After months denying the existence of transnational jihadist groups on its soil in the face of a violent campaign against secular and progressive forces, Bangladeshi authorities appear to have woken up to the reality of extremist militancy.
Following a series of knife and machete attacks, shootouts, and sectarian assaults usually directed against those criticizing Islamists prejudices and religious fanaticism, the Bangladeshi government initiated a countrywide crackdown on Islamist extremists on June 10. The search and sweep operations covered most of the hotspots of Islamic militancy, including the capital Dhaka, Chittagong, Bogra, Khulna, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Kushtia, Gaibandha, and Rajshahi. An unprecedented number of suspects engaged in criminal activities in the country were apprehended during the weeklong operation.
Among those arrested were at least 194 militants linked to outlawed local Islamist networks such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B), Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Hizb ut-Tahrir, and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT). The police also seized large amounts of firearms, explosives, machetes, motorbikes, and jihadi literature during the raids (BD News24.com, June 19).
Bangladesh’s Internal Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal underscored that to contain the violent attacks on secular individuals, free thinkers, and the country’s minorities (generally speaking, a reference to Hindus, Christians and Buddhists) there may be another round of crackdowns soon.
Full Text: Terrorism Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, Volume: 14 Issue: 13, June 24, 2016