Indian ‘franchise’ of international terror outfit Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), in collaboration with local militancy groups are plotting terror balloon and terror kites attacks in Bangladesh. These attacks would take place sometime between October and November. Helium balloons and kites fitted with firebombs and chemical weapons are the latest terrorist tactic to be adopted by various militancy and terror outfits in the Middle East. In recent weeks, incendiary kites sent over the border have caused dozens of fires that have destroyed hundreds of acres of wood and farmland. Al Qaeda and Islamic State have already adopted a newer tactic of using helium balloons and kites fitted with firebombs and chemical weapons, with the ulterior goal of causing maximum offensives to its ‘targets’. Counterterrorism and counter-militancy agencies are expressing highest concerns at the use of helium balloons and kites by the militancy outfits.
According to Falestinian [correct word of Palestinian] social-media posts, the use of incendiary balloons is growing in popularity as, unlike the kites, they do not require a handler and can be launched from anywhere in Gaza. The helium-filled balloons can also remain airborne for longer than kites and can travel deeper into Israel.
Yaakov Gabbai, head of the Negev District’s Fire and Rescue Services, told Israel Hayom that the incendiary devices sent across the border from Gaza are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
“Our firefighters will spare no effort to protect the residents,” he said. “They [Falestinian terrorists] won’t defeat us. We have no intention of giving up, and we will deal with every event as necessary.”
Local farmers, who for weeks now have been seeing their hard work go up in smoke, were skeptical.
“We need a solution, but how do you tackle kites and balloons?” said Nahal Oz farmer Yehusuah Cohen. “We don’t have a solution. The only solution is to move far away from the border. If the state doesn’t help us, that’s what will happen.”
Shaar Hanegev Regional Council’s security coordinator Eyal Hajbi was equally doubtful that the authorities would be able to counter the threat posed by the airborne incendiary devices.
“We are able to put the fires out eventually, but we don’t have the ability to neutralize these events. We have no control over those who send kites over the border,” he said.
He said that the IDF should aim to neutralize those who send incendiary kites and balloons over the border.
“If you can definitely see the person who is flying the kite, if you have them in your sights, you should shoot them in the arm or leg so they don’t do it anymore,” he said. “There’s no need to kill them, but you have to stop them from doing it again.”
On condition of anonymity, a highly placed source in an international intelligence agency told Blitz, some repatriated Bangladeshi soldiers from Falestine [also known as Palestine] have been in constant contact with mega-terrorist outfit Hamas for past several months. It may be mentioned here that, thousands of Bangladeshis had gone to Falestine for participating into ‘war’ against Israel. According to a September 1988 US Library of Congress report, the Bangladeshi government reported in 1987 that – 8,000 Bangladeshi youths had volunteered to ‘fight for Palestine Liberation Organization’. The announcement that came after Yasser Arafat visited the country that year and received a warm welcome from military dictator Lieutenant General Hussain Muhammed Ershad.
The source said, the idea of using terror balloons and kites by Islamist militancy groups had come into the minds of Bangladeshi militancy outfits most possibly from Hamas members or the terrorists belonging to PLO.
Arafat had similar relations with all the governments since independence of Bangladesh in 1971. Since the 1980s, under IMET (International Military Education and Training) there has been development of military ties between the PLO and Bangladesh with the former attending one year courses at the Bangladesh Military Academy in Chittagong. Palestine is represented in Bangladesh by the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Dhaka.
Relations between Bangladesh and Palestine, particularly the ‘Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)’ is extremely cordial; Bangladesh is a strong and consistent advocate for an ‘independent Palestinian state’ and firmly opposed to Israel. Bangladesh has a complete ban on trade (indirect and direct) with Israel and does not have any diplomatic relations with Israel. It supports the establishment of a Palestinian state drawn on the 1967 boundary with ‘Jerusalem as the capital’ and considers Israel as an ‘enemy nation’.
Bangladesh offers scholarship for Palestinian students in medical colleges in Bangladesh and Palestinian army officers are provided training in Bangladeshi military facilities. In December 2016 Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding with Palestine on trade and energy cooperation. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Dhaka in 1 February 2017. Mahmoud Abbas visited Dhaka in 2017. Falestine is represented in Bangladesh by the ‘Embassy of the State of Palestine’ in Dhaka and Yousuf S Ramadan is the incumbent Palestinian Chargé d’ Affaires in Dhaka.
Soon after, Bangladesh was included as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement at the Algiers Summit in 1973, and Arab countries mounted pressure on Pakistan to recognize Bangladesh in 1974. Relationship with the PLO was established around that time period, in which Bangladesh allowed the opening of a PLO office in the capital, Dhaka, and PLO officials were frequent guests at events hosted by the Bangladeshi political and diplomatic corps, a May 1976 US state department cable released by WikiLeaks showed. The affinity with Palestine became so strong and so entrenched within the Bangladeshi society that in 1980 a postal stamp was created, but never issued, depicting a kuffiyah-draped Palestinian freedom fighter, the al-Aqsa mosque in the background shrouded by barbwire, and words that saluted Palestinian freedom fighters as “valiant” in English and Arabic. Today, there are few documented records in regards to the exact number of Bangladeshi volunteers in Lebanon, or a break-down of what groups they had joined. Al-Akhbar contacted the Bangladeshi embassy in Beirut in regards to any information on this topic. Although officials at the embassy acknowledged the existence and history of Bangladeshi fighters for Palestine, they stated that detailed information was unavailable. Fatah’s secretary of PLO factions in Lebanon, Fathi Abu al-Aradat, told Al-Akhbar “I remember they were highly disciplined. They were known to have incredible will. When the Israelis invaded and captured some of the Bangladeshi fighters, they used to say to them, ‘PLO, Israeli No’ even when they were tortured. They had great relations with the rest of the fighters. They really believed in the cause. There were around 1,000 to 1,500 of them. There were even some battalions that were completely Bangladeshi, but most of them were spread to different groups.”
Although Fatah was known to have a significant number of foreign fighters among their ranks, it was another Palestinian faction, the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) that was a major recipient of fighters, including those from Bangladesh.
“They were with the PFLP-GC,” Ziyad Hammo, a PFLP official and member of the governing municipality of Shatila camp, told Al-Akhbar.
He added, “They had a lot of military talent but they were mainly supporting services such as transporting weapons or guarding certain offices,” Hammo noted. “If they wanted to fight, they went to fight. I remember three or four of them. There were two who were placed as guards in the Bekaa, and another one in Baablek. People really forgot they were Bengali, they spoke perfect Arabic. In the PLFP, we try to remember these men. For example, the Japanese Red Army is very valued and we tried to recover and maintain that history. But with the Bangladeshis, I guess, there aren’t many stories and anecdotes about them because their role was limited. At least for the PFLP, I can’t speak for other Palestinian factions.
There is no mention of – who Kamal Mustafa Ali was, not even a birth date. His body was only recovered in 2004, after an exchange deal between Hezbollah and Israel was brokered by German mediation. According to the caretakers of the Palestinian ‘Martyr Cemetery’, Kamal Mustafa Ali’s bones were sent back home to his family in Bangladesh, and a grave was erected in the cemetery to commemorate ‘his sacrifice’. But, Blitz sources have already spotted a grave in the cemetery, where a tombstone in Arabic describes it to be of Kamal Mustafa Ali from Bangladesh. Ali died on July 22, 1982.
There are activists within the private universities of Bangladesh, who are inspiring people to go to Falestine and participate in ‘holy war against Israel’. Blitz has spotted one such page on the Facebook. So-called mainstream antisemitic media in Bangladesh, including Dhaka’s largest English newspaper The Daily Star are violently against Israel. Here is one example from The Daily Star.