Former ambassador Humayun Kabir said terrorism can now be considered a ‘social disease’ which doesn't take the rich or the poor into account while spreading
Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) Chief Monirul Islam has said religious narratives only cover 20% of the ideologies adopted by domestic militants, while the rest is based on political agendas and a sense of deprivation.
“Among them [domestic militants], only 20% are from religious ideologies such as Jihad, while the rest hold anti-government, anti-USA sentiments with a narrative that Muslims across the worlds are being deprived,” he said at an online pre-publication announcement and discussion session of a book "Terrorism in Bangladesh: The Process of Radicalization and Youth Vulnerabilities," by Dr Zia Rahman and Monirul Islam, commemorating the Holey Artisan tragedy.
Former ambassador Humayun Kabir, Professor Imtiaz Ahmed from Dhaka University’s International Relations department and Professor Zia Rahman from the criminology department was present, along with Mahrukh Mohiuddin, director of operations and business development at UPL.
Prof Imtiaz conducted the program.
At the same time, CTTC chief Monirul Islam said investigators found that there are two types of people, from the affluent society and from the marginal level, who were more vulnerable to be influenced by such ideologies, as both of these groups have no connection with the Bangladeshi culture.
“People from the affluent society take their education abroad where they do not learn much about their own country. And the marginal people do not have much idea about culture. And many of them have no clear idea about religion,” he said.
He also said these vulnerable people sometimes seek mental peace in wrong or radicalized interpretations of religion when they face problems in life, such as social, economic, love-related or deprivation.
“However, the number of people who went towards militancy from such ideologies is very low,” he added.
At the same time, the concept of Ummah or Islamic rule, deprivation of Muslims across the globe, Muslims vs the West, were found to be issues which were radicalized to turn these people towards terrorism.
He also said that although all of these Bangladeshi terrorist believe Muslims are being deprived or oppressed, such as in the Arakan state of Myanmar or Israel, they face no deprivation in our country as almost 90% of the population is Muslim.
“Our domestic terrorism has no deprivation, rather a sense of deprivation,” the DMP CTTC chief said.
Terrorism now a ‘social disease’
Former ambassador Humayun Kabir said terrorism can now be considered a ‘social disease’ which doesn't take the rich or the poor into account while spreading.
“We see in towns and rural areas that the youths are disoriented. They have no role model to look up to and find no hope. We have to keep in mind that the youth from any age group can be idealistic,” he said.
“Due to the vulnerabilities, they look for refuge in something alternative, which could be political, religious or other ideologies. [But] we are not giving our attention to what that demand has created,” he added.
“The way we saw our lives, the present generation is not seeing it in the same way. To them, affluence could be a problem. During our time, many got involved with terrorism due to poverty, now the affluent people are leaning towards that problem.”
These places of vulnerabilities—role models, values and its manifestation in our society—could be reduced if all these things are brought to correspondence.
“I get astonished thinking that our youthful society is leaning on mono-identity gradually, when it needs to be the most diversified. It will not be wise to blame them. We are not rearing diversity in our meta-narratives.”
Lack of political knowledge among private university students responsible
When asked online by audience on why most terrorists in recent attacks were from private universities, Criminology Expert Prof Zia Rahman said “They [private university students] are from affluent families, deprived of international politics, and frustration among Muslims had impact them. As there is no politics in private universities, they [terrorists] tried to use it as a scope to spread religious extremism.”
At the same time, no studies on social sciences and arts in private universities have also led them towards militancy, he added, although these courses were added later after the Holey Artisan attack.
Prof Zia also held political parties of our country responsible as they made no policy for such youths.
When asked if the Shahbagh incident helped develop militancy or Islamic radicalization, he said: “We tried to show a link between poverty and terrorism, and are now drawing a relation between affluence and terrorism. Both of them are false methodologically. Rather third variable, what we call spurious variable, is politics.”
“Earlier in the 80s or 90s, politics used poverty variable, and are now using new affluence variable.”
He said that use of petrol bombs back in 2013, Shahbag movement, and radical Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam, and Holey Artisan attack were an attempt to overrule the punishment for war criminals.
Meanwhile, Prof Imtiaz Ahmed urged tolerance and practice of arts and culture in the country as a deterrent to the problem.
Mahrukh Mohiuddin, director of operations and business development at UPL, said the book would be republished within three months.