Foreign Policy Blogs

International Terrorism and Bangladeshi Politics

I’ve been following the news of three Bangladeshi men who’ve been  implicated in an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka.  One of these men is the son of a leader of a major Islamist political party in Bangladesh. I will continue to follow this story, but promise that there will be much else to discuss.  After all, there’s much else to discuss about Bangladesh; she’s not a country that should command our attention only when some named Hurricane or typhoon hits her coasts, or when some ambitious man wins a Nobel Prize.

Nevertheless, Bangladesh is now being written into–perhaps, she’s writing herself into–the political narrative of the fight against international terrorism.  And it is for that reason that I’d like to devote a few more gigabytes to this story.

To wit, 3 Pakistani’s nationals who are affiliated with Lashkar e Taiba and are still out and about in Bangladesh have been named as co-conspirators in an attempted bombing of the U.S Embassy AND the Indian High Commission before the annual Hajj, which takes place later this month in Saudi Arabia.

As the Daily Star reported yesterday:

“Officials of the Detective Branch of police said they received the information from detained Bangladeshi LeT leader Mufti Harun Izahar, son of Islami Oikya Jote leader Mufti Izaharul Islam, and Harun’s associates Shahidul Islam and Al Amin alias Saiful.”

“The detectives said during interrogation, the arrestees divulged that three Pakistani nationals aged around 30 came to Bangladesh two months back to execute the attack plan with the help of Harkatul Jihad al Islami members.”

“The LeT men also had plans to attack embassy officials or explode bombs in front of the diplomatic missions, said DB officials.”

So here we observe two internationally organized Islamist groups align together to engage in political terrorism.  The interesting question is: Are their incentives aligned together, in parallel, even now?  I can see that before they were found and arrested the Bangladeshi plotters would have been eager to set off an attack and get the private acknowledgment of their co-conspirators like Lashkar in Pakistan and elsewhere.  Moreover, because politics and terrorism borne of politics is all about street credibility, Huji might have been trying to wrest some glory from Jamaat-ul Mujahideen, the largest Islamist terrorist organization in Bangladesh.

But now that they have been found, I’d think they are more likely to cooperate with the authorities.  Already, they seem convinced that cooperating with the authorities and defecting against each other is a better move than stonewalling.  Let’s hope that the prisoner’s dilemma plays out here, and they divulge more information than they needed to save their necks.

Indeed, I wonder whether this spate of news will have some observable impact on the forthcoming reshuffle of the BNP executive committees.



Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link:

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