Bangladesh’s Counter-Terror Act: Need for a Political Solution

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Increasing concerns about the rise of terrorist attacks 

The terrorist attack in Dhaka’s international and diplomatic enclave Gulshan at the beginning of this month, which left at least 21 victims of different nationalities dead, was followed within less than a week by a bomb attack during the largest Eid congregation (Eid-ul-Fitr the greatest festival of the Muslims) at Sholakia ground at Kishoreganj, killing at least four people and leaving several people injured. Once again, the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, at least directly for the attack in Gulshan. Regarding the Kishoreganj bombing, there are severe indications that it got inspired by IS since it seems to be in close relation with an IS propaganda video just released two days before. Nevertheless, the government officials are following the old rhetoric of continuing to deny the presence of foreign militant groups on the country’s soil.

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Escalating Jihadist Terror in Bangladesh – What Next?

7 Juli 2016; by Siegfried O. Wolf

After witnessing two dramatic terrorist attacks within one week, many people in Bangladesh are asking what happens next? Is the situation getting worse? Or will the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) be able to contain or even eradicate the threat of terrorism? Is terrorism homegrown or imported from outside by international Jihadist organisations? Even if the GoB has been criticized a lot for apparent inaction, last month it gave a major response, when Bangladesh’s security forces carried out a nationwide crackdown on radical Islamists in the country. Continue reading “Escalating Jihadist Terror in Bangladesh – What Next?”

Crackdown on Islamists: Bangladesh’s New Campaign against Jihadi Terror in Perspective

24 June 2016; by Siegfried O. Wolf

Earlier this month, Bangladesh’s security forces carried out a nationwide crackdown on radical Islamists in the country. The main part of the campaign ran over several days and included interventions by thousands of police and paramilitary personal, led to the arrest of more than 11,300 people.

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Rising Islamism in Bangladesh is a European concern too

23 June 2016, Siegfried O. Wolf

Recognizing the steadily declining political, human rights and security conditions in Bangladesh, on June 7, 2016, the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg held a debate on the current situation in the South Asian country. During the lively discourse, several different views were put forth by members of the European Parliament (MEPs) regarding the causes and consequences of the deterioration of the societal and political space, foremost through rising Islamism, intolerance, political radicalization in the country. Considering these different views and opinions it should not come by surprise that there were also different suggestions made as to what should be the next steps by the parliament, and what kind of political action is expected in Europe from Bangladesh political elites in general and the government in particular. Despite varying opinions on what to do, MEPs agree the current political trajectory one may observe in Bangladesh is deeply worrying.

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Terrorism and Jihadism in Bangladesh: The Killing of Rezaul Karim Siddique

His assassination is not only a challenge for democracy but a Jihadist attack on the Bengali nation and culture too

24 April 2016

Image Attribute: Late Dr. A.F.M. Rezaul Karim Siddique, Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, 23 April 2016 marks another sad day for democracy, freedom, and liberal thinking in Bangladesh. Early morning, Professor Rezaul Karim Siddique got brutally murdered as he was waiting in his hometown to catch a bus towards the north-western city of Rajshahi. The 58 years old professor was the fourth academic of Rajshahi University killed and the latest one in a nation-wide series of killings of secular thinkers and writers by Islamist militants. The back-stabbing attack took by surprise not only the victim but also colleagues, students, friends, and family. Professor Siddique was known not to be involved publicly in politics. Furthermore, it seems that there is no evidence that Professor Siddique campaigned for atheism, wrote or spoke against Islam, and never received respective threats. Rather, besides teaching English, he dedicated himself to the promotion of Bengali culture, especially traditionally music, literature, and poetry, at the university as well as in his hometown. In this context, he owned the reputation on purely academic grounds, progressive, and secular person.

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Ansarullah Bangla Team: A Major Threat for Bangladesh’s Democracy

30 January 2016

Image by UNAMID (Albert González Farran)

Since 9/11, the world has considered Pakistan and Afghanistan as the epicentre of Islamic fundamentalism in South Asia, incarnated in the Taliban movement and its affiliates. Many of the early observations dealt with the tremendous challenge which terrorism and religious-militant extremism would pose to peace and stability (from a geopolitical perspective). Continue reading “Ansarullah Bangla Team: A Major Threat for Bangladesh’s Democracy”

Bangladesh executions: What could be the repercussions?

23 November 2015, Siegfried O. Wolf

Exclusive interview with Deutsche Welle, conducted by Shamil Shams:

Recent executions of two opposition leaders in Bangladesh have drawn international criticism. But expert Siegfried O. Wolf tells DW it is crucial for the South Asian country to bring the 1971 war criminals to justice.

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Why the ‘Five Eyes’ Should Not Turn Blind: A Decisive Moment for Counter-Terrorism in Bangladesh

11 November 2015

Introduction
The ‘Five Eyes’ are an intelligence sharing network, known for its exclusive cooperation among each other. However, in order to face the challenge of international terrorism, they adopted increasingly the practice of sharing intelligence with non-‘Five Eyes’ members, like Bangladesh. But instead of using intelligence information for a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, Bangladesh’s Government is suspected to have misapplied this information against political opponents accompanied with severe human rights violations. This accusation created certain confusions in the relations between ‘Five Eyes’ countries and Dhaka, which resulted in demands to restrict security cooperation with Bangladesh. Continue reading “Why the ‘Five Eyes’ Should Not Turn Blind: A Decisive Moment for Counter-Terrorism in Bangladesh”

The Rohingyas Crisis: A Security Perspective from Bangladesh

21 May 2014, by Siegfried O. Wolf
Source: APSA Comment, No. 11, Foundation for Applied Political Science of South Asia (APSA), Heidelberg, Germany.

Historically the Rohingyas are a religious-ethnic community residing in Myanmar. However, since the 1970s the then military regime of the predominantly Buddhist state decided to contest the citizenship status of this marginalised Muslim minority which resulted in their persecution and expulsion to neighbouring countries. The huge number of refugees created complex challenges and threat perceptions for the whole region but especially for neighbouring Bangladesh. Due to the reluctance of the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) to grant the Rohingyas refugee status only a minority of them live in official refugee camps; to date the bulk (more than 500,000) of the Rohingyas are living in unregistered camps. Continue reading “The Rohingyas Crisis: A Security Perspective from Bangladesh”