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Terrorism in Bangladesh



problem for long. Because of the close proximity and porous border between these two countries it is also catalyzing terrorist activities in this side of border.

(c)Others. Bangladesh is exposed to the existing global environment as well. Some vested groups within country may have link with international terrorists or criminals and may be motivated or influenced by them. The strategic location of Bangladesh also makes is lucrative for transit or harbor of various terrorist outfits.

8.Internal Environment.

(a)Society and Culture. Bangladeshi society is characterized by its simplicity, historic and religious values. The people are warm and cooperative. Mass people are generally conservative and pious, but they are tolerant and believe in social harmony. Culture of Bangladesh is based on its long inherited history. Though there is some influence of external culture in recent days, people are culturally coherent.

(b)Demography.Bangladesh is a truly homogeneous country. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world having 89% of the population as Muslims, 09% Hindus, 0.7% Buddhists, 0.3% Christians and rest are 1%. There are tribal people living mostly in hilly regions.


(c)Economy. The country’s economy is primarily based on agriculture and is rapidly shifting towards industrialization. Though in past decade, the economy has grown at more than 6% per year and poverty dropped by nearly a third, still 31.5% of the population lives below poverty line (Source: World Bank Data, 2010).[1] There is significant disparity between poor and rich of the society. While there is growth in readymade garment industry and self-entrepreneurship, a huge number of labour force remain unemployed.

(d)Governance. In terms of good governance, Bangladesh has not achieved much. There is wide spread perception about corrupt institutions and actors. Transparency International has ranked Bangladesh 136 out of 177 countries of the world in corruption perception index.[2] There is lack of transparency and accountability. Management and services in different social sector is yet to be up to a good standard. Instability and rift in the political sector also continues to suffer people.

(e)Education. In Bangladesh there are different streams of Education system. The mainstream of education system is typical Bengali Medium as per the education board curriculum. In urban areas modern English Medium Schools and Private Universities are also in prominence. Besides, Madrassa Education is spread all across the country. Madrassa education has long been a subject for profound blame, to be a breeding ground for terrorism in Bangladesh. However, recent trends of terrorism in Bangladesh reject any significant correlation between Madrassa education and its linkages with terrorism. Only 19% of those who were arrested for terrorism were drawn from Madrassas.[3] Many of the


apprehended terrorists are from private Universities as well. It is lack of education and wrong motivation that is responsible for terrorism.

Situational Links of Terrorism in Bangladesh


Terrorism in Bangladesh-Current Perspective

9.Bangladesh, a country faced with myriad challenges related to development and governance has also in last decade been faced with a major challenge from terrorism and violent extremism. A number of attacks jolted the country in the past and people in Bangladesh were also exposed to the threat from Islamist militancy. Although there have been fewer attacks compared to Bangladesh’s regional neighbors, the threat remains a significant one for the country.[4] The very geographical location, insurgent activities in the neighboring countries, large population, illiteracy, high rate of unemployment makes it prone to any catalyst effect. Prevailing terrorism scenario in Bangladesh is discussed in subsequent paragraphs.

10.Ultra-Left or Communists. Today the communists are of little political consequence and resort to arson, anarchy, subversion and extortion activities. Left wing extremists groups are located roughly in the North-West, South-West and North-East part of the country. Over the years most of these parties have been split into several factions, each posing little or negligible threat to the state.

11.Ideologically Digressed Groups. The trend in Bangladesh in past decade has been the growth of ideologically digressed groups with Islamic character that have no popular appeal mainly due to their promotion of misinterpreted thoughts/ideas and in some cases intolerant ideology model. The most prominent of these groups include Jammat-ul-Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB), Harkatul-Jihad-al-Islami(HUJI-B), Hizb-ut-Tahrir Bangladesh ect.

(a)JMB.The group founded in 1998, carried out a number of terrorist attacks including a serial bomb blast across Bangladesh in August 2005 which


brought the terrorist threat to Bangladesh into the spotlight. In the aftermath of those attacks, the Bangladesh government initiated a sustained crackdown on Islamist terrorist organizations and especially focused on curbing JMB. Due to sustained operations, it was able to unravel the network of the organization and apprehend the leadership and other key members of the group within a short span of time. The JMB leaders and other members of the Majlis-e-Shura, the principal decision making body of the organization were put through a trial process and subsequently executed.

(b)Harkat ul Jihad Al Islami – Bangladesh (HuJI-B). Founded by returnees of the war in Afghanistan in 1992, it is generally regarded as a more shadowy group compared to JMB. HUJI-B has also followed a target pattern which is similar to JMB thereby essentially targeting members of the intelligentsia and also attacks on cultural celebrations such as the Bengali New Year in 2001.[5] In a subsequent crackdown by the authorities a number of HUJI-B leaders were arrested and since then the group has not been able to stage any successful operations. On 05 Mar 2008, United States listed HUJI-B as a terrorist organization.

(c)Hizbut Tahrir Bangladesh.While JMB and HUJI-B have generally been the two major groups which have captured international attention, the activities of Hizbut Tahrir (HT) have also become a cause of concern in the recent past. According to its manifesto Hizbut Tahrir is committed to the restoration of the Caliphate and the creation of a global Islamic state which would transcend national boundaries.[6] This organization has been declared as a


terrorist organization and has been banned by Bangladesh Government in October 2009.

12.Insurgent Groups. The next variant on the terrorist theme in Bangladesh are the insurgent groups that operated in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) since late 70's. The Chittagong Hill Tracts people's solidarity association named Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS) formed in 1972 was launched as a mass contact organization and had discernible communist leanings. After the signing of CHT peace accord between government and PCJSS in 1997 the situation stabilized. However, there appeared few new groups that were opposed to the agreement and engaged in violent opposition with the PCJSS.

13.Insurgents/Terrorists with International Links. Security Forces of BD have also conducted operations targeting the Myanmar rebels in the Southern part of the country. During this 'Anti-Crime' campaign, Security Forces reportedly neutralized/busted several hideouts of rebel groups in the border district of Bangladesh. Few top level rebel leaders and their associates were arrested and huge arms and ammunition were also recovered. Few L-e-T suspects who tried to use the Bangladeshi territory (mainly as transit) were also apprehended after exhaustive intelligence hunt.

14.Counter Terrorism Effort in Bangladesh.Counter Terrorism in Bangladesh has been a success so far. It was mainly a law enforcement centric approach where Bangladesh Police have played a crucial role. Alongside the police, Intelligence and Security agencies plays a critical role in the counter terrorism effort. Bangladesh’s intelligence agencies such as National Security Intelligence (NSI) and Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) have played a major role from the early days of Bangladesh’s fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Many of the successful CT actions of the Bangladesh government have been successful due to the adroit role played by these agencies. In the context of Bangladesh, the military has played a


crucial role in various aspects of national security. Bangladesh has enacted a specific Counter Terrorism legislation in 2009. The new law defines what constitutes a terrorist threat in Bangladesh and also empowers relevant organizations to counter the threat. A separate Anti Money Laundering Act has also been enacted.[7]

SWOT Analysis

15.A SWOT analysis of strength and weakness from internal environment and opportunity and threat from external environment is carried out based on following parameters:-



Very High


Very High














16.The strengths and weaknesses drawn from the internal environment can be listed as under:-



(a) Social harmony & resilience

(b) Demographic homogeneity

(c) Simplicity, religious & ethical values

(d) Free and vibrant press

(e) Opportunities of self-employment & private sector

(f) Peace loving population

(a) Huge population

(b) Poor education & unemployment

(c) Technology & infrastructure

(d) Political instability

(e) Governance

(f) Poverty and economic constraints

[1] http://data.worldbank.org/country/bangladesh, accessed on 18 November 2013

[2] http://www.transparency.org/country#BGD, accessed on 20 November 2013

[3] Counter Terrorism Core Group. “Counter Terrorism in Bangladesh – A Strategy Paper”. July 2007, Dhaka, p 4

[4] Shafqat Munir. “A National Counter Terrorism Strategy BANGLADESH”, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies. May 2011, Dhaka, p 7

[5] Shafqat Munir. “A National Counter Terrorism Strategy BANGLADESH”, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies. May 2011, Dhaka, p 11

[6] Shafqat Munir. “A National Counter Terrorism Strategy BANGLADESH”, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies. May 2011, Dhaka, p 7

[7] Shafqat Munir. “A National Counter Terrorism Strategy BANGLADESH”, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies. May 2011, Dhaka, p 14 - 18

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