Jihad in Bangladesh update. “Bangladesh: Arrests of Islamic Militants Raise Questions about Terror,” from VOANews, with thanks to Ali Dashti:
Bangladesh has banned two extremist Islamic groups and arrested 70 of their members this month – admitting a problem the country has long denied. The question now being asked is whether Bangladesh’s homegrown militant groups could be linked to any global terrorist organizations.
In the past month, the Bangladesh government arrested 70 militants from Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen and banned the two radical Islamic groups.
The suspects have been charged with sedition for their alleged roles in a series of killings, robberies and political violence and bombings across the country.
The charges do not include attacks on opposition party members, such as an assassination attempt on the former prime minister, Sheikh Hasina.
Abdul Jalil, the general secretary of the opposition Awami League, says his party is pleased, as it has been trying to convince the government for years to move against militant organizations. He thinks the difference now is Dhaka is under international pressure to do more to crackdown on militancy in the age of anti-terrorism.
“By doing this, they have accepted the reality. But still then the people of Bangladesh doubt that the arrests and taking action against all these fundamentalist parties is [anything] but an eyewash to the foreign world,” he said.
Critics say the government has been reluctant to act because of tensions within the ruling coalition – which for the first time include two Islamic parties: Islami Oikya Jote and Jamaat-e-Islami.