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Monday, June 13, 2016, Jaistha 30, 1423 BS, Ramadan 7, 1437 Hijri

How credible is IS' claim for Bangladesh killings?
Published :Monday, 13 June, 2016,  Time : 4:34 AM  View Count : 93
Like in most recent incidents of mysterious secret killings in Bangladesh, the Islamic State (IS) has also claimed responsibility for murdering a volunteer of a Hindu monastery in Pabna Sadar Upazila on Friday. The claim was made in a report by the US-based SITE intelligence group---that adverts IS activities worldwide---several hours after Nityaranjan Pandey (60) was hacked to death, the latest victim in the 22 attacks the IS has allegedly launched in Bangladesh since September 2015, killing at least 20 people. The victims included variety of people such as bloggers, atheist writers, teachers, monk, priest and Islamic preacher as well as gay rights activists across the country.
IS, a Middle-East based terror group, repeatedly claims its presence in Bangladesh and warns of more deaths impending in its war on enemies of Muslim faith. However, the Bangladesh government has persistently denied any presence or existence of IS in the country - and on Friday fielded a weeklong crackdown against the terrorists and militants. As of Saturday, police claimed they have netted 37 suspected militants among more than 4,000 people detained. The drive will continue.
The IS, among various local and international terror outfits, has definitely thrown a challenge to the law enforcers in Bangladesh, who apparently are finding it difficult to tackle the growing menace. Are the IS and its local agents in Bangladesh more powerful and technically superior to our law enforcing agencies? The answer is yet unknown. Another question often being asked is whether we actually know about the IS, who they are, what is their mission and how they perform in the global landscape? Born from an especially brutal al Qaeda faction, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - better known as IS -- has grown from relative obscurity in recent years to overshadow its extremist patrons. It now terrorizes large swaths of Syria and Iraq, has become the target of the largest US military operation in Iraq in years and, its cold-blooded execution of multiple Westerners dominates headlines the world over. Lately, it is said that IS has spread its operations to Bangladesh as well. Question is what the IS wants to achieve in this country while they are heavily engaged in the Middle East, the Gulf states and other countries strategically much more important than Bangladesh?
In Bangladesh they have killed (as it is claimed in the SITE and other IS-friendly groups) people virtually on the fringe of the society. But we should not be mistaken for saying this as we surely know all human deaths are deplorable, more so when they happen in mysterious ways - and never to be condoned or viewed leniently. However, considering the IS profile and its operational dimensions, doesn't it look a bit on the lofty side to claim responsibility for the killings in Bangladesh? This may be true or not.
But what I would like to stress here is that before accepting or rejecting the IS claims have our civil and military intelligence agencies done any investigation or survey independently or in collusion with American intelligence to see whether the adverts and statements issued by SITE are credible and can be trusted. Is it too difficult to check whether the statements were actually issued by the IS or any local militant group using the name of IS?
To many of us, the claims seem apparently unbelievable as IS - as we have seen over the years -- targets important public and military figures, involves in face to face battle with powerful army and is trying to establish their own rule and create their own territory. What IS will gain by killing some "comparatively petty' people in Bangladesh is indeed a mystery.
Bangladesh has about a dozen local Islamist militant groups which continue preying on anyone hurting or demeaning Islam and Islamic values. They are doing their jobs without much problem in Bangladesh. Then why IS or other international terror groups would like to join the terror campaign in Bangladesh?
We have seen that Bangladesh government and opposition parties, especially the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), have relentlessly tried to put blame for secret killings on each other - but so far with no confirmation as such. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she has proofs of BNP-Jamaat involvement in these killings while BNP says they are acts of the government trying to divert people's attention from misdeeds and failures. We don't want to argue who is right and who is not. Our concern is IS that we probably are 'popularizing' in our country by way of never ending politically-charged blame game. Should we keep doing so or stop now is a matter to be seriously considered.
Meanwhile, our law enforcers should come out with clear confirmation that people they held on suspicion of militancy are actually militants and present their full details before the public - to remove a growing perception that Bangladesh police and other forces are unable to match the superior IS or other militants as of now.
Sometime we have heard our key police officers saying the militants (Ansarullah Bangla Team, JMB and others) have better training and possess better weapons. Is it so? Bangladesh police are also highly trained in tackling crimes and in counter terrorism and has international support including from America to improve their skills. Then why they should be unable to counter the militants and terrorists in Bangladesh effectively? Bangladesh government spends lot of money on police training and efforts to infuse in them efficiency. Our police personnel in UN Peace Missions have made their mark with lots of praises. But in confronting home-grown militants why they are so helpless!
Around 4,000 people have been detained in two days of the week-long terror hunt - that started only after a senior police officer's wife had been killed in Chittagong. But can't we question why the 'crackdown' on terror did not begin earlier? Didn't the law enforcing agencies know Bangladesh has active militant groups?
Surely they did but it was their 'traditional' apathy and lack of urgency to act promptly. Maybe we have overstayed our compassion and now must take the drive furiously ahead - but sparing the innocent public or political rivals just for politics' sake. The terror groups should be crushed by all means no matter how tough a nut they are to break. And, any measure of insincerity or neglect in doing so must be treated appropriately.
Bangladesh is making steady progress despite on-and-off political turmoil and a continuing standoff between the ruling and opposition parties. Now, the IS 'salt' added to the already hot curry cooked with 'red chilli' will only make it difficult (for the government) to digest.
Therefore, let's give up any adventurism in usual inaction or over action - and instead go straight to bust the terror outfits and destroy their mentors.
Anis Ahmed is Executive Editor, The Daily Observer

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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