The the Afghani Muslims people in 1979-1990 against Russia.

The persons
associated with the religious extremism groups believe that their prophet
Mohammad (SAW) advised them to protect the Muslims anywhere in the world. They
think it’s their holly responsibility to attack on those who have attacked on
the Muslims (But in their holly Quran, there is no option to attack on the
general people from other religion who are not involved in attacking the Muslims.1
And that’s how the other religious people have become the target of terror
attacks in Bangladesh.

The
beginning of involvement of Muslims in religious extremism was by the purpose
of helping the Afghani Muslims people in 1979-1990 against Russia. Although Afghanistan
is located thousands of miles away from Bangladesh, some enthusiastic youth
joined at that war as volunteers of Islam, as protector of Muslims nations. And
after returning to Bangladesh, they expressed their delight at a press
conference in Dhaka.2
And then they established HuJI-Bangladesh (HuJI-B) on 30 April 1992.3

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In the
first four years, HuJI-B’s activities were basically controlled to the
southeastern hills close to the border with Burma. In this time, their initial
objective was to use Bangladesh as a launching station to influence the Rohinga
movement inside Myanmar. They trained up the Rohinga people to stand up against
Myanmar Military who tortured, killed and raped them instead of giving their
rights of citizenship.4

So, the
process of radicalization that has started with volunteer activity in
Afghanistan against USSR in favor of America has not stopped after Afghan war,
it is still now continuing through active involvement in Arakan war, Bosnia war,
Iraq war and so on. And that’s how the Child “Religious Extremism” has become
matured enough and a big threat to the world security.

2.2 Establishing “Khelafat: Islamic State”

‘Khelafat’ is the term used to mean that there is no
power without ALLAH, there is no sovereignty without ALLAH; so there will be
the rule of only ALLAH in the world. It is one of the main traits of religious
extremist groups in believes. With the purpose of establishing Khelafat- an
Islamic state, the group “Qital fi Sabilililah” (Fighting in the way of Allah)
was established after 1996. And then in 1998, JMB (Jamatul Mujahidin
Bangladesh) established for transforming Bangladesh into ‘Islamic State’.5
This organization simultaneously blasted 450 homemade bombs throughout the
country and conducted a number of suicide attacks in 2005. It was a massive and
highly alarming threat of the terrorist against not only the minority people
but also the Muslims of the country also. The
bomb blasted near Government facilities. In Dhaka, they exploded those bombs
near very important places of the country like- Bangladesh Secretariat, the
Supreme Court building, the Prime Minister’s Office, Dhaka University campus, the Dhaka Sheraton Hotel and Zia International Airport.6

Another alarming international extremist group named
Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT) was found in 2001 as Bangladesh chapter of HT by University
professor who had studied in the United Kingdom as a commonwealth scholar. It
has come to spread the ideology of establishing Khelafat- the Islamic state in
Bangladesh. The workers are slightly different from the previous groups. This
generation of militants can be categorized as a well educated university
students or professional persons having technical skill and well versed in
global political events. It is very much anti-British and –US. They posted
posters around the Shahjalal shrine two days before the attack on the then UK
High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury on May 21, 2004. And on that day, they killed
him brutally.7

2.3 Adoption of Killing as main tool:  Stopping Blasphemy or Anti- Islamism

The People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a secular state  from 1971 to having Islam as the state religion in 1988.  Regardless of its state religion,
Bangladesh uses a secular penal code of 1860—the time of the British
occupation. According to the
penal code, it discourages blasphemy by a section that forbids “hurting
religious sentiments”. Other laws also permit the government to impound and to forbid
the publication of blasphemous material.8

Though there is law against blasphemy, many bloggers and
academicians write blasphemous articles and books which hurt the Muslims
people. Government takes action against them and jailed them after the huge
protests of general Muslims. But the extremist usually don’t follow this
protesting mechanism. They follow killing method against those writers. There
are lots of incidents occurred in Bangladesh.

The religious extremist killed a number of secularist and atheist writers, bloggers, and publishers in Bangladesh with foreigners, and religious
minorities such as Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and Shias since 2013. These attacks have been largely liable
by extremist groups such as Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
(ISIS). Since 2 July 2016, a
total of 48 people, including 20 foreign nationals, were killed in such attacks
by those extremist in blaming the accusation of blaspheme.9
In Bangladesh, a complex situation is existing. The free thinkers like
bloggers, journalists, and academicians are targeting Islam in their writings
and claims that as their freedom. But this extremely hurts the Muslims nations
and enrages them against those writers. It can never be freedom of expression
through hurting the others.

2.4 Multi dimensional Profiles of Islamic
militants

At the
beginning time of radicalization in Bangladesh, a number of Madrasah10
students were involved, but over the time multi dimensional professional people
have joined in these extremist groups irrespective of age, education and
organizations.

 A research paper named “Who are the
Bangladeshi Islamist Militants?”
conducted by Ali Riaz in Volume 10, No 1 (2016) in the site “Perspectives on
Terrorism” explored the multi dimensional profiles of the Islamist Militants in
Bangladesh. In that paper, he discussed the profiles in four broad categories-
age, level of education, occupation and the organization. Among 112 alleged
militants, two were females and a student where fifty-two individuals were
between 18 to 30 years old (65% of the total sample), 23 were between 31 to 40
years old presents 28.39% of the sample. And only one was under 18 years old.
But the alarming information was that there was also a Bangladeshi-born British
citizen.11 From
this finding, it has been clear that there is also the existence of female
extremist and under-18 militants with the involvement of foreigners in
Bangladesh.

From
occupation perspective, Ali Riaz showed that among 65 instances where
references were made to their profession. 12 were madrash student.12  Of the remaining 53 individuals, they are
from different economic strata like garment workers, labors, security guards,
rickshaw/auto rickshaw pullers, fruit vendors and bus drivers; 27 of them are
engineers, businessmen and students; five are teachers ,two of them described
as IT experts, two are described as arms dealers, and one is an office clerk of
a hospital. So, this finding shows that the occupations are not concentrated
only at the madrasha student or at madrasha but it has spread to the different
economic and professional strata.

From the
perspective of educational background, the multi disciplinary students are
involved in the militant groups. All of the students have completed at least 12
grades not only from madrasa, but also from general discipline with English
medium also. There were also PHD holders, electrical engineering students,
graduates and post-graduates students from Soil science, Chemistry, English
literature and Business studies. It is interesting to note that five of these
alleged individuals are from cadet colleges the highest academic army
institution in Bangladesh.

This investigative analysis about the multi dimensional
profiles of the religious extremist does not provide a definitive profile of
the Bangladeshi ‘Islamist militants’ but shows that their features are very diverse.
The above discussion shows that the majority of the individuals have come from
middle class or upper middle class backgrounds; and considerable number were
educated in prestigious institutions of higher learning and/or have a
background in technical education. The militants are mostly youth centric should
not come as a matter of surprise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

Reasons
for the rising religious extremism in Bangladesh

 

Islamic
extremism and militancy is a very multifarious and multidimensional crisis for
the country Bangladesh. Because there is no single description can be applied
to find out the root causes of Islamic militancy and terrorism in Bangladesh.
Ali Riaz (2008) says “Islamist militancy is nothing, just the cause of the
complex web of domestic, regional and international events and dynamics in
Bangladesh”.13 He
argues that the Islamist extremism is the output of both errors of omission as
the state, politicians and civil society failed to stop the rise of militancy
and errors of commission because the top officials and politicians and civil
society have worsened the situation instead of betterment. Actually the rise of
religious extremism and militancy is closely linked to the various factors.
Scholars from national or abroad have identified various kinds of root factors
for the rise of extremism.  For example-
Ali Riaz (2008) says, the factors are domestic, regional and international that
raises the extremism. Quamruzzaman (2011) thinks that the root cause is the
historical and political; Datta (2007) says that the madrasa and political
patronage are the main factors while Momen and Begum (2005) blaming the political,
economic and cultural factors as root cause of Islamic militancy.

However,
it has been clear that actually it is very difficult to explain the root causes
of militancy in a single sentence. For that, here, in this paper I have divide
this chapter into two segment.  First one
is- Internal factors and second one is external factors. Under these two segments,
various important factors will be discussed manually.

 

3.1 Internal factors: Creation of Macro
Environment for religious extremism rising

The
internal factors mean those factors are primarily liable for the rising of Islamic
extremism within the country; those create macro environment for religious
extremism rising; those internally spread the poison of extremism and motivate
them to be militants. Among them political denial and blaming game, political
party patronage to the militants, politicization of Islam, cultural and belief
conflicts between Bengalism and Islamism, blaspheme writings, illiteracy of
Islamic knowledge,  abuse of mass and
social media, poverty, unemployment and decline of social bondage are the triggering
internal factors primarily liable for the rise of Islamist extremism in
Bangladesh (Datta, 2007;

Harrison,
2006; Vaughn, 2007; Rahman, 2004; Quamruzzaman, 2010; Institute for Defense
Studies and Analysis, 2009; and Canadian Security Intelligence Service, 2003).

3.1.1 Game of political denial and blaming:
Creation of favorable space for the rise of               militancy

Bangladesh,
a developing country still has not achieved true democracy status since its 47
years of independence and installment of democracy. A confrontational political
culture is observed here. Lack of nexus and coordination between the party in
power and the opposition parties are the crucial features of this so called
democratic country. Any things bad happen in this country are made a tool to
blame the opposition parties and torture them brutally. This non- development
of political gives the militants the opportunity to operate their tasks freely.
If we see the history of the Bangladeshi governments, we see that they never
admit the presence of militancy in the country. Rather, they blamed the
opposing parties for the terrorist activity caused within the country in their
respective regimes (Rahman, 2016).14
He further argues that the regime Awami League (AL) in 1996 to 2001 faced
several militant attacks. But they linked those attacks to the opposition party
named Jamat-e- Islami and its student wing named Islami Chatra Shibir. The same
game of blame was played by the ruling regime Bangladesh Nationalist Party
(BNP) in period 2001 to 2006. Many major terrorist attacks were took place
during this regime. There was no scope to deny the existence of militancy but
they deny that as well and blamed the then opposition party Awami League (AL)
for these militancy.

Riaz
(2008) says, “Islamist militants have grown in the midst of the political
environment. Because of the confrontational politics by the two major parties –
BNP and AL from the late 1980s, Islamist groups have envisioned an Islamist
Bangladesh”.15
However, under the vacuum of strong political environment, lots of militants
groups have been established and operating their activities since 1990 to
present in guise of various names and forms. For that Bangladesh has witnessed
the rapid rising of militant groups such as Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh
(JMB), Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), Al-Queda in Indian Sub-continent (AQIS),
Harkatul Jihad Banglasdesh (HuJI’ B). The most alarming thing is that the
Islamic State (IS) has grown up in this country. There is no way to deny the
existence of IS as they claimed the responsibility for most of the recent
attacks in 2016 to present (Rahman, 2016).

1  Al- Quran, Sura Tawbah (38-39 verses)

2  Interviews with a
number of reporters, including Zayadul Ahsan–then a senior reporter of
the Daily Star–

    present  in the press conference. Dhaka, January 2006

3 Islami Biplob (Islamic
Revolution), a bulletin published from Sylhet. Also see: Julfikar Ali Manik,
“HuJi

   kingpins’ coalition link keeps cops at
bay,” Daily Star, 7 November 2005, p. 1.

4 The most persecuted
people on Earth?’, The Economist, 16 June 2015; accessed on June
17, 2015;   

  
URL: http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21654124-myanmars-Muslims-minority-have-been-attacked- 

    
impunity-stripped-vote-and-driven

5 A. Riaz, Islamist Militancy in Bangladesh,opcit.–Polemical
tone aside Subir Bhaumik provides useful

  
information in his essay titled ‘Jihad or Joi Bangla’ in Jaideep Saikia
and Ekatarina Stepanova

  
(Eds.), Terrorism: Patterns of Internationalization, New
Delhi: Sage, 2009.

6  “Bombs
explode across Bangladesh”.
BBC News. 17 August 2005. Retrieved 17 August 2013.

7 “Hizb ut-Tahrir banned in the
most of ME”,The Daily Star.net, September 19, 2008

8 “Bangladesh” (PDF). United States Commission on International Religious
Freedom. May 2009. Retrieved 8

  
August 2009

9 “Motion
Timeline: 29 killings in 4 years”, thedailystar.net,
2 May 2016, retrieved 6 May 2016

10 Muslims Schools where Islamic education is taught.

11  ‘Involvement with IS, a British Citizen Arrested’, Prothom
Alo, 30 September 2014, p.1;

12 “12 Arrested in Rab Operation in Hathazari’, Daily
Janakantha, 21 February 2015;   

     
URL: http://dailyjanakantha.com/?p=details=110617

13 Riaz, A. (2008). Islamist
Militancy in Bangladesh: A complex web. NY: Routledge

14 Rahman, M,A .
(2016),The Forms and Ecologies of Islamist militancy and terrorism in Bangladesh

15 Riaz, A. (2008). Islamist
Militancy in Bangladesh: A complex web. NY: Routledge