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Share not their threats

  • Published at 05:47 pm July 24th, 2016
  • Last updated at 05:51 pm July 25th, 2016
Share not their threats

All hell broke loose on the July 1 inside Holey Artisan Bakery with many precious lives lost, a few local but mostly foreign. Social media in Bangladesh got flooded with both criticism and praise for the government -- starting from how successful the military operation was, to the time taken to unmask the true attackers from the government’s end.

In my most humble opinion, since social media posts by laymen about such a terrorist attack were inevitable, we might as well consider looking at the positive impact.

For instance, one such impact would be the pressure that has been created upon the authority to question Hasnat Karim, a hostage whose actions in pictures and videos during the incident seemed suspicious. Amazingly enough, upon digging, his records did not seem to have been the cleanest, given his past affiliation with a banned radical Islamic organisation.

However, as the chaos continues with a recent video (containing three Bangladeshis) apparently posted by ISIS, we must refrain from sharing the video, or as a matter of fact any other related material, since such dissemination of terrorist propaganda, instigation or threats may be considered a terrorist offense itself in accordance to our law.

In the midst of such a phase where many of us feel that we should be of some help, we are not realising that, through our actions on social media, the terrorists are being successful in spreading their propaganda

Section 6(1)(c) of the Anti Terrorism Act, 2009 mentions that terrorist activities shall be deemed to be those when any person, entity, or foreigner creates “panic among the public or a section of the public with a view to compel any international organisation to do any act or prevents them from doing any act, commits or attempts to commit or instigates or conspires or abets to commit an offence mentioned under section 6(1) (a) sub-section (i), (ii) & (iii)” -- sub-sections that emphasise on killing, causing grievous hurt, kidnapping, confining, and instigating to do all of such to any person, including damaging or trying to damage property of such person.

Section 6(1)(f) further mentions that if a person, entity, or foreigner “commits any other act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organisation to do or to abstain from doing any act,” then such person entity or foreigner shall commit the offence of ‘terrorist activities’.”

While it is beyond any doubt as per the aforementioned Sections of our Anti-Terrorism Act that any material (video or otherwise) released by ISIS, or any other radical organisation, international or home-grown, is offensive, Section 13 of the Act is a concern for all of us, who, out of fear, anxiety, agitation, or excitement, feel obligated to share the terrorist’s material on social media.

Section 13 notably contains no provision of “intention.” Meaning that, the distribution of such material with no ill-intention (or rather, good intention) can yet be punishable.

Section 13 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2009 quotes that: “If any person, by his activities or participation, prepares or distributes any document, or by transmitting any information through any print or electronic (or any other) media, or through any apparatus, assistance or technology or training, assists any person or entity knowing that the said document, apparatus, assistance, or technology or training shall be used in committing any offence under this Act, or any such person or entity shall use the same for committing similar offences, he shall be deemed to have instigated terrorist activities; and he shall be punished with an imprisonment for a term not exceeding two thirds of the maximum punishment prescribed for that offence, or a fine, or with both; and if the prescribed punishment for that offence is death, then the punishment for the offence shall be imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 (fourteen) years, but not less than 4 (four) years.”

An important indication of the act reflects that, as long as the likely result of a person’s distribution of material is known (irrespective of the person’s intention), such shall constitute enough ground for the person to be held liable.

So, in the midst of such a phase where many of us possibly feel that we should be of some help, and we think the least we can do is perhaps make our surroundings cautious of certain materials by the terrorists, we are not realising that, through our actions on social media, the terrorists are being successful in spreading their propaganda.

Their objective of making us feel threatened, and the creation of public fear are being fulfilled.

Therefore, may we consider adopting some other means to create awareness regarding terrorist threats, and not put ourselves in jeopardy? It is a win for the terrorists if their threats affect our lives.

Resistance is when we shall continue our everyday lives with a stronger resolve, upon mourning for those who we have lost.

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