Bangladesh Scenario for Counter Terrorism

Bangladesh denounces terrorism in all its forms and manifestation. Bangladeshi media has already shown its strong commitment against terrorism. Much of it was done through investigative reporting which helped to create awareness among the policymakers and to shape public opinion conducive to the government’s counterterrorism efforts.

But, the media itself is not immune from the threats coming from the terror groups. For example, a few weeks back the National Press Club of Bangladesh was threatened by a terrorist group. They said that they would blow up the NPC building. Similar threats were given to some other press clubs in other districts where journalists are writing against terrorism. It is understandable that terrorists are being ideologically confronted by Bangladesh media. Let us have a look at Bangladesh’s terror scenario.

Bangladesh is situated in South Asia, one of the critical regions or security complexes in the world. The current security landscape of the region is marked by diversity of conflict, a sharp rise of terrorism and political violence with a significant destabilizing effect on the regional states and their economies. In the last few years there has been a decline in the number of terrorist incidents due to the strict vigilance of the law enforcement agencies.

Terrorism in South Asia has regional characteristics. Unlike the Middle East, contemporary South Asian terrorism is a by-product of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment. Though history and politics have contributed much in creating a congenial space for extremist ideologies to thrive, economic and sociological factors cannot be underestimated. South Asia’s case can be best understood through a holistic analysis.

In South Asian history jihadas an ethical struggle is very old, it dates back to the days of anti-colonial movement when the Indian subcontinent was under British rule. But transnational networks emerged in the 1980s during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. When the “Afghanistan jihad”ended in 1988, the foreign mujahideens returned home and opened up jihadioutlets using the skills, resources and connections developed in the Afghan front. In the last two decades such outlets grew often in political patronage capitalizing poverty and underdevelopment and at the same time utilizing corruption and lacuna in governance.

The vulnerability of regional states is severe considering the expansionary trend of transnational terrorism, lack of a comprehensive response and a regional approach. In South Asia violent extremism has long been seen exclusively as a national security issue, action oriented regional and international cooperation in this regard has been very limited. But the fight against international terrorism is a wide-ranging effort requiring regional and multilateral cooperation.

Frequent acts of terror in the name of religion, nationalism and ideology have undermined global security and economy. While specific groups have used terror and extremism to drive a wedge between the Western and Muslim countries, acts of terror also continue to undermine human security in other countries.

Terrorism in South Asia has some regional characteristics. For example, incidents of suicide attacks were low in comparison to the Middle East. But in recent times the number of such incidents is growing in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The threat groups in Bangladesh do not seem to prefer suicide attacks as a tactic. In many cases they carried out low intensity attacks and depended on hand-made bombs. Some of the terrorist groups also used grenades in their attacks on political gatherings. A number of terrorists were caught with grenades and firearms in their possession.

With a rich and secular cultural heritage and moderate mindset of the Muslim majority, Bangladesh is the most congenial space for counter terrorism in South Asia. With continued support Bangladesh can play a leadership role in South Asia and thus contribute to the global security. There is an urgent need to set up a regional counter terrorism study group, which will open up a space for quicker identification of the problems and facilitate innovation in counter terrorism, effectively addressing local needs.

Increase of extremist ideological, motivational and propaganda ability is something that Bangladesh media is going to face in the future. As we are keeping ourselves focused exclusively on the surface of terrorism, the roots are remaining undisturbed and spreading at a dangerous pace. The radical ideologies are being conveyed and spread by radicalization and this is affecting South Asia’s security in the long term. It has been found that most of the terrorists have been enshrined into radical ideology at some point of time.

Bangladesh media should be utilized to build a societal norm and ethic against politically motivated violence and extremism. Despite threats and attacks on media by religion-based fundamentalist groups, journalists in Bangladesh have been continuing their campaign against terrorism, which is getting appreciation from the people and the government. In this regard, it is important to give media personnel adequate training and insight so that they can work as a catalyst for a peaceful and safe society.

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