World View: Bangladesh Government Arrests 3,192 People to Stop Terrorist Killings

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings
  • History of Bangladesh’s ‘BNP-Jamaat clique’ goes back to massive 1971 ethnic war

Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses a press conference on Tuesday
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses a press conference on Tuesday

Bangladesh’s government has launched an anti-terror campaign, and begun by arresting 3,192 persons, including 37 militants belonging to outlawed radical jihadist groups.

Most of the militants arrested were members of the outlawed Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the outfit believed to have carried out a series of attacks on Hindus, Christians, bloggers, activists, professors and people from different other professions, leaving them hacked to death in broad daylight. The other militant groups swept up by the mass attacks are Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina said that the police would stamp out this violence:

Where will they hide in Bangladesh. No one will get away. Bangladesh is a small country. It’s not a tough task to find them. They will be brought to justice.

Each and every killer will be brought to book as we did after the 2015 mayhem (and) all their sources, financiers and patrons would be unearthed and brought to justice as well.

When she referred to “all their sources, financiers and patrons, she was referring to the “BNP-Jamaat clique,” an alliance of opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat), that she has repeatedly accused of being behind the violent attacks. In particular, she has repeatedly accused the BNP-Jamaat clique of supporting Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the jihadist terror group responsible for the killings.

In a speech in May, she said, “BNP-Jamaat clique is now selectively killing imams of mosques, priests of temples, fathers of churches and teachers of universities alongside common people to create instability in the country.”

BNP secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir accused the government of using the massive crackdown to suppress political dissent. He rejected the allegation that BNP and Jamaat were behind the attacks and accused the government of arresting “hundreds of opposition activists in the name of crackdown against Islamist militants.” BDNews (Dhaka) and India Times and Daily Star (Dhaka) and Dhaka Tribune (29-May)

History of Bangladesh’s ‘BNP-Jamaat clique’ goes back to massive 1971 ethnic war

Although the extremely bloody 1947 war between Hindus and Muslims that followed Partition, the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, was a generational crisis war for western India and what is now Pakistan, it was a far less brutal non-crisis war for eastern India (Bihar and West Bengal provinces) and what is now Bangladesh (East Bengal). Because of its enormous size, east and west India are on different generational timelines.

For east India and the current Bangladesh, the extremely bloody generational crisis war occurred as an ethnic civil war in 1971 between Biharis and Bengalis. At that time, Pakistan was split into West Pakistan and East Pakistan (East Bengal), and the outcome of the 1971 war was that East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

Both the Bengalis and the Biharis are mostly Muslim, although the Biharis also include a small population of Hindus. The Bengalis are the indigenous majority ethnic group of Bangladesh, and speak the Bengali language. The Biharis are mostly Urdu-speaking people who crossed the border from India and settled in East Pakistan during the 1947 Partition war.

Although the Bihari population was much smaller than the population of indigenous Bengalis, the Biharis became a “market-dominant minority,” allied with the West Pakistan government, in control of the major business and government organizations, while the indigenous Bengalis were most laborers.

The 1971 war between the Biharis, supported by Pakistan’s army, and the Bengalis was extremely bloody and genocidal on all sides.

Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (Jamaat) was formed in 1941, and in 1971 it was on the side of the Biharis and Pakistan’s army in opposing the anti-government uprising by the Bengalis. In the 1980s, it allied with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), forming what the prime minister is calling the “BNP-Jamaat clique.”

Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Biharis living in refugee camps in filthy conditions, with the largest camp just north of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city. These are certainly a large part of the motivation for Bihari jihadist groups to continue terrorist attacks. Today they’re often referred to as “the stranded Pakistanis,” because in 1971 Pakistan promised to transport them back to Pakistan, but later reneged on that promise.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is the leader of the Bangladesh Awami League, which is a Bengali political party originally formed in 1949. The Awami League led the anti-Pakistan rebellion in the bloody 1971 civil war between Biharis and Bengalis.

Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is a violent jihadist terror group formed in 1998, reaching a peak of violence in August 2005 when it detonated 500 bombs at 300 locations throughout Bangladesh.

So when prime minister Hasina accuses the “BNP-Jamaat clique” of supporting JMB, what she’s really doing is accusing the Biharis of attacking the Bengalis in revenge for losing the 1971 war.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is not surprising at all.

As I’ve written many times, most recently with respect to Kenya ( “7-Jun-16 World View — Increasing violence in Kenya revives fears of tribal war”) but previously in articles about Rwanda, Lebanon, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and other countries, countries that experience an internal ethnic civil war follow the same pattern.

Among generational crisis wars, an external war is fundamentally different than an internal civil war between two ethnic groups. If two ethnic groups have lived together in peace for decades, have intermarried and worked together, and if then there’s a civil war where one of these ethnic groups tortures, massacres and slaughters their next-door neighbors in the other ethnic group, then the outcome will be fundamentally different than if the same torture and slaughter had been rendered by an external group. In either case, the country will spend the Recovery Era immediately following the war setting up rules and institutions designed to prevent any such war from occurring again. But in one case, the country will be unified in the decades to follow, while in the other case, the country will be increasingly torn along the same ethnic fault line.

That’s what’s going on today in Bangladesh. Starting in the 2000s, which was a generational Awakening era for Bangladesh, the Bihari-based Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) began conducting terrorist activities targeting the Bengali-based Awami League, and Bengalis in general. The Bengali-led government is responding by cracking down on the Biharis. This pattern of terrorist violence met with violent government crackdown continues in cycles, with each cycle worse than the previous one. This is a pattern that occurs in all countries that go through an ethnic generational crisis civil war, and it always ends up in new crisis civil war several decades later. Meri News (India) and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP – India) and Global Security (Washington)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, Bengalis, Beharis, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh JMB, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, JMJB, Ansarullah Bangla Team, ABT, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamaat, BNP-Jamaat clique, Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, India, Partition, West Pakistan, East Pakistan, East Bengal, West Bengal, Bangladesh Awami League
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