Things will never be same again: FM07 August 2016 bdnews24.com
Just as 9/11 changed the American psyche forever, 'things will never be the same again' for Bangladesh after the Gulshan cafe attack, says Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali.
In an opinion piece for news portal, USNews, published on Aug 5, Ali said: "The attack has steeled Bangladeshis' determination to make sure the dream of a secular, inclusive, tolerant state doesn't die."
He referred to the killing of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, and said "Bangladesh is all too familiar with home-grown terror" as it experienced a horrific act of terrorism just four years after its birth. Now, 41 years later, as his daughter, Sheikh Hasina, is the prime minister of Bangladesh, "few can better sympathise" with the parents of the victims of the Holey Artisan Bakery than her.
"And none is better equipped - or more determined - to fight against home-grown terror and keep the dream of a secular Bangladesh alive," the foreign minister wrote.
Terrorists killed 20 hostages including 17 foreigners during the July 1 cafe siege inside the diplomatic zone of Gulshan.
The so-called Islamic State has claimed the responsibility, and published the photos of the attackers in its websites. The US administration offered assistance in the investigations.
Bangladesh government, however, denied such claims, and the law enforcing agencies said those were "home-grown" terrorists. The foreign minister through his opinion article gave an overview of the nature of the attack in Dhaka and some other cities in the world. He said Bangladesh terrorists may pose in front of the black flag of the Islamic State group, but they are not really Islamic State terrorists.
"They are local dissidents who have turned violent and have added another, internationally known name for themselves. Bangladesh intelligence has confirmed this," he said. He said Dhaka joins Paris, Brussels, Istanbul and Nice as cities that have recently suffered acts of violent extremism or, more precisely, the remote radicalisation of home-grown terrorists.
"In the US, the mass shootings in San Bernardino and Orlando share the same sad description.
"Terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda have remarkable reach around the globe thanks to the internet and the near-ubiquity of smart phones.
"They no longer need a base of operations in countries they wish to terrorise. Instead, they recruit online through propaganda videos and message boards. "Some of these recruits, including possibly some of the Dhaka attackers, follow up on these remote appeals and visit the terrorists' base countries to get training.
"Others never leave their countries. Instead, they soak up evil through the internet and carry out their home-grown violence under the name of the far-away terror group as a way to win a sick sort of fame.
"These are the most dangerous kinds of terrorists. They live side-by-side with their victims until instigated by the distant call of radicalism. "There is almost no way to guard against this kind of militancy and also maintain the civil rights of citizens as Bangladesh is constitutionally bound to do," he said.
"This is especially true when the extremists emerge from places you'd least expect, such as the enfranchised mainstream of society," he said as some of the Dhaka cafe attackers were middle-class young men who were good students from good families in Bangladesh.
"Likewise in the US, Micah Johnson, the killer of five Dallas police officers, and Gavin Long, the killer of three police officers in Baton Rouge, had been members of the US military, sworn to protect the country and its citizens. "What almost all of the extremist attackers in Bangladesh have in common, though, is a background in local anti-government groups.
"They may claim allegiance to the Islamic State group and other extremist groups outside of Bangladesh, but that is in large part an allegiance of convenience.
"Yes, their goals often align, such as the destruction of constitutional democracy that supports the rights of women and minorities, freedom of expression and freedom of worship.
"But in Bangladesh, at least, the terrorists have been entirely home-grown."
He said this was confirmed by the recent breakthrough arrest of 23-year-old Saiful Islam during the government's crackdown on terror. He said the attacks were a direct response to the Bangladesh government's moves toward ending religion-based politics and prosecuting war criminals responsible for 1971 genocide.
The foreign minister also mentioned the government's post-attack response, and said "this is not a move against free speech; this is rational, national self-defence."