Thursday, September 08, 2011

U.S. foiled Islamic terrorist mainstreaming in Bangladesh politics: Wikileaks

SALEEM SAMAD

THE UNITED States in the autumn of 2008 frustrated the Bangladesh security agency's attempted mainstreaming of an Islamic terrorist outfit into politics, according to diplomatic cables released by the whistleblowing website Wikileaks.

Bangladesh spy agency Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) had actively and covertly become a patron for the development of Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), a terrorist-labeled Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B) with leaders from high command, according to the documents. HuJI-B is banned in Bangladesh and also listed as a terrorist organization with the U.S. government.

The diplomatic cables between the U.S. and Bangladesh say the U.S. embassy in Dhaka strongly opposed the creation of the IDP. The newly emerged political outfit may respond with violence possibly against the U.S. mission or its interests.

DGFI, the spy agency, supported the formation of the IDP as a way to bring HuJI-B into the mainstream in a bid to tightly monitor the group’s activities, which the U.S. diplomats felt threatening.

HuJI has never renounced the use of violence to implement its vision of transforming Bangladesh into a Muslim theocracy and implement Islamic Sharia.

Brigadier General ATM Amin, director of DGFI, assured U.S. Ambassador James F. Moriarty in the documents that IDP would never react violently and would not attempt to conduct an attack against the U.S. official presence in Dhaka. This intelligence note was contradicted by the security agency National Security Intelligence (NSI) and passed on to the U.S. embassy here, says Wikileaks.

It is difficult to determine the number of members and recruits and their ability to strike terror in Bangladesh. The terrorist outfit openly articulated its anti-Western and anti-India policy.

Since the government of pro-secular Sheikh Hasina took power two and a half years ago, the anti-terror units have broken the backbone of HuJI-B. The kingpins of terrorist organizations have been imprisoned and their hideouts busted.

Other cables said an anti-terror unit assessed that the HuJI-B would not respond with violence due to the severe degradation of the group’s capability and leadership structure from arrests and active surveillance.

It could not be ascertained whether the U.S. government is confident in Bangladesh authorities' assurance of the significant reduction of threats of terrorism.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com