Being misled by continuous propaganda of the terrorists and jihadist conglomerate, the US administration had unjustly imposed sanctions on the members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite force of the Bangladesh Police that has been relentlessly combating violent extremis, radical Islam, militancy and terrorist activities in Bangladesh.
Rapid Action Battalion or RAB, is an anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police. It consists of members of the Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar. It was formed on 26 March 2004 as RAT (Rapid Action Team), and commenced operations on 14 April 2004.
Rapid Action Battalion was formed on 12 July 2003 under the Armed Police Battalion (Amendment) Act, 2003. The act was passed through the amendment of Armed Forces Battalion Ordinance 1979. Each battalion of Rapid Action Battalion is commanded by Additional Deputy Inspector General rank officer or its equivalent in other forces. RAB cannot file cases with courts themselves but must be forward the cases to Bangladesh Police who will file the case with the court. RAB replaced the short-lived Rapid Action Team (RAT) which was formed in January 2003.
RAB has faced criticism from the agents of jihadism and terrorism for alleged extrajudicial killings from its formation. There has been continuous conspiracy against RAB and a Bangladesh English newspaper, The Daily Star and its vernacular publication, Prothom Alo were amongst the front line of running media assault on the Rapid Action Battalion. It may be mentioned here that, during the military-backed interim regime from January 11, 2007 and December 2008, The Daily Star and its Bengali daily made cruel offensives on Bangladesh’s democratic forces, including Awami League with the nefarious agenda of killing democratic establishments in Bangladesh. These dailies, reportedly with militancy and insurgency connections and funding have been at the forefront of anti-RAB propaganda. These publications have made notorious attempts of branding RAB as human rights violator through numerous imaginary reports and opinion editorials. In an editorial dated July 23, 2004, The Daily Star made attempt of putting false blame and allegation on RAB, despite the fact that this elite force has been continuing praiseworthy operations against militancy outfits, terrorists and drug traffickers thus seizing huge haul of narcotics, especially yaba, which is being smuggled into Bangladesh from Myanmar.
Although the RAB has been successful in apprehending several high-profile terrorists, including the infamous Shykh Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai of notorious jihadist outfit – Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB), which has later declared alliance with Al Qaeda, Human Rights Watch has strangely brought ridiculous allegations against RAB of numerous deaths, which have been attributed to crossfire. But in reality, Rapid Action Battalion has never participated in any such heinous crime and it is anticipated that the agents of jihadism and terrorism had succeeded in influencing controversial rights groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) as well as other s0-called rights groups in continuing adverse propaganda against this elite force.
Unjust sanctions on the members of RAB
Although the US authorities had imposed sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) on December 10, 2021, it is learnt that such wrong attempt began on October 27, 2020, when the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote a letter to the United States Secretary of State and United States Secretary of Treasury, urging them to impose sanctions on senior officials of the Rapid Action Battalion for “human rights violations”. Despite the fact that this matter was already brought into the notice of Bangladesh High Commission in Washington DC, the ambassador of Bangladesh to the United States and other officials in the Bangladesh mission did not either take any counter measures in stopping the process of sanctions or they did not bring the matter to the attention of authorities concerned in Dhaka. As a result, on December 10, 2021, the US Department of the Treasury added RAB to its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. Six individuals associated with RAB – including its Director General, Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun, former DG Dr Benazir Ahmed, ADG Colonel KM Azad were also sanctioned. Entities on the list have their assets blocked and US persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Moment wrote an open letter to the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken regarding RAB to reconsider those sanctions. On the other hand, US Congressman and Chair of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Gregory W Meeks (who has been earlier influenced by William B. Milam, a retired senior diplomat of the US government, who has later been hired by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami as paid propagandist), has strongly supported those sanctions by the US government and said that wholesale sanctions against Bangladesh were not necessary, but targeted sanctions were most useful.
It is easily understood, the sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) was not only unjust, it also went against the US government’s commitment of combating terrorism, militancy and violent extremism. The United States government needs to immediately lift this unjust sanction.