Al Qaeda wants Bangladesh to be its next safe haven

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Global terrorist outfit Al Qaeda is advancing its goal of turning Bangladesh into its next safe heaven by intensifying its activities both within the country and through its operatives in the West. For expediting Al Qaeda’s dangerous goal, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which has been maintaining connections with Al Qaeda for decades has already mobilized its cyber-activists along side representatives in creating ground for this global terrorist outfit’s takeover of Bangladesh, while BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman, who has been living in the United Kingdom as asylum-seeker since 2007 has been making frantic bids in destabilizing Bangladesh’s law-and-order situation – topple Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and turn the country into an Al Qaeda-backed neo-Taliban state, while cyber activists of his party are currently intensifying “India Out” plot xeroxing that of Maldives, with the target of inciting anti-India and anti-Hindu sentiment in Bangladesh.

It may be mentioned here that Bangladesh, the third-largest Muslim country in the world is at the crossroad, with its recently held January 7, 2024 general election being capitalized by the Biden administration through attempts of terming it as “flawed” and “rigged”. Behind such attempts, BNP’s lobbyist Hunter Biden is reportedly playing a key role, while this pro-Al Qaeda party’s lobbyists in Washington DC as well as its ally – controversial Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus are pushing-forward the same agenda of BNP with the common agenda of unseating Awami League government – which enjoys support from India, China and Russia. For more than two years,

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which is termed as ‘Tier-III Terrorist Organization’ by a number of US courts and its ideological allies such as Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and pro-Caliphate Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI) are getting exposed sympathy of the Biden administration.

Following the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, many Afghans who had supported and collaborated with US forces were left in a vulnerable position, targeted by extremist groups. Now, Biden is making a similar mistake in Bangladesh, a South Asian country, by seemingly supporting Islamist forces with a long history of anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Western sentiments, where these Islamist bigots were on-record setting fire on American flag and chanted slogans such as – “Death to America” or “We shall become Taliban, Bangla [Bangladesh] will be Afghan”.

During the 2001-2006 rule of the coalition government of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), there were several incidents in Bangladesh where American flags were burnt by protesters. These protests were often triggered by various factors, including political developments, international events, and public sentiment.

Biden administration disturbing diplomacy have raised concerns about the long-standing relationship between the United States and Bangladesh, potentially jeopardizing the 51-year history of cooperation between the two nations. Since the US recognized the newly-independent Bangladesh in 1971 after its victory over Pakistani occupation forces, the relationship had been marked by cordial cooperation and significant development partnership. However, this positive trajectory now seems to be taking a troubling turn due to President Biden’s diplomatic approach.

In recent years, the Biden administration has claimed to uphold democracy but has shown hostility towards Bangladesh’s ruling secularist Awami League government while seemingly collaborating with the ultra-Islamist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its jihadist allies, including Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI).

It is essential to note that BNP and its Islamist partners have a history of harboring anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Western sentiments. These Islamist groups have been on record for setting fire to the American flag and chanting slogans like “Death to America” or “We shall become Taliban, Bangla [Bangladesh] will be Afghan”.

In a deeply concerning move, during the 2001-2006 rule of the BNP-Jamaat coalition government, they even named a bridge ‘Hezbollah’ as a “mark of honor”, openly expressing their support for the Lebanese resistance group, Hezbollah, which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization. BNP-Jamaat coalition government’s junior communications minister Salahuddin Ahmed told French news agency AFP, “I named the bridge Hezbollah because of our love for the Lebanese resistance group. Hezbollah is the only group which is fighting Israel and the bridge is named after the group as a mark of honor”.

The then Foreign Minister Morshed Khan went as far as to label Israel’s actions as “state terrorism” and “religious terrorism” while accusing the United States of sponsoring it.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami consider Jews and Israel as “enemy” – support “elimination of the Jewish State from the world map”, while they recognize Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas as “ideological allies”.

Biden’s recent actions in Bangladesh could have dire consequences, potentially turning the country into a neo-Taliban state. Following the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, many Afghans who had supported the US found themselves vulnerable and targeted by extremist groups. Unfortunately, it appears that a similar mistake is being made in Bangladesh, with President Biden seemingly aligning with forces known for their vehement anti-American sentiments.

Of further concern is the active support for Islamist groups, including BNP, JeI, and Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI), by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and officials at the State Department. The US ambassador in Dhaka, Peter D. Haas, has been observed associating with individuals who burn American flags and even threatening Bangladeshi media outlets with visa-related consequences to coerce them into promoting the agenda of these Islamist forces.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s hosting Al Qaeda group including Ayman al-Zawahiri was first exposed by eminent journalist and counterterrorism expert Alex Perry, who in a TIME magazine article on April 14, 2002 had revealed Al Qaeda kingpin al-Zawahiri and other members of the terrorist group’s arrival and stay in Bangladesh.

According to him, on December 21, 2001 “five motor launches ferry in large groups of men from the boat wearing black turbans, long beards and traditional Islamic salwar kameez. Their towering height suggested these travelers were foreigners, and the boxes of ammunition and the AK-47s slung across their shoulders helped sketch a sinister picture”.

A senior member of Bangladesh’s largest terrorist group, the 2,000-strong al-Qaeda-allied Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), told TIME the 150 men who entered Bangladesh that night were Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan. Three senior Bangladeshi military sources also confirmed this case to TIME magazine.

Alex Perry further wrote: “The arrival of a large al-Qaeda group in the capital Dhaka that night raises pressing concerns that Bangladesh may have become a dangerous new front in America’s war on terror. Indeed, one Bangladeshi newspaper last month even quoted an unnamed foreign embassy in Dhaka as saying Osama bin Laden’s No. 2, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, had been hiding out in the country for months after arriving in Chittagong. (Last week, in an audio message that authorities have tentatively authenticated, al-Zawahiri warned of further attacks against the US, vowing that it will not go “unpunished for its crimes”). According to a source inside a Bangladeshi Islamic group with close ties to al-Qaeda, al-Zawahiri arrived in Dhaka in early March and stayed briefly in the compound of a local fundamentalist leader. It’s unclear how al-Zawahiri came to be in Bangladesh, or whether he’s still there. However, a source in the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), a Bangladeshi military intelligence agency, told TIME that al-Zawahiri is believed to have left Bangladesh this summer, crossing over the eastern border into Burma with Rohingya rebels…

According to a source, Al-Zawahiri even visited Dhaka and met several leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party while at the instruction of some influential figures of the party Zawahiri was housed at a high-secured property at Dhaka’s Gulshan area, which is owned by an intelligence agency. During his stay in Dhaka, Zawahiri had meetings with Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a war-criminal and asset of Pakistani spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), while Brig Gen Abdur Rahim, then Director General of the National Security Intelligence (NSI) has carried a fruit basket, kebabs and bread on behalf of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rahman.

Following publication of Alex Perry’s article, journalist Bertil Lintner in another article in South Asia Terrorism Portal wrote: “…While Bangladesh is yet far from becoming another Pakistan, Islamist forces are no doubt on the rise, and extremist influence is growing, especially in the countryside. According to a foreign diplomat in Dhaka, “In the 1960s and 1970s, it was the leftists who were seen as incorruptible purists. Today, the role model for many young men in rural areas is the dedicated Islamic cleric with his skull cap, flowing robes and beard”.

BNP’s India Out movement

Following ‘India Out’ movement in Maldives and signs of similar activities in Nepal, ultra-Islamist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has launched it clearly with the aim of giving oxygen to anti-India and Islamist sentiment, which they party may finally use in mobilizing masses against ruling Awami League and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Meanwhile, cyber activists of BNP and anti-India elements are intensifying ‘India Out’ propaganda on social media, while it has also been joined by the Bangladesh representative of Al Jazeera – the Qatari broadcast network which has been extremely hostile towards Sheikh Hasina and ger government.

Supporting ‘India Out’ movement of BNP, in a post on ‘X’ platform, Al Jazeera’s Bangladesh has shared an anti-India video tagging an Islamist propagandist named Pinaki Bhattacharya, who converted into Islam and fled Bangladesh when authorities pressed charges of producing counterfeit medicine and amphetamine inside his pharmaceutical factory.

According to an Indian website, sitting in France as an asylum-seeker, a self-proclaimed cyber activist Pinaki Bhattacharya is anti-Hindu and anti-India extremist. He has been regularly publishing contents defaming Hindu religion. It said, Pinaki became popular amongst radical Muslims and anti-India and anti-Hindu bloc in Bangladesh for his jihadist and anti-India publications. He persuaded Bangladeshi Muslims to wage jihad against the Hindus and join jihadist forces in Jammu and Kashmir in India.

Dozens of cyber activists of BNP and Jamaat are pushing-forward ‘India Out’ propaganda on social media platforms, while some of them are also calling for boycotting Indian products in Bangladesh.

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