à-vis who is behind the crime. The
Islamists now make no bones about who is the mastermind behind the blasts.
They took full credit for the blasts.
Therefore, the battle line is being drawn.
The Prime Minister, Khaleda Zia, is now on a fix.
How to handle the matter without creating a rift with her coalition
member, Jamaat, who many in
think is the party behind the grenade and homemade bomb blasts.
remains to be seen how these episodes of bomb blasts against judges, and
courthouse play out in
. The ordinary citizens are
simply fed up with the spate of blasts.
There may be many surprises waiting to happen when the next
parliamentary election takes place in the country.
The ruling party may have to pay a price for being so cozy with the
’s history is replete with surprises. The time between now and the next
parliamentary election is eon away and many events may unfold.
Therefore, stay tuned. Oh,
one more thing.
’s politics is full of caprice; therefore, one never knows what is in
store for this unpredictable nation.
Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist,