A recent video-taped message of the al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has created much curiosity in the political circles of Bangladesh. In the 56-minute message on Wednesday, al-Zawahiri declared that his organization had created its branch for the Indian Sub-continent to wage 'jihad' across South Asia. He said, their new operations would fight to 'rescue' the Muslims in Myanmar, Bangladesh and in the Indian states of Assam, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir from injustice and oppression. So the Sub-continent's Muslims should be 'happy' over the news, al-Zawahiri added. His threat has already started working mainly in India. The country's government has asked its various states to be on high alert and included Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in the target list, although the al-Qaeda chief did not mention about those states.
Besides India, al-Zawahiri's message has created fear and suspicion among a particular section of the political leadership in Bangladesh also. Instead of wasting time some 'famous' members of this section have come forward and commenced shouting against the so-called Islamist militants of the country, who do not exist at all in reality. The real reason and purpose of their 'finding' and hue and cry are well known to the conscious people. They are not only trying again to colour the country as a 'heaven' of the Islamist militants like 'Bangla Bhai' and Shaikh Abdur Rahman, but also trying to create an excuse to launch a new phase of attacks on the parties and people of various walks of life, who do neither like them nor support the present 'elected' government. The patriotic forces of the country, on the other hand, have started to find the answer of a very important and crucial question- is there really any reason for fearing the al-Qaeda's threat for Bangladesh? And, should the creation of an Indian wing of the Islamist militant organization be a serious issue for our country ?
The reasons behind the questions are very clear. Though it was an open threat from the al-Qaeda chief, but in reality he was no more in a position to go for a protracted war or military actions in any country. In fact, since the mysterious killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011, the al-Qaeda's core movement was destroyed and as the leader al-Zawahiri would not be able to invigorate their waning movement. Moreover, the al-Qaeda has already lost its global influence to the ISIS, a group fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Hence it can be safely said that the purpose of al-Zawahiri's so-called Indian branch is in fact an attempt to gain some support in the region including Bangladesh and India. Besides, as the Muslims of Bangladesh are traditionally moderate, and secular too, there was no scope for the rise of Islamist militancy in the country.
It should be mentioned incidentally that the experts and political observers have given another answer to the question. According to them, the al-Qaeda cannot be a threat for such a country, big or small, where people are not ignored and democracy works. Quoting the allegations of various political parties and quarters, they have also opined that the present government of Bangladesh is not an elected one and democracy is not on proper footing. Perhaps, these are the real reasons for worrying about extremism of any kind. Extremism grows where the government is oppressive and the peoples are dissatisfied with the government. Those who deny democracy are the real helpers of al-Qaeda.