Bangladesh is waking to a kind of terror it had never experienced before. Ergo, the mess-up in dealing the Holey Artisan hostage situation and the recent attacks on Police on Eid day.
The Awami League government led by Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina, the state police and the military have never faced such incidents of terror, where Bangladeshis have assaulted their ilk. As for the 40 massacres of Hindu and Buddhist priests, and the secular or atheist bloggers and activists, the violence was till recently treated as home-grown dissent and crime.
Surely, the murder of 40 people by Islamist machete-holding thugs in the past two years was a major indicator towards the rot that was spreading within the Muslim democratic country. It took a tragedy like the Holey Artisan bakery massacre to wake Bangladesh up from her deep slumber.
As sleuths and police officials were gaining pace on putting pieces of the Holey Artisan cafe, and finding ways to gap the intelligence hole, another ISIS video surfaced on the internet, where three Bangladeshi men warned the “democratic government” of Bangladesh about dire consequences and warned the state that such assaults on “kafirs” will only “repeat, repeat, repeat”. The video is claimed to be shot in al-Raqqah, the so-called capital of ISIS.
Repeating a pattern of the Holey Artisan attackers, the three men in the ISIS video are from affluent backgrounds. The first is a singer, the second an MBA and the third a dentist who was married to a model in Bangladesh.
Tahmid Rahman Shafi had worked for Grameen phone and was one of the top singers at the ‘Close Up 1’ contest Season 1 held in 1995. Shafi, who completed BBA at BRAC University and MBA at Institute of Business Administration (IBA), was the son of an election commissioner.
Tushar, who has been missing for around two years, is the son of a Bangladesh Army Major. Tawsif Hossain, the masked youth is a former student of IBA. Hossain was arrested earlier for his links with the banned Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
The pattern of the ISIS recruiting Bangladeshi youth is worrying. All the boys hail from families whose parents are either government officials or known businessmen. It can’t be a coincidence that their schools, colleges or universities are the same. There ought to be a way how ISIS propaganda reaches these prestigious institutes.
But Bangladesh is picking up, and learning its lessons slowly. It has launched a clampdown on social media sites spreading jihadist propaganda. The Bangladesh police issued a stern warning on Wednesday, a day before Eid, that anyone caught sharing jihadist propaganda online would be punished in the wake of the unprecedented attack in Dhaka.
Uploading, sharing, commenting or liking any video, images or speech in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in support of the Islamic State is now a punishable offence in Bangladesh. The head of the country’s elite security force appealed to Bangladeshis to report missing relatives.
India too should turn the glance inward to check young boys from falling into the ISIS trap. Religious bigots like the Islamist State thugs lurk in the corner to lure boys into jihad. In the age of internet, a minor heartbreak can mislead a youth into the lap of militants. We can’t let them pry away our children with the dream of providing ‘jannat’.