Bangladesh Jatiya Sangshad needs to discuss BNP’s Al Qaeda connection


A number of crucial issues, including Al Qaeda connection of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Britain’s granting immoral refuge to convicted terrorist Tarique Rahman as well as few other notorious cyberterrorists and a jihadist-terrorist need to be brought into discussion at the ongoing session of the Jatiya Sangshad (National Parliament) in Bangladesh.

Commenting on UK’s granting refuge to convicted terrorist Tarique Rahman, eminent journalist and research-scholar Adelle Nazarian, who recently penned an article in the Arab News on Bangladesh said:

Given the historical context, documented proof, and allegations of affiliations between the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and terrorist entities—like Jamaat-e-Islami—, as well as legal challenges facing Tarique Rahman—the son of BNP leader Khaleda Zia—for his assassination attempt against Sheikh Hasina, the morality of the United Kingdom hosting an individual with such a background can certainly be questioned. Hosting individuals linked to political violence or terrorism raises complex legal and ethical issues, particularly regarding international relations, human rights, and asylum laws.

It’s also important to remind the public of the BNP’s past actions, such as naming a bridge located in the southern part of the South Asian country, spanning the Batakhali River in an area known as Cox’s Bazaar, “Hezbollah Bridge” to honor Hezbollah. The bridge was renamed to “Hazrat Omar Farooq Bridge” in 2013 by the Awami League government. It’s also noteworthy that the BNP allegedly hosted Al Qaeda operatives including Ayman al-Zawahiri. This was first exposed by journalist and counterterrorism expert Alex Perry, who in a TIME article in 2002 exposed 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”… All these decisions highlight a pattern of behavior that raises concerns about endorsing individuals associated with such a party. Given these precedents, the UK’s decision to host Rahman involves balancing legal obligations against concerns about supporting or appearing to condone activities that undermine democratic processes and security.

In the Arab News article authors said, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the longest-serving female head of government in the world has placed Bangladesh into geopolitical significance.

Commenting on the magnanimous statesmanship of Sheikh Hasina, the Arab News article said, “During Hasina’s time in office as prime minister since 1996, Bangladesh has undergone an economic transformation deemed by international development experts to have been nothing short of miraculous”.

It further said:

Bangladesh’s geopolitical significance is on the rise, evidenced by its expanding strategic alliance with India and burgeoning economic ties with both China and the Arab world. The nation is also solidifying its position as the world’s second-largest exporter of ready-made garments, with the EU as its primary market. 

With the US and its allies vying with China for influence in the South China Sea and the broader Indo-Pacific region, Bangladesh’s geographical position is boosting a strategic significance emphasized by the development of a deep-water port in the Bay of Bengal, funded by Japan. This port not only bolsters Bangladesh’s maritime capabilities, but also serves as a crucial link between South and Southeast Asia, enhancing Bangladesh’s role as a pivotal player in regional connectivity and as a potential fulcrum in the balance which claimed it did not trust the process or the impartiality of the Election Commission, decided to boycott the election and, accordingly, did not field any candidates.

Yet, despite the boycott, voter turnout was a respectable 40 percent, and the overwhelming consensus of election observers from over 40 countries, including from the Arab Parliament and Organization of Islamic Cooperation, was that the Election Commission had delivered a transparent voting process.

China and India immediately congratulated Hasina on her reelection and endorsed the legitimacy of the poll — the two countries also happen to be major sources of funding for multiple infrastructure megaprojects that have become the hallmarks of Hasina’s administration.

Commenting on Washington’s baseless claim stating January 7 elections were not free and fair, the Arab News said:

China’s ambassador to Dhaka presented the prime minister with a replica of a traditional Bengali fishing boat the electoral symbol of her Awami League party, and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, who has built a close working relationship with Hasina, remarked that India was “committed to further strengthen our enduring and people-centric partnership with Bangladesh.

Russia, which is providing funding for Bangladesh’s only nuclear power plant, currently under construction, also congratulated the prime minister.

In stark contrast, the US Department of State declared that “the United States shares the view with other observers that these elections were not free or fair, and we regret that not all parties participated”. Furthermore, Us President Joe Biden’s administration also passed limited sanctions on Bangladesh, and accused some in Hasina’s administration of “undermining the democratic election process”.

The Biden administration is facing renewed criticism that it is making a major foreign policy mistake when it comes to a South Asian country that has emerged in recent years as a formidable economic force with ambitious aspirations.

Many Bangladeshi officials believe Washington is unfairly singling out Bangladesh, despite the election having passed off without serious violence or interference in the Election Commission’s neutrality.

On Bangladesh’s commendable economic progress under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Oubai Shahbandar and Adelle Nazarian wrote:

According to independent economic data, Bangladesh is on course to become an upper middle-income country (the criteria requiring at least $4,000 GDP per capita) by 2031. Bangladesh, once labeled a “basket case” by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, has roared back in the past 15 years as Hasina, the Muslim world’s only female leader, has embarked on a massive economic development program that has been hailed by development experts worldwide as a model for how developing countries can sustainably lift millions out of poverty.

Today, the World Bank officially recognizes Bangladesh as one of the fastest-growing economies in South Asia Experts also cite secular social changes pushed by Hasina as an important driver of Bangladesh’s economic transformation. Recently, she unveiled an ambitious development strategy and vision for the country called “Smart Bangladesh,” aimed at achieving broad-based national progress by 2041.

On assassination attempts on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Arab News article said: “Hasina’s transformation of Bangladesh has not been achieved without personal cost. She has survived at least 19 assassination attempts, and her administration has faced numerous terrorist attacks while cracking down on extremist ideologies, and taking action against a broad network that supports and propagates terror”.

Expectations from the members of Bangladesh Parliament

The issues related to Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s proven record of connections with Al Qaeda and Lebanese Hezbollah as well as BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman’s direct involvement in terrorist acts, including August 21, 2004 grenade attacks and cross-border terrorism (10-trucks arms haul) need to be prominently discussed in the parliament and a resolution in this regard calling upon the United Kingdom to extradite Tarique and other elements, who are using the UK soil in running terrorist acts.

Independent MPs in the parliament, especially Barrister Syed Sayedul Haque Suman should take these issue into serious consideration and raise in the parliament with the demand of proper investigation into the case of BNP’s connections with Al Qaeda and Hezbollah as well as other terrorist groups, as for the sake of national and regional security BNP needs to come under strict scrutiny, while Bangladesh authorities also need to actively pursue the case of getting convicted-terrorist Tarique Rahman along with others extradited from the United kingdom.


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