On Sunday morning (October 4, 2015) Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said to the assembled press, “Until now, IS or global terror groups like it have not been able to operate in Bangladesh. Our intelligence agencies are active … we will not allow any such activities in Bangladesh.”
This is in the face of calculated and organized shooting murders of two innocent foreigners (one Italian and one Japanese) working in the development sectors in Bangladesh. She also forgot that the Australian Cricket team cancelled their test tours to Bangladesh citing security concerns.
Dear Prime Minister, just because you say IS does not exist does not make it so. Every time you and the country is faced with some adversity or challenge your reaction seems to be deny, deny, deny.
That was the case with the Padma Bridge scandal, the Rana Plaza collapse, and the sheer thievery in the Dhaka Mayoral elections. The list can go on and on. By denying an obvious fact all you and your cohorts do is tarnish the image of Bangladesh on the world stage.
People think this country is on par with Saudi Arabia when it comes to truth-telling and transparency. There is a running joke that goes like this, “When do you know when a Saudi is lying? Every time his mouth is open”.
I hope Bangladesh does not go down that rabbit hole. You have accomplished so much and yet you are unable and/or unwilling to accept that bad things happen and that evil exists. Acknowledging and confronting bad things and adversity is actually a sign of strength and not one of weakness.
I did not start this rant with a mind to scold the Prime Minister but it just came out. What we all need to understand is that IS is not just a few guys chopping people’s heads off or shooting hapless and unsuspecting human beings.
It is an ideology and it has existed in some form or other for many centuries. For lack of a better definition, let us say that IS is built around the “End of Time” philosophy or as the Arabs would call it “crack of doom”, الكراكمنالعذاب.
The crack of doom has a big mythology surrounding it. The stories and myths have been passed down the years in story-telling from mother to child. I remember my mother and my grandmother used tell me about how there will be a big war between the Believers and the Infidels.
The Infidels will almost win the war after a bloody war lasting tens of years. However, at the very moment of defeat Mahdi will appear and God will destroy the earth. Then there will be the Judgement day. All sorts of blood-curdling things will happen and then God will decide who goes to heaven and who will be condemned to eternal damnation.
The End Time Philosophy is quite similar to the Christian End Times. They also have a huge battle of Armageddon and the Messiah coming to save the world by destroying it first. Armageddon is a physical place in Israel. I have been to the little town of Megiddo (Armageddon means Hills of Megiddo) which is just an ordinary town near the Sea of Galilee.
The Islamic End Time is also associated with a physical place. A little village in Northern Syria named Dabiq will be the supposed place for the End time War and Judgement. IS never misses the symbolism and the propaganda value. The main IS recruiting tool is an Internet magazine called Dabiq. Go figure!
Why the history dribble, you ask? I say, it is important to understand and recognize what we are fighting.
Dear Prime Minister, the strain of IS philosophy has been in our consciousness for eons. There has always been mullahs and militants who exploited the myth-ridden minds of the people. Due to the invasion of Iraq by the Cowboy President Bush, we have completely destabilized the Middle East.
The States that kept all the crackpots in check (yes, Saddam and Assad) no longer exist. So, we have the Islamic State which is singing the Siren songs to millions of people who are already infected by the idea of End Times and ready to sacrifice their lives.
Yes, IS does exist in Bangladesh, protestations by the Honorable Prime Minister notwithstanding. We have to have a serious way to deal with a serious problem. We cannot hide our heads in the sand and hope it will go away. The recent murders of the foreigners and the subsequent claims show that IS is pursuing a strategy of creating fear and loathing in Bangladesh by going after the softest targets possible.
There is no doubt that these murders and the murders of the bloggers are part of a larger plan to destabilize Bangladesh. I know the Prime Minster wants to besmirch her archenemy Khaleda Zia. However, the enemy is far bigger than the opposition leader. Misidentifying the enemy will simply divert the precious resources that we must use to combat an enemy far more lethal than anything we have seen since the days of the Third Reich.
Underestimating IS can be lethal to millions of people. Obama’s identifying the IS as a Junior Varsity team of Al Qaeda is a glaring example. That wrong diagnosis has resulted in 250,000 deaths in Syria, some 750,000 refugees to Europe. Because of that horrible miscalculation by our President Obama, the world is on the brink of an unimaginable bloodbath with Russia, US, NATO, Iran, Israel, and the Wahhabis in a big vat of Khichuri.
We cannot want the same fate for Bangladesh.
Mufti Jasim Uddin Rahmani (I am not sure how he confiscated the title of Mufti) has been in prison since 2013, but still exerts enormous influence. He says the Muslims have a religious obligation to find named bloggers and kill them. The result has been the murders of Avijit and many others. Ansar Bangla is not an aspirational bubble but hardcore operational entity that has trained killers who may be gullible, but killers nevertheless.
Denying they exist simply assures they will grow unchallenged and will eventually derail the current trajectory to prosperity for Bangladesh.
We need to take on IS in Bangladesh (Ansar Bangla or any other name) both in the physical sense using our best operational unit with hard edges (yes, bullets and jails) as well as in an ideological struggle.
These people are Takfiris without any care about the obligations that Takfir brings. They obviously are simply ignoring the fact that to call someone an apostate without real proof and certified by the Ulema, the Takifiri himself invites the death penalty. The Prime Minister needs to seek the help of the Ulema in Bangladesh denouncing the IS related Takfiris.
Since they do not accept the legal authority of the temporal world, maybe they would accept the death penalty for being a false Takfiri.
In order to combat this mortal enemy we need stop playing politics and focus on the clear and present danger that the false Takfiris present. Honorable Prime Minister the first step in this arduous task is to acknowledge and identify the enemy. The remedy will follow.
Kayes Ahmed is a businessman running multi-national operations from Colorado, USA.