B’desh Launches Crack­down on ISI-backed Ter­ror Groups

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Di­pan­janRoy.Chaud­hury @times­group.com

AHEAD OF DE­CEM­BER 23 ELEC­TION

New Delhi: The Sheikh Hasina gov­ern­ment has launched a mas­sive crack­down on ter­ror­ist groups al­legedly backed by Pak­istan’s in­tel­li­gence agency, In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence (ISI), ahead of the par­lia­men­tary elec­tion in Bangladesh sched­uled for De­cem­ber 23.

Po­lice has held em­ploy­ees of a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion (NGO) linked to a ter­ror­ist group and ini­ti­ated ac­tion against se­nior ex­ec­u­tives of an in­sur­ance firm alle ged to have been funded by Pak­istan, busted ter­ror­ist hide­outs and ini­ti­ated probe against a rene­gade ar my of­fi­cer for tar­get­ing sec­u­lar blog­gers.

In the un­re­lent­ing drive against ter­ror­ist groups and their sup­port­ers in Bangladesh since the Ho­ley Ar­ti­san cafe at­tack in 2016, more than 100 ter­ror­ists have been killed and over 1,500 ar­rested across the coun­try, Bangladesh gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials told ET. Eight em­ploy­ees of the NGO Small Kind­ness Bangladesh linked to banned out­fit An­sar-al-Is­lam have been ar­rested by po­lice in Bangladesh on charges of ter­ror fi­nanc­ing. A rene­gade Bangladeshi army ma­jor who later be­came a ter­ror­ist leader has emerged as the key ac- cused in the mur­der of a noted pro­gres­sive pub­lisher three years ago, of­fi­cials said. Sacked and fugi­tive ma­jor Syed Zi­aul Haq ap­peared to be the mas­ter­mind be­hind the killing of pub­lisher Faisal Are­fin Di­pan, said one of the of­fi­cials, who did not wish to be iden­ti­fied. Seven other op­er­a­tives of the banned An­sarul­lah Bangla Team were also part of the plan to tar­get the blog­ger, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial. Ter­ror­ists mur­dered 43-yearold Di­pan in his of­fice in cen­tral Dhaka’s Shah­bagh area in 2015, months af­ter they had killed blog­ger Avi­jit Roy.

Haq is the banned group’s “oper­a­tional chief ” and he tried to or­ches­trate a pro-Is­lamic army coup, said an­other Bangladesh gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial. The lat­est de­vel­op­ment comes five months af­ter a spe­cial court in Dhaka handed down the death penalty to two ter­ror­ists, two years af­ter they had hacked to death a pro­fes­sor in Ra­jshahi Unive r s i t y i n n o r t h west e r n Bangladesh. Hasina has em­pha­sised that Bangladesh does not and will not al­low its ter­ri­tory to be used by any ter­ror­ist, ter­ror­ist group or en­tity against any state or peo­ple, in­clud­ing In­dia. Her re­elec­tion is there­fore im­por­tant for In­dia’s sta­bil­ity and for keep­ing Bangladesh from once again be­com­ing a hub of ISI ac­tiv­i­ties, said coun­tert­er­ror­ism ex­perts.

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