With the next General Elections scheduled to take place in January 2024, ultra-Islamist and notoriously anti-Bharat and anti-Hindu political force namely Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is continuing countrywide blockade, setting fire to public transports, physically attacking members of law enforcement agencies thus creating a reign of terror – its ideological allies such as Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) is also xeroxing similar destructive acts. Pro-Sharia Islamic Constitution Movement and pro-Caliphate Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI) are also perpetating destructive acts with the ulterior agenda of toppling Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the ruling Awami League. BNP, Jamaat and its Islamist-jihadist cohorts are repeatedly branding Awami League and Sheikh Hasina as being “puppets” of India and even going further by branding them as “enemies of Islam”.
BNP’s anti-India notoriety and terrorist acts
BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman was born in Karachi on November 20, 1967. On August 21, 2004, at the direct instructions of Tarique Rahman, terrorists of BNP along with members of militancy outfits such as Harkat-ul-Jihad (HuJI) launched grenade attacks targeting Sheikh Hasina and leaders of Awami League. According to the court verdict, this gruesome attack was a well-orchestrated plan through abuse of state power. All the accused, including BNP Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman and former top intelligence officials, were found guilty and handed down various punishments for the grenade attacks that killed 24 people and injured scores. In the murder case, Tarique and 18 others were sentenced to life in prison.
The conviction of these once influential politicians, former top officials of police, DGFI, NSI, CID and top HuJI militants exposes the meticulously devised plan and abuse of state machinery to not only carry out the attack but also to mislead the investigation.
Major General Gaganjit Singh, former Deputy Director General of India’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), said BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman was the mastermind of 10 truck arms haul in Chattogram [Chittagong] in 2004. Talking to India-based Media house a television channel in Bangladesh, he said the arms were being supplied under the direct patronisation of the then BNP-Jamaat alliance to use Bangladesh as a sanctuary.
The BNP aims to establish Sharia Law in Bangladesh with the backing of Islamist allies, potentially transforming the nation into an anti-Semitic caliphate, mirroring the Afghan model
Ten trucks full of arms seized at Chittagong in April 2004 were meant not only for the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) but also for a few other rebel groups in India’s North East to destabilise the country, he added. “But he was operating in close coordination with DGFI and some NSI officials who had close links with Tarique Rahman (current acting chairman of BNP) and his cronies in what was then referred to as Hawa Bhaban (political office of BNP)”, disclosed Singh. The arms were being supplied by taking advantage of the BNP-Jamaat alliance to use Bangladesh as a sanctuary, Singh revealed.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) made frantic bids back in 1996 and again in 2006 to remain in power by holding dubious General Elections by setting its people in various key positions. But such notorious bids were foiled due to a mass movement led by the Awami League under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina. During the 2008 general elections, BNP failed to win a majority mostly because of its extreme romance with Islamists and jihadists as well as its direct involvement in terrorist acts – including gruesome grenade attacks on the leaders of Awami League as well as its involvement in supplying weapons and explosives to the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), a separatist outfit in the northeastern state of India. Tarique Rahman, acting chairman of BNP is a convicted terrorist, while he is trying to turn a secularist Bangladesh into a neo-Taliban state.
BNP: Biden administration’s new-darling
After gaining Independence in 1971, Bangladesh adopted secularism as a core principle, ensuring equal rights for people of all faiths. However, following the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, subsequent regimes, notably that of Khondaker Mushtaq Ahmad and military dictator General Ziaur Rahman, began to steer the country towards an Islamic republic. General Ziaur Rahman, trained in Pakistan, harboured deep hostility towards India and founded the BNP to advance anti-India and anti-Hindu sentiment in Bangladesh, aligning the nation with a
General Ziaur Rahman realigned Bangladesh’s foreign policy away from India and the Soviet bloc, strengthening ties with the United States, Western Europe, and Islamic nations. He pursued an agenda of Islamisation, amending the Constitution to emphasise Islamic solidarity among Muslim countries and introducing Islamic religious education as a compulsory subject for Muslim schoolchildren. Throughout his life, General Ziaur Rahman was a diehard opponent of India. With such notorious hatred towards India and also towards Hindus, General Zia founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to nurture anti-India and anti-Hindu sentiment in Bangladesh and gradually advance towards serving as a pseudo part of Pakistan.
In Article 25(2) of Bangladesh’s Constitution, military dictator Zia introduced the principle that “the state shall endeavour to consolidate, preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic solidarity”. Later, Zia introduced Islamic religious education as a compulsory subject for Muslim schoolchildren. At the birth of Bangladesh, many Islamists had supported the Pakistani Army’s fight against independence and been barred from politics with the Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order of 1972.
In public speeches and policies that he formulated, General Zia began expounding ultra-Islamist and anti-India “Bangladesh Nationalism” and emphasised the national role of Islam as a guide to the principle of life. He even amended the constitution to change the nationality of the citizens from Bengali, an ethnic identity, to Bangladeshi while Bangladeshi nationalism excluded the country’s non-Muslim minorities, particularly the Hindu community.
It is a matter of concern that there is active support for Islamist groups, including BNP, JeI, and Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI), by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and officials at the State Department. The US Ambassador in Dhaka, Peter D. Haas, has been associating with individuals who burn American flags and even threatening Bangladeshi media outlets with visa-related consequences to coerce them into promoting the agenda of these Islamist forces.
Bangladeshi Islamist Hamas-Hezbollah connections
It is essential to note that BNP and its Islamist partners have a history of harbouring anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Western sentiments. These Islamist groups have been on record for setting fire to the American flag and chanting slogans like “Death to America” or “We shall become Taliban, Bangla [Bangladesh] will be Afghan”.
In a deeply concerning move, during the 2001-2006 rule of the BNP-Jamaat coalition government, they even named a bridge ‘Hezbollah’ as a “mark of honour”, openly expressing their support for the Lebanese resistance group.
Radical Islam poses a continuous threat
Although the people of Bangladesh rejected the Islamist-jihadist conglomerate of BNP-JeI and voted a secularist Awami League into power through a landslide victory during the general election in December 2008, it became a herculean task for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government to check the rise of militancy and terrorism and eliminate the existence of training camps and hideouts of the anti-India separatist group – ULFA, while it also was a difficult task to fight jihadist outfits such as JMB, HuJI and later Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), which had formed alliance with Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
In July 2016 there was another jihadist attack in Bangladesh at Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka city’s Gulshan area. During this gruesome massacre, several foreign nationals, including locals were brutally murdered by the members of the Islamic State.
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, along with other officials from the State Department, seem to be extending support to Islamist factions in Bangladesh, including the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami
The recent manoeuvres by the Biden Administration could have a considerable impact on Bangladesh. Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, along with other officials from the State Department, seem to be extending support to Islamist factions in Bangladesh, including the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami. Peter D Haas, the US ambassador stationed in Dhaka, has allegedly been spotted socialising with figures who have articulated anti-American views.
Such conduct contravenes established diplomatic protocols and could conceivably result in the ousting of the US Embassy from Bangladesh. The Biden Administration’s strategy risks unsettling Bangladesh and creating an environment conducive for extremist entities to ascend to power. While this could potentially serve American objectives related to resource acquisition and geopolitical leverage, it imperils regional stability.
The Biden Administration’s backing of the BNP, a party designated as a Tier-3 terrorist organisation by the United States, has elicited concern from various sectors. Such endorsement could potentially metamorphose Bangladesh into a sanctuary for extremist ideologies.