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Bangladeshi migrant workers detained in Singapore

11 May 2016

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Eight members of ‘Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB)’, an organization formed by Bangladeshi migrant workers in Singapore were detained for planning terror attacks back home. They have been detained under Internal Security Act of Singapore, according to information released by Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs on May 3.

It is learnt that these militants intended to join terror group ISIS as foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. But as it was difficult to travel to the Middle East, they focused on returning to Bangladesh with the mission to topple the democratically elected government through violent means, set up an Islamic state and bring it under the self-declared caliphate of ISIS.

 

ISB had identified several possible targets in Bangladesh including Members of Parliament, Ministers, media personnel, security and police personnel as well as ‘disbelievers’, according to a ISB ‘kill-list’ released on the web site.
In a document titled “We Need for Jihad Fight” recovered from Rahman Mizanur, one of the eight detainees, the group listed ‘military targets’ such as Border Guard Bangladesh, Navy and Air Force and the Rapid Action Battalion. Rahman also possessed documents on weapons and bomb making as well as significant amount of radical materials which he used to indoctrinate and recruit ISB members in Singapore.

 

The ISB members were on a mission to recruit other Bangladeshi nationals working in Singapore to strengthen their organization.  They had raised funds to purchase arms for carrying out terror attacks on their listed targets in Bangladesh.  The money was seized by the security forces in Singapore when they were detained. The Strait Times reported that they were detained on April 28 in the first ISA detentions involving a terror cell of foreign workers.

 

 ISB had identified several possible targets in Bangladesh including Members of Parliament, Ministers, media personnel, security and police personnel as well as ‘disbelievers’, according to a ISB ‘kill-list’ released on the web site.

 

In another development, five Bangladeshi migrant workers were deported from Singapore for their militancy links and they have been arrested on May 3 in Dhaka.

 

Earlier, Singapore deported 26 Bangladeshi Muslim migrant workers on January 20 for supporting the ideology of Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda and IS. The authorities in Singapore said these men were contemplating “armed jihad” in the Middle East and Bangladesh.

 

Now the question that arises is how to deal with the menace that has now become a global phenomenon. Recent attacks on France and Belgium suggest that curbing religious militancy is not at all an easy task. The problem in Bangladesh is more complicated as the country has a huge number of Madrassa students who are soft targets for the recruiters.

The Middle East-based IS which recently tormented Paris by gun and bomb attacks that killed over 100 people, announced that it has found a regional commander in Bangladesh. An article titled “The Revival of Jihad in Bengal”, published in November 2015 issue of the IS mouthpiece Dabiq, signaled for the first time the militant organization’s designs on Bangladesh and said it had named a regional leader in the country. The name, however, has not been disclosed.

 

It would be a mistake to believe that the militants are regrouping in Singapore alone. There are many other places in the Middle East and Europe where the Bangladeshi nationals working abroad regularly meet and organize themselves in pursuit of their objective of establishing Islamic rule in Bangladesh.

 

The Middle East-based IS which recently tormented Paris by gun and bomb attacks that killed over 100 people, announced that it has found a regional commander in Bangladesh. An article titled “The Revival of Jihad in Bengal”, published in November 2015 issue of the IS mouthpiece Dabiq, signaled for the first time the militant organization’s designs on Bangladesh and said it had named a regional leader in the country. The name, however, has not been disclosed.

 

Although al Qaeda or IS does not work in Bangladesh directly, there are militant organizations in the country who are followers of al Qaeda and IS ideology and inspired by the call for Jihad these militant organizations may commit big subversive activities in Bangladesh. Ideologies of Jamaat, IS being the same, it is easy for IS to recruit Bangladeshi youths already fanaticized   by Jamaat.

 

Islamist militants in Bangladesh are actively supported by radical organizations from other countries. Necessary steps need to be taken to stop infiltration of militants from other countries and, at the same time, halt the process of radicalization of Bangladeshi youth, particularly the Madrassa educated segment.

 

Bangladesh has recently witnessed a surge in militant violence in which atheist bloggers, academics, religious minorities and foreign aid workers have been killed. In the last month alone, five people were killed in the country by Islamist militants. Jamaat-e-Islami, fountain-head of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh, is suspected to be behind the spurt in Islam-linked violent activities.

 

The government will need to ensure that threats to Bangladesh’s security, economic development and international standing are eliminated before they can take roots. Bangladesh has already reached new heights of development in sectors like economy, infrastructure and agriculture, but rising militancy will thwart the progress.




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