Bangladesh’s opposition party wages jihad


Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which is also known for its pro-Islamist and anti-India ideologies has called for waging armed jihad and topple-down Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ruling Awami League from power. A prominent leader of BNP, Aman Ullah Aman from a rally said: “After 10th December, the country will run as per instructions of Khaleda Zia. Prepare yourselves to be martyred in the name of Allah without any hesitation…”

It may be mentioned here that BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia has been serving rigorous imprisonment in graft cases since 2017. In 2020, when COVID pandemic broke throughout the world, considering her old age and health issues, Khaleda Zia was shifted from prison to her residence in Dhaka on a temporary basis. It also be mentioned here that Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rahman, who is BNP’s senior vice chairman has been living in London since 2007 as a fugitive. In Bangladesh, he faces several cases and has been convicted in a number of cases.

BNP’s direct connections with anti-India insurgents

Bangladesh Nationalist Party was founded by military dictator General Ziaur Rahman with the core principle of transforming Bangladesh into a Pakistan prototype nation by upholding radical Islamism and anti-India sentiment. This party considers Islamist insurgents in India’s Jammu and Kashmir as well as militancy groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas as their allies. It also has supported and funded insurgency groups such as United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) within northeastern states in India for years, while it also has been supplying weapons and explosives to ULFA and other anti-Indian insurgency outfits.

Indian separatist group ULFA had found refuge in Bangladesh during the last tenure of the BNP-led Islamist coalition government with Jamaat-e-Islami. This has been proven through exposure of several smuggling cases like Bogura ammunition haul and Chittagong 10-truck arms haul in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

The cases revealed that the state machinery of the then BNP-led government had been allowing Indian separatists to use the Bangladesh territory to smuggle in arms for waging war in eastern India.

In their court admissions in the 10-truck arms haul case, arrested former director general of National Security Intelligence (NSI) retired Brig Gen Md Abdur Rahim, and its former director (security) retired Wing Commander Sahabuddin Ahmed revealed that Bangladeshi players had been working alongside Pakistani intelligence to facilitate such arms smuggling.

ULFA military commander Paresh Baruah, who was then based in Dhaka, had directly supervised the huge cache of weapons being brought into Bangladesh.

Baruah lived in Bangladesh for years upon protection from the BNP-Jamaat Islamist coalition government and top brass of intelligence agencies, according to statements of the witnesses and accused in the arms haul case.
Paresh Baruah used a pseudonym, Zaman, and went into hiding soon after the story of the 10-truck arms haul had started unravelling.

Media reports said ULFA had been allowed to set up camps in Chittagong, Sylhet, Sherpur and some other bordering areas in Bangladesh. Its members received arms training there and used to operate in India from the camps.

In July 2010, detained ULFA leader Ranjan Chowdhury told interrogators that their activists had used the camps in Bangladesh between the BNP-Jamaat regime and early period of the post January 11, 2007 interim government. Injured activists had also received treatments there.

One of his interrogators, wishing anonymity, told the media in 2010, “Ranjan told us that to his knowledge, ULFA has no training camp in Bangladesh now”.

Organizing secretary of Dhubri unit, Ranjan was responsible for providing the soldiers from 109 ULFA battalion of Meghalaya, one of the five battalions of the separatist group, with shelter.

According to experts, the then BNP-led government adopted the policy to grant Pakistani spy agency Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) leverage to disrupt peace in India.

ULFA was founded in 1979 aiming to establish a sovereign Assam through arms struggle. It started major violence in 1990 prompting India to begin military operations against it. Over the last two decades, around 18,000 people died in fights between the rebels and security forces.

BNP’s connection with militancy and pro-Caliphate outfits

According to media reports, BNP has directly backed jihadist outfits such as Harkatul Jihad (HuJI) and Jagrata Muslim Janata, which was later named as Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB). At the instructions of Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rahman and few of the key party leaders state machinery were compelled to extend secret cooperation to these jihadist outfits. Furthermore, during General Zia’s and subsequently BNP’s rule Tablighi Jamaat received massive patronization from the government, while anti-Ahmadiyya activities saw an alarming rise. Activists of Khatmey Nabuwat Andolan (KNA) continued attacks on Ahmadiyya mosques as well as homes and business establishments of this religious minority group and pressed demand for declaring members of the Ahmadiyya community as “non-Muslims”.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party had openly proclaimed affiliations with pro-Caliphate Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI) when this radical Islamic group in early 2013 through a massive rally in Dhaka city, which was attended by teachers and students of madrassas, members of BNP, Jatiya Party, various Islamist groups and Tablighi Jamaat pressed forward a 13-point demand. These demands included:

  1. Restoration the phrase “Complete faith and trust in the Almighty Allah” in the constitution
  2. Enact a blasphemy law
  3. Taking measures for punishment of “atheist bloggers”, who led the Shahbagh movement [Shahbagh movement took place demanding capital punishment to war criminals], and anti-Islam activists who made “derogatory remarks” against the Muhammad
  4. Stopping “infiltration of all ‘alien-culture’, in the name of individual’s freedom of expression, including free mixing of male and female” and candle lighting. Stopping harassment of women, open fornication and adultery, sexual harassment, all forms of violence against women and an end to the tradition of dowry
  5. Make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary levels, cancelling the women’s, and anti-religion, education policy
  6. Declaration of Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslim
  7. Stopping the setting up of sculptures at intersections, schools, colleges and universities across the country
  8. Lifting restrictions on prayers for ulema in all mosques across the country, including Baitul Mokarram National Mosque [there has never been any such restrictions]
  9. Stopping Islamophobic content in media
  10. Stopping anti-Islam activities by NGOs in the Chittagong Hill Tracts; Hefazat fears a “foreign conspiracy” to make a separate Christian state in that area
  11. Stop the extrajudicial killing of ulema [in this case, Hefazat-e-Islami actually had demanded stopping Awami League government’s drive against Islamist militancy groups and actions against jihadists]
  12. Stopping the harassment of teachers and students of Qawmi madrassas and ulema [here again, Hefazat-e-Islami wanted government to stop surveillance on suspected madrassas for their involvement in militancy]
  13. Release of all ulema, and madrassa students, that had been arrested and the withdrawal of all cases filed against them, compensation for the victims, and bringing the assailants to justice [so-called religious scholars and madrassa students were arrested on specific allegations of their affiliations with militancy groups].

During this rally, Hefazat-e-Islam declared that Bangladesh would be transformed into a Caliphate state and would be run under its emir Ahmad Shafi as the “emir’ of the country. Meaning, Hefazat-e-Islam had attempted to enforce Taliban or Islamic State protype rule in Bangladesh, where BNP and Jatiya Party had extended open support. Now after nine years, Bangladesh Nationalist Party has stepped into the same shoe by proclaiming jihad against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and ruling Awami League. With such a heinous agenda, BNP is trying to get support from the Western nations, particularly President Joe Biden and his administration. Several lobbyists are working with Democratic Party leaders, including Hillary Clinton in using America in favor of enforcing Caliphate or Islamist rule in Bangladesh. Such activities are getting intensified when Bangladesh is heading towards next general elections, which will take place on January 4, 2024.

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research-scholar, counterterrorism specialist and editor of Blitz. He regularly writes for local and international newspapers on diversified topics, including international relations, politics, diplomacy, security and counterterrorism. Follow him on 'X' @Salah_Shoaib

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