Rohingya camps turning into hub of international terrorism thus posing serious security threat to the region

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Arakan Rohingya National Organization, ARSA, ARNO, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, Rohingya Solidarity Organization, RSO, Tablighi Jamaat, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic State, Rohingya, Myanmar

Rohingya camps in Bangladesh sheltering over 1.20 million Rohingyas who fled genocide in 2017 are posing serious threat to regional and global security as according to numerous sources international terrorist outfits including Al Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIS), Hezbollah, Hamas, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb Ut Tahrir, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and others are already infiltrating within the camps, thus recruiting many as towards terrorist and jihadist plots. It may be mentioned here that, majority of Rohingyas from Myanmar are Muslims – most of whom have a heavily radicalized mindset with alarming signs of their hatred towards non-Muslims and almost openly expressing solidarity towards international terrorist outfits. A large segment of these Rohingyas also are – directly or indirectly involved in drug peddling, arms trafficking, as well as they are connected to transnational human trafficking and prostitution rackets.

One of the most alarming information which deserves immediate attention of security agencies in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries in the region is – highly-radicalized Rohingyas are succeeding in freely travelling to various countries by joining Tablighi Jamaat (TJ).

Officials of law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh have been consistently saying, radical Islamic militancy outfit Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) is involved in murders, abduction and other forms of criminal activities, while members of this outfit regularly enter Bangladesh from Myanmar and commit series of crimes and they also run drug peddling, arms trafficking, human trafficking and kidnapping, recently Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters, Rohingya camps in Bangladesh may become hub of international terrorists. He said, “There may be an influx of arms. Many things can happen. And we already see some sings of these”.

He said, unrest may occur in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh if Rohingyas are not repatriated soon.

According to the minister, some of those people who are fighting against Myanmar junta are also seen inside Rohingya camps in Bangladesh.

Asaduzzaman Khan said, “The biggest fear is that drugs have been coming in from Myanmar for a long time although our country does not produce any drugs. Some people in the camps here got involved in drugs”.

The Diplomat in an article said, ARSA, formerly known as Al-Yaqin, is not only killing people in the camps but is also accused of rape, extorting money from Rohingya to buy weapons, forcing Rohingya to join ARSA, and human trafficking. ARSA’s name comes up first in cases of smuggling and gun fights with opposing militant groups. ARSA has become a name of terror for the Rohingya in the camp. It particularly seems to target Rohingya working for eventual repatriation to Myanmar.

Aung Kyaw Moe, an adviser on human rights for the civilian National Unity Government, told The Diplomat, ARSA is actually in collaboration with sections of the Myanmar military, and he insists that both the Myanmar Army and ARSA need to be held accountable. “Those who committed genocide against the Rohingya and those who associate with the Myanmar Army in carrying out the genocide against the Rohingya have to face justice as criminals. They will be brought to justice with the cooperation of the international community. We will not spare ARSA; they must also face justice because they are killing my Rohingya brothers, creating unrest in the camp”.

Media reports claim ARSA is not the only armed group seeking to dominate the refugee camps. ARSA and Islamic Mahad, another Rohingya armed group, have allegedly had gunfights several times in the camps. Some Rohingya families living in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates as well as several EU nations help ARSA and Islamic Mahad with financial support and weapons. The top leader of Islamic Mahad claimed that Libyan militant organizations trained the group.

As a counterterrorism researcher, for the last several years, I have been writing extensively in local and international media exposing the notorious agenda of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) – a jihadist outfit of Rohingyas.

According to statistics, there are over one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh who were driven out from Myanmar by its military regime. Ever-since genocide on Rohingyas began, members of this community had not only entered Bangladesh, thousands of them have illegally moved into a number of countries in Asian, Australian, African and European continent.

One of the key points about the Rohingyas is – the majority of them are radicalized Muslims. They have extreme hatred towards secular individuals, nations and governments.

Back in 2017, while Bangladesh provided shelter to over 1.20 million Rohingyas, a large number of Rohingyas also have moved to India, fleeing atrocities of the Myanmar military establishment. Although there is no statistical data on the size of Rohingya refugees or those Rohingyas illegally living in India – back in 2020, India’s central government told its Supreme Court, “Rohingya presence in the country has serious national security ramifications and it poses national security threats. The illegal influx of Rohingyas into India started in 2012-13 and inputs suggest links of some of the immigrants with Pak-based terror groups. Some Rohingyas with militant backgrounds were active in Jammu, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mewat and are a potential threat to internal security”.

According to media reports, a number of nations, including Turkey, Iran and Pakistan are actively attempting to turn the entire Rohingya community – or at least majority of them towards radical Islamic militancy. There also are reports on secret links between Rohingyas and several jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Boko Haram, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hamas, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, and Hizb Ut Tahrir. These jihadist groups are particularly maintaining connections with a number of terrorist and militancy groups such as Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), and Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO).

Even three years ago, counterterrorism experts in South Asia were considering Rohingya jihadist outfit Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) as mere disorganized Muslim vigilantes, and they did not see any possible threats from it. But now, ARSA is considered as a dangerous jihadist group, which is succeeding in deepening its connections with global jihadist outfits including Islamic State (ISIS).

In a shocking revelation, India’s Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (UP ATS) has arrested an Islamist named Abu Saleh Mandol, a resident of Swarupnagar in the North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, on charges of bringing Rohingyas into India using funds totaling BDT 580 million received from abroad. The accused allegedly received the significant amount as a grant from Ummah International, a London-based organization, between 2018 and 2022. This disturbing revelation sheds light on the illicit practices applied by Islamist culprits in illegally bringing-in Rohingya Muslims into India thus ringing alarm about the country’s national security and the misuse of foreign funds.

In October 2020, South Asia Monitor in a report titled ‘Rohingyas pose a grave security threat to Bangladesh: Relocation and repatriation an urgent necessity’ said:

Three years ago, the Rohingyas took refuge in Ukhiya-Teknaf when extreme violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes and sought safety in neighboring Bangladesh. But now the question that weighs everyone’s mind is what is this conflict of dominance? Where have they got the money from? Why did they have weapons? What was their ultimate plan?

According to various sources, a large number of Rohingya, who took refuge in the camp, are now said to be involved in drug trafficking and mixed up with human traffickers too. Many have left the camp and taken up residence in other residential areas and have mixed with the local population so it is difficult to keep a tab on them. It has been reported that a nexus has been formed between the local smugglers and Rohingya refugees.

Meanwhile, there is shocking information about Hindu Rohingyas falling victims of Islamic jihadist outfit ARSA and Islamic Mahad, Myanmar’s Karen Border Guard Force (KBGF), a notorious militia group as well as similar entity such as Kayin State Border Guard Force (KSBF) are accused of running drug trade, illegal casinos and cyber-scam rackets, while thousands of female Hindu Rohingyas, both inside Bangladesh as well as Rakhine State are falling victims of sexual violence, including forced prostitution.

According to media reports, Hindu Rohingya refugees who fled a 2017 genocide perpetrated by jihadists belonging to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) are now facing intimidation from the Muslim jihadist group inside Myanmar, while ARSA men are regularly attempting to abduct Hindu female and sell them to transnational human trafficking rackets, thus finally forcing them into sex trade in a number of countries in the Middle East as well as countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and EU nations.

While the stateless Muslim Rohingyas, who face systematic discrimination in Myanmar because they are viewed as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, have refused to return unless they are granted full citizenship, recognition as a national ethnic group, and basic rights, as well as guaranteed a safe environment; Hindu Rohingyas are demanding their immediate return to Myanmar. They say their Myanmar citizenship was illegally stripped away in 1982.

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