7 July 2016

* Is Terror Attack in Dhaka Part of Ghazwa-E-Hind?

By Brig Narender Kumar (Retd.)
05 Jul , 2016

The terror strike at Dhaka should not be taken as an attack on Bangladesh alone, rather it should be seen as part of larger plan of ISIS and Al Qaeda to sound the bugle for Ghazwa-e-Hind (Battle for India).ISIS and Al Qaeda refer Hind and Khurasan to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. In the month of April 2016 during a lecture on “Conflict in West Asia and Rise of ISIS” I was asked to deliberate on the threat from ISIS to India.

My answer was that Bangladesh is the most ideal bridge that ISIS would like to use to gain entry into India because Jamaat-e-Islami has support of close to 15% population of Bangladesh and foot prints of home-grown terror groups such as JMB (Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh known sympathisers of ISIS and Al Qaeda) and international terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Islamic State exist on ground. Therefore, Bangladesh offers an opportunity and ideal fertile ground for ISIS and Al Qaeda to commence the so called Ghazwa-e-Hind.

The ISIS threat from Pakistan is lesser because Pakistan can be irrational but can’t be stupid to allow ISIS to transit through Punjab Province and march into Kashmir. The blow back impact will burn Pakistan as a state itself and Pakistan can’t make such a humongous strategic blunder of allowing ISIS and even Al Qareda to use their territory to attack India.Maritime threat does exit with radicalization of Maldives but most potent threat to India from ISIS and Al Qaeda will remain through Bangladesh.

Bangladesh a Corridor of Peril

Geographically Bangladesh gives an opportunity to ISIS and Al Qaeda to encircle India from East, because of the porous border and availability of network of Jamaat-e-Islami and other terrorist groups operating in Bangladesh. As per the reports of the Home Ministry, about 5.2 million persons from Bangladesh have legally settled in India, 3.1 million of which in West Bengal. There are also roughly 20 million illegal immigrants in India, many registered as voters, facilitating uninterrupted inflow of militants and clamouring for a lenient approach towards Bangladeshi militants.[1]

Another factor that makes Bangladesh a corridor of peril or pivot is shrinking base of Al Qaeda in Arab, where its cadres are defecting to ISIS. As a result Al Qaeda is making efforts to establish bases and sphere of influence in other parts to remain relevant. At the same time, ISIS is also aware of the potential of Bangladesh as a soft state with strong Jamaat-e-Islami support.Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan will endeavour to employ Bangladeshi militants to create chaos in India.[2]

Since it does not directly impact Pakistan and blow back of ISIS/ Al Qaeda impact will be on Bangladesh for which Pakistan has scant regard. In West Bengal there are some political leaders who are also accused of supporting local and Bangladeshi militants. In a confidential note West Bengal’s 24 Parganas District Superintendent of Police accused politicians supporting the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), and funding Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh.[3]

It is a corridor that has support and sympathizers on both sides of the borders and is poorly managed by state and Central government agencies.

Fallout of Instability in Bangladesh

Majority of Bangladeshi citizens are liberal and do not culturally support fanaticism and Salafist Extremism. Women are treated with dignity and youth especially are progressive in their outlook. Shabag protest was the biggest non-political protest in two decades in Bangladesh that was organised to demand death sentence to Abdul QuaderMollah (Assistant secretary-general of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami party)by youths of Bangladesh. It sent a message to Jamaat that youth will not blindly follow the dictate of hardliners. Divide is apparent within the society in Bangladesh and in spite of huge support liberal and moderate youth got during the Sahbag protest Jamaatis not deterred, rather the bloody campaign against the minority community, bloggers and atheist was has been intensified by extremists. The minorities in Bangladesh–Hindus, Christians and Buddhists–comprise around 10 percent of the country’s population and has been traditionally supporters of secular Awami League.[4]

It has been the endeavour of the BNP and Jamaat to deter minority community to remain away from the polling booths. The motive of selective targeting is political and fundamental in nature since the minority community is the deciding factor with 10% population that has remained loyal to Awami league. BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami are aware that it is not easy for them to come to power especially when crucial 10% votes are good enough to tilt the balance in favour of Awami League. Jammat want to be seen as the party of Muslims only and thus targeting of Hindus and Buddhist is a lucrative target to drum up support for themselves as guardians of Islamic values.

Fallout of instability and terror related

Bangladesh has the population of close to 177 million out of that 90% are Muslim, 09% Hindu and 01% is Buddhist, Christians and other religion. The population of minority community is approximately 17 million. Selective targeting is an endeavour to eliminate and create insecurity among the minority community so as to force them out of their homes and land. Recent terror strike on Hindus priests and Buddhist is pointing to sinister design that may unfold in near future. Attacks triggered by Al Qaeda and ISIS will further hasten up the anti-minority community campaign to create an environment of insecurity to force migration of minority community from Bangladesh.

“The rise in recent attacks is the sign of a reassertion of the communal forces led by the Jamaat.[5]Idea is to destroy the livelihood and property of minority community with a view to make it impossible for them to live in their ancestral places. As the situation stands, it is not difficult to predict that India and Myanmar are facing the prospect ofinflux of large refugees that may flock India and Myanmar in near future. The 1971 refugee crisis is likely to be recreated where 17 million minority communitieswill be forced to leave Bangladesh. It may get hastened up if BNP returns to power with the support of Jamaat-e-Islami. The impact of such crisis will trigger internal instability in India and it could spiral out into a communal disharmony in Bangladesh and India. Ripple effect is obvious and that is what ISI and ISIS would want to achieve.Such a scenario will be difficult to handlefor Bangladesh, India and Myanmar. This scenario is likely to impact bilateral relations, cultural ties, trade and communal harmonybetween India and Bangladesh.

In the backdrop of the above scenario it is a serious security predicament for India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The support rendered byJamaat-e-Islami and “Jamaat-Shibir (the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami) to extremists has serious security implications that needs to be addressed urgently. ISIS and Al Qaeda would like it to be seen as Ghazwa-E-Hind to drum up support through subversive activities. Therefore, it should not be treated as an internal security issue of Bangladesh and therefore, it will be a costly mistake for India to neglect the events taking place in Bangladesh. In any case the ISIS/ Al Qaeda attack in Bangladesh is a wakeup call for India. In the backdrop of what is happening in Bangladesh, it is better to be prepared than to live in denial and suffer irreparable loss. Bangladesh India and Myanmar should jointly deal with the extremist activities without any further delay.

Government of India must treat attack on Indians, whether it is in West Asia, North Africa or in Bangladesh as an attempt of ISIS and Al Qaeda as part of emotive call “Ghazwa-E-Hind”. India, Bangladesh and Myanmar should use every tool at their disposal to defeat the sinister design of ISIS, Al Qaeda and ISI.


[1] Saroj Kumar Rath, Extremism On The Eastern Frontier, Outlook, April 02,15.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Sanjay Kumar, Islamic Fundamentalists Terrorize Minorities in Bangladesh, The Diplomat, January 15, 2014

[5] Ibid.
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