Counter-Terrorism: The Bangladesh Bail Backfire

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October 8, 2017: Bangladesh has increasingly turned to India for help in dealing with growing Islamic terrorist activity inside Bangladesh. This resulted in a recent (August) uncovering of an elaborate plot to kill the Bangladeshi prime minister. This led to some interesting complications.

The assassination attempt was successfully disrupted with many arrests. As details of the assassination plot became known Bangladesh agreed to do something about why so many Bangladeshi Islamic terrorists were showing up in India after being arrested and jailed in Bangladesh. This was something India had been complaining about for a while and had to do with the way the Bangladeshi legal system operated that had been ignored by the government but not the local Islamic terrorists. The basic problem was that just about anyone arrested in Bangladesh could post bail, get out of jail and flee the country. Islamic terrorists had, with increasing frequency since 2013, been doing just that. It seems that 440 Islamic terrorism suspects arrested in that time had been able to post bail, get out of jail and then then leave the country to continue their activities. This often involved efforts to carry out terror attacks in Bangladesh.

Apparently the Bangladeshis felt that if these men were gone they were no longer a problem and in many instances that was the case. But dozens of those who forfeited bail and fled did continue their Islamic terrorism activities, often inside India and increasingly in Bangladesh as well. It turned out that Bangladeshi police also began to complain to the courts about this, especially when it was discovered that many of the bail-jumpers the judges thought would still be in the country were deliberately taking advantage of the bail system and had no intention of being taken alive if the police cornered them again. Because of the casualties suffered in recapturing some of these bail-jumpers the security forces complained about this and the news eventually got out. The same thing happened in other countries, especially India and Burma.

Bangladesh and India have always been close diplomatically (as well as geographically) and as Islamic terrorism became more of a problem during the 1990s Indian intelligence began working closely with their Bangladeshi counterparts. Over the last decade that cooperation has increased and that was largely responsible for uncovering the August assassination plot in time. As part of that effort Indian officials pointed out that to their Bangladeshi counterparts that many of these previously arrested Bangladeshi Islamic terrorists were showing up in international databases as still active, or recently killed, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East. The bail problem had gone international and had to be addressed before it became a major diplomatic embarrassment.

Bangladesh currently has nearly 700 Islamic terrorism suspects in jail and many are eligible for bail. The government is under pressure by local and international counter-terrorism forces to do something about this before more soldiers and police, as well as civilians, get killed by these men.

Islamic terrorism has been a growing problem in Bangladesh since 2014 and this exploitation of the bail system is now seen as a major reason why Bangladesh was unable to deal with the problem. It is an important matter India because many of these Islamic terrorists are intent on killing Hindus in Bangladesh as well as India. This became a major issue in late 2016 when Bangladeshi Islamic terror groups instigated more violence against Bangladeshi Hindus by declaring that some Facebook posts by Bangladeshi Hindus was disrespectful of Islam and deserved punishment. That led to a mob of Islamic radicals attacking a Hindu neighborhood and destroying or damaging over a dozen Hindu temples and injuring at least a hundred Hindus. The reaction to that anti-Hindu violence was even greater (but much less violent) with large groups of Hindus and Moslems demanding that all those involved in these attacks be arrested and prosecuted. Police did arrest 53 suspects in that case and many were soon out of jail on bail and many of them wanted to do more harm to Hindus.

Islamic terrorists are very much a tiny minority in Bangladesh and a very unpopular one at that. The current outbreak of Islamic terrorism reached a peak with the July 1st 2016 attack on a popular café in Dhaka that left 20 dead (including 17 foreigners). The local Islamic terrorists have been on the run ever since but many were able to get out on bail. The most fanatic group in Bangladesh belonged to JMB (Jamaat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh) which had aligned itself with ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). It was ISIL that took credit for the 2016 attack but it was discovered that those who carried it out belonged to JMB, which has been around since 1998 and wants to turn Bangladesh into a religious dictatorship. JMB turned to violence in 2005 and has been at war with the government ever since. The ability to exploit the bail system had been used successfully in recruiting more locals.

According to Islamic radicals, Hindus are the worst kind of infidel (non-Moslem) because, unlike Christians and Jews, they have no common religious roots with Islam. Actually, Hindus do, as there was a lot of Hindu influence in Arabia before Islam appeared there 1,400 years ago, but the founders of Islam choose not to openly recognize the Hindu influence. Thus the harder line on Hindus, who are eight percent of the population of Bangladesh and 1.2 percent in Pakistan. There used to be a lot more Hindus in Pakistan but decades of violence against Hindus (and Christians and other religious minorities) have led a disproportionate number of Hindus to leave.

Bangladesh also blames Pakistan for supporting Islamic terrorism within Bangladesh. This goes back to a 1971 uprising in Bangladesh (then part of Pakistan as “East Pakistan”) that led to a war between Pakistan and India. Many Pakistani military leaders see this 1971 loss as a major reason for Pakistani obsession with India. Not only was the Pakistani army decisively defeated in 1971, but the Pakistan lost much territory (which actively sought to secede and became Bangladesh). Former Pakistani military commander and dictator (via another coup) Pervez Musharraf admitted in late 2014 that he started the 1999 Kargil border war with India as another attempt to avenge the defeat (and loss of Bangladesh) in 1971. Pakistani officers (and many other Pakistanis) have always attributed the loss of Bangladesh to an Indian conspiracy with traitorous politicians in Bangladesh (that used to be called East Pakistan). Bangladesh calls that conspiracy theory absurd and that the real reason for the rebellion was corruption and incompetent government imposed by troops from “West Pakistan” (which after 1971 was all that remained of pre-1971 Pakistan).

 

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