When in February 2021, Bangladesh decided that it would not accept any new Rohingya refugee and conveyed that the country is under no obligation to do so, such decision was too late, as during 2017-2021, over one million Rohingya refugees have become a ticking time bomb. Meanwhile, Rohingyas are actively involving into numerous types of criminal activities, ranging from robbery and abductions, to smuggling of arms and drugs in the region. In the recent years, Rohingya male and females are also joining Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a jihadist group that denounces democracy and supports establishment of Caliphate. Meanwhile, notorious terrorist groups such as Hizbut Tahrir, Hefazat-e-Islam, Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) etcetera have already penetrated within the Rohingya refugees and spreading jihadist madness.
For years, I have been warning about potential threat ARSA would pose to Bangladesh, India and the region, and beyond. But it seemed, no one really paid any real attention to my warnings. As a result, we are now pushed towards facing double challenges posed by the Rohingyas – refugee crisis and militancy. Can we tackle this challenge now? My answer is – yes, we can. But while we are already facing serious challenges posed by Rohingya militancy and we have already opened another floodgate of future jihadists, which is yet to show its devilish face.
Decades ago, thousands of Bangladeshis went to Afghanistan to fight against Soviet Army. Subsequently they became jihadists, while many of them joined Al Qaeda, others formed various militancy entities under different titles and leadership. The whole bunch of Afghan fighters turned into a major threat to security of Bangladesh and the region.
Recently, in May this year, when Israeli forces were responding to mega-terror outfit Hamas’s rocket attacks, our policymakers did not even understand the difference between Palestinians and Hamas. They even did not understand a plain fact – Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which is a mega-terror outfit. When we were rushing in sending cash and medicine to Gaza, we did not realize, it was actually helping a dangerous terrorist entity.
As we already know, thousands of Bangladeshi youths have been regularly going to Gaza and joining “battle” against Israeli forces. To my knowledge, Palestinian envoy in Bangladesh and Iranian missions are actively involved in recruitment and sending of Bangladeshi youths to Gaza to join Hamas. If Iranians are so much sympathetic to the Palestinians or Hamas, why are they not sending their own nationals to fight along side Hamas? Why are they targeting youths from countries like Bangladesh? Do we understand the vicious agenda of terror-patron Iran? Recently Hamas has openly declared itself being affiliated with Iran as well as Iranian proxies Lebanese Hezbollah and Yemeni Houthis. Their common agenda is to help Iran in establishing Shiite caliphate in the Middle East and other Muslim nations. Bangladesh is already one of the prime targets of Iran, Hamas and other jihadist entities as the most convenient soil of nourishing and nurturing radical Islamic militancy. And, to have further advantage of spreading militancy, those pro-militancy forces and nations would find Rohingyas, majority of whom already are radical Muslims, as the most suitable community to exploit.
Bangladesh, to begin with, should have never opened its door to 1.1 million Rohingya refugees as the nation was under no obligation to do so. The conflict was entirely an internal problem of Myanmar and Bangladesh should not have had to play a role in it. Even India and Thailand, two of Myanmar’s larger neighbors did not open their border to the refugees, however, just because the Rohingyas are mostly Muslims, it stirred the sentiment of many Bangladeshis who sometimes even decided to speak out against the nation and the government when Bangladesh government was initially reluctant about meddling into the internal affairs of Myanmar.
However, seeing millions of people being killed and persecuted in Myanmar, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina decided to let the Rohingyas in out of pure kindness. She even told the international media that we are a poor country but we will share our food with the refugees, if necessary. However, it is immensely deplorable that a section of the international media are portraying Sheikh Hasina’s kindness in a negative manner. Especially, when no other nation in the world had come forth to help, when it was time to solve the Rohingya issue, but everyone jumps into the bandwagon to wrongly criticize a leader who deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for hosting an unprecedented number of refugees, and when Bangladesh is being held responsible for a conflict and crisis centering Myanmar’s Rohingya populace, which they had not even remotely created.
When the Washington Post allows jihadists and militancy groups to use their platform to propagate abhorrent material just to provoke further unrest in Bangladesh with the ulterior motive of spreading the jihad madness in a flourishing Bangladesh, will Bangladeshis still fail to see the connection between the Rohingya issue, terrorism and solidarity with Palestine, and more specifically with Hamas? A deep dread lies ahead if we fail to forsake this sentimentalism surrounding the Muslim identity of others.
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