Terrorism is in the DNA of Bangladesh Nationalist Party


As Bangladesh approaches its upcoming general election scheduled for the next few weeks, certain Western policymakers are extending their support to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), an Islamist organization founded by military dictator General Ziaur Rahman. However, it’s imperative to be aware of the troubling history of General Zia, who sent numerous Bangladeshi nationals to Palestine between 1976 and 1981 with the purpose of targeting Jews and Israelis.

While various US courts have classified the Bangladesh Nationalist Party as a Tier-III terrorist organization over recent years, it is important to recognize that terrorism and militancy are deeply embedded within the fabric of this ultra-Islamist party.

Regrettably, in recent times, a number of Western politicians and policymakers, including members of the Biden administration, have been actively working to undermine the secularist government in Bangladesh. Their unsettling agenda involves promoting the rise of the BNP and its Islamist associates, such as Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI), with the intention of transforming the nation into a neo-Taliban state.

Bangladeshis sent by General Zia in 1982 to fight against Israel and Jews.

Before Bangladesh gained its independence, a significant number of individuals from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) were dispatched by Islamabad to participate in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

After the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the military dictator General Ziaur Rahman assumed power and took a personal interest in sending thousands of Bangladeshis to Palestine to combat Jews and Israelis.

During his rule, a postage stamp was even issued in 1980, depicting a Palestinian freedom fighter alongside the Al-Aqsa mosque surrounded by barbed wire. The stamp praised Palestinian fighters as “valiant” in both English and Arabic. General Zia also welcomed Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat to Bangladesh multiple times.

According to a September 1988 report from the US Library of Congress, the Bangladeshi government reported in 1987 that 8,000 Bangladeshi youths volunteered to fight for the PLO following Arafat’s visits. However, the actual number is believed to be much higher.

Starting from the 1980s, a military connection emerged between the PLO and Bangladesh under the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. PLO soldiers attended year-long courses at the Bangladesh Military Academy in Chittagong.

From 1976 to 1990, military dictators General Ziaur Rahman and Hussain Muhammed Ershad dispatched thousands of Bangladesh nationalists to Palestine and Afghanistan to combat Israel and the Soviet Union. General Zia, in particular, exhibited strong anti-Semitic sentiments and provided cash incentives to encourage Bangladeshis to participate in anti-Israel activities and target Jews and Israelis.

Military dictator General Zia with PLO leader Yasser Arafat

Upon their return from Palestine and Afghanistan, these individuals established the “Organization of Repatriated Soldiers of Palestine and Afghanistan” (ORSPA). This organization received financial support from the regimes of General Zia and Ershad.

Within a few years, key leaders of ORSPA, under the influence of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, established the Bangladesh chapter of a militant group named Harkat ul Jihad (HuJI). Subsequent militant organizations such as Jamaat-ul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) and Ansar Al Islam (AAI) originated from ORSPA. In essence, military dictator General Ziaur Rahman can be identified as the pioneer of militancy in Bangladesh, a legacy continued by his successor, General Hussain Muhammad Ershad.

General Zia founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) with the primary objective of transforming secularist Bangladesh into an Islamic republic and fostering militancy. This included the agenda of sowing the seeds of terrorism and militancy in various parts of India, notably West Bengal and the northeastern states. He also supported separatist factions within India. When Zia’s widow, Khaleda Zia, assumed power in 1991, she diligently pursued her husband’s objectives of Islamizing Bangladesh and causing instability in India.

In a 2007 Reuters article, Simon Denyer highlighted the vulnerability of India to Muslim militants due to its challenging geopolitical environment and lack of robust domestic measures. Denyer pointed out that Islamist militant groups based in Bangladesh or Pakistan, using Indian Muslims, were held responsible for attacks in India. This explanation, while disputed by both Bangladesh and Pakistan, carried some credibility.

The chief suspect in these attacks was Shahid Bilal of the Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HuJI), a Bangladeshi group originally formed during the Afghan resistance to Soviet occupation. This group collaborated with Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba and exploited Bangladesh’s porous border with India for militant activities.

Designated as a foreign terrorist group by the US Department of State, Harkat ul Jihad (HuJI) continues to pose threats in the region.

During the leadership of military dictator General Ziaur Rahman and subsequently under his widow Khaleda Zia’s tenure, the BNP pursued an agenda that extended beyond Bangladesh’s borders. The party sought to promote separatist movements and sow the seeds of instability in India, particularly in regions like West Bengal and the northeastern states.

Under General Zia’s leadership, the BNP aimed to transform Bangladesh into an Islamic republic, and this ideology was accompanied by an active endorsement of militancy. This included supporting and funding groups that sought to undermine the stability of neighboring India through acts of terrorism and insurgency.

The BNP’s support for such activities contributed to fostering an environment of hostility and insecurity in India’s bordering regions. The party’s influence extended to collaborating with groups like Harkat ul Jihad (HuJI), which had a record of participating in violent activities in India.

This aggressive posture of patronizing insurgency and militancy in India underscores the BNP’s larger agenda of advancing political Islam and undermining the secular foundations of both Bangladesh and its neighboring countries.

It is crucial to understand the BNP’s history of involvement in supporting insurgency and militancy within India to fully appreciate the extent of the party’s ideological and operational reach beyond its own borders.

Although the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has managed to sway certain Western policymakers with claims of upholding democracy, human rights, rule of law, and freedom of expression, it is imperative to recognize the party’s true agenda. The BNP is dedicated to the Islamization of Bangladesh and the promotion of terrorism and militancy, as terrorism and militancy are in BNP’s DNA.

It is important for Western policymakers to discern the reality of the BNP’s intentions and not be misled by the propaganda disseminated by its advocates, such as William B Milam and Jon Danilowicz, among others. Those who support the BNP must understand that the party not only advocates for political Islam and militancy but also harbors dangerous hostility toward Jews, Christians, Hindus, and non-Muslims.


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