World Inside

US penchant for Islamist radicals resurface with human rights report

Publish: 10:27 AM, 26 Mar, 2023


The US deep state and policy establishment seems very fond of right-wing Islamist radicals or the 'mullahs'. They used them to bring down Iran's secular nationalist and democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh regime when it threatened to nationalise Iran's oil industry in the 1950s.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used the radicals backed and sheltered by Pakistan to torpedo Afghanistan's Saur revolution that was doing wonders for women's emancipation and the end of clan-based feudalism.

They backed the Pakistani military using radicals to attack India or suppress the 1971 Bengali uprising.

The US brought down Saddam Hussein with a fake scare that he had developed weapons of mass destruction -- the bluff was called by the BBC at some cost to its finances. The net result -- the rise of ISIS in the vacuum caused by the withering away of the secular though autocratic Baath Party.

The US-sponsored Arab Spring ended Hosni Mubarak's 'police state' but propelled the Islamic brotherhood to power. General Fateh Al Sisi has restored Egypt's secular polity in the great military tradition of backing secularism in the Islamic world, but US efforts to keep the Talibans out with a parachuted liberal like Ashraf Ghani failed miserably because Washington's regional favourite - Pakistan's military - played both sides -- supporting NATO forces with logistics and selective intelligence while backing the Talibans.

The US failures in fighting asymmetric campaigns across the world failed despite its overwhelming military power, because its deep state and military-industrial complex suffered from the: cowboy mindset' with overwhelming emphasis on force and confused approach to politics.

In the Islamic world, the US has always floundered because it has often found value in radicals/ mullahs for immediate tactical gains, but then seen them emerge as huge long-term threats.

Osama Bin Laden's saga comes to mind but is too well known to be recounted in detail.

Fearing that the US was about to repeat its historical mistake in Bangladesh which India could ill afford for an awful long list of reasons, Pranab Mukherjee ( later President) fought a long verbal duel with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton during the unfolding of the 1/11 Minus Two saga, reminding her that Islamic radicals in Bangladesh have to be fought by 'homegrown secular forces ' rather than US Marines or some propped up pot-bellied Bengali general.

Mukherjee prevailed and Bangladesh got a free and fair poll that brought back the Awami League to power. The late president has recounted this graphically in his memoirs "The Coalition Years".

Now the US is back to its old mischief of regime change using a mix of 'civil society' figures, Trojan horses inside the national power structure ranging from bureaucracy to political parties to military, and media assets.

The trouble is the US deep state rarely conjures up new innovative operational plans -- rather they prefer sticking to an accepted template.

In the case of Bangladesh, the US deep state and its cohorts in the policy establishment are following the 2013 Euromaidan model that worked so well in Ukraine. In fact, many from the Euromaidan team are handling the Bangladesh regime change operations. Now what works in Ukraine may not work in Bangladesh. But the Knight charlatans in Washington and Langley often miss out on regional peculiarities.

The latest US human rights report is part of the regime operations in Bangladesh. It seeks to boost the radical outfit Jamaat-e-Islami at a time when it has unleashed a hate campaign against the Ahmediyyas.

“Leaders and members of Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat), the largest Muslim political party in the country, could not exercise their constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly because of harassment by law enforcement authorities. Jamaat was deregistered as a political party by the government, prohibiting candidates from seeking office under the Jamaat name,” observes the human rights reports on Bangladesh.

Ironically, the state department is not in keeping with the issues that the Ahmediyya community raised with US Bangladesh Ambassador Peter Haas about the fundamentalist pro-Pakistan party running a boycott Ahmediyya campaign and pressing the government to declare them as “Unislamic”.

According to a press release issued by the Ahmediyya community, Ambassdor Haas, during his courtesy call to some of their leaders was told about "the serious concerns over the Jamaat-sponsored hate campaign and the highly communal statement from BNP’s secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir calling the attempt to hold the Ahmediyya rally controversial .

Days after the attack, Jamaat acting Secretary General Maulana ATM Masum issued a statement on March 5, asking the government to officially declare the Ahmadiyya community “non-Muslim”.

Moreover, an ardent Jamaat-backed Twitter handle named Basherkella posted a series of tweets asking people to boycott Ahmediyya, in clear evidence of a vicious hate campaign by the minority community.

The US human rights report also projects controversial rights body Odhikar as an “independent body”, oblivious to the fact that its founder Adilur Rahman Khan Shuvro was a deputy attorney general during the BNP-JAMAAT coalition government (2001-06).

'Odhikar' has been the moving force behind human rights data faking like blowing up the casualty figures during the 2013 police crackdown on ardent hardliners from Hefazat-e-Islam, then joined by opposition parties including Jamaat who even vowed to siege the capital to bring in Sariah Law, which was exposed by national media.

The UN ended up with eggs on its face when its reports contained names of hail-and-hearty Indian insurgents in the Bangladesh country report on Enforced disappearances -- again based on data fed by Odhikar and its fraternal organisations.

Moreover, the US report seems to quote frequently about Jamaat’s key ally, Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP), claims centering shrinking freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, but ignores the party’s series of attacks on the country’s press and role in instigating communal violence.

This has provoked sharp reactions from Awami League leaders and their concerns are valid. But what top civil society personality Sultana Kamal has approached will hopefully compel Washington into some kind of introspection.

She said in an interview and I quote:

"This report concerns the Jamat- e-Islami (Jamaat) Bangladesh, a political party which has a proven record of collaborating with the Pakistani Military Junta in 1971 in the acts of Genocide, abduction, loot, arson, rape and other kinds of violence against women.

It is an established fact that its military wings in the name of Al-Badar and Al-Shams were responsible for the intellectual killings between December 10 and 14. With due respect, I would like to submit that scanning through the media, Pakistani government communications and international reports on the Bangladesh genocide of 1971, one can not miss seeing what the role of Jamaat was during the nine months of massacre of Bangladesh from March to December.

It was through a process of law that Jamaat was de- registered. As a freedom fighter, I would like to also ask whether the Nazi party be allowed to function in Germany?

I have no idea on what basis the report states the war crimes trial in Bangladesh was flawed. Since I have not seen any clear explanation as to why some quarters make such remark about the war crimes trial, I prefer not to comment. However, my experience with the tribunal was that the accused's right to self defence was fully respected."

Now if the US wants us to believe Zillur Rahman’s Center for Governance Studies is a more credible institution than those helmed by Sultana Kamal, they are making a vain effort. We know how the ISI funded his so-called glorified interview of war criminals, along with the self-confessed killer of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, with one reportedly recorded in Pakistan, and how they then passed him on to the Chinese who took care of his TV show. Now the US finds value in him because he is agreeable, like a few others, to play a role in facilitating regime change in Bangladesh.

"The US agenda of demeaning the Hasina government is so preponderant that it goes all out to support a dangerous group like Jamaat which not only joined the Pakistani army in 1971 in perpetrating horrible atrocities. They nearly killed me in 2001 because my liberal views were unacceptable to Jamaat," former actress-playwright and minister Tarana Halim told a media outlet recently.

Halim, now Central Executive Member of the Awami League, said the West pitches for women's rights and human rights and then in the same breath upholds a group like Jamaat-e-Islami which is determined to impose Shariat law and curb gender rights in Bangladesh.

"The Western hypocrisy is so palpable and annoying. How can they get away with this," Awami League women leader Shahanaz Parvin Dolly told Bangladesh media.

A joint secretary at the Jubo Mohila League until the recent reorganisation of party committees, Dolly said the West talks of reconciliation in Bangladesh.

"That is impossible. How can we accommodate Jamaat-e-Islami, which opposed our freedom struggle and sided with Pakistan's occupation army to commit horrible brutalities on our people, especially against our women? As a Bengali woman, I will never accept their attempt to curb women's rights. We can't allow our country to be another Afghanistan," said Dolly.

According to the country’s eminent rights activists, the BNP’s top leadership, Tarique Rahman was convicted in cases of money laundering and holding a strong nexus with proscribed terror outfits during their rule in power back in 2001 to 2006. Tarique is now leading a fugitive life in London, who left the country having submitted an undertaking.

Under the rule of Tarique Rahman, Bangladesh became a hot bed for transnational terrorists while militants enjoyed a free reign with the highest state patronage, while a nefarious attempt known as the 21st grenade attack was executed in collusion with radicals that then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina has narrowly escaped.

Moreover, the absence of BNP’s threat of replication of the 1975-style assassination, calling out rights activists as AL sympathisers, and warning of capturing state power through violence — all that made the report ring hollow, according to experts.

So, from overthrowing the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran in the 1950s to using hardcore Islamists to fight the Afghan Jihad to backing the most regressive regimes of Saudi Arabia, the US has always found radical forces as ready-to-use material for regime change operations to defeat progressive forces in the Islamic world.

For Washington during the Cold War, Arab or Persian nationalists like Gamal Nasser, Saddam Hussein or Mossadegh were the principal enemy. On occasions, the script has gone wrong for Washington when volcanic events like the Islamic revolution unfolded in Iran in 1979 or when the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996.

Those like us who covered the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War closely and the events that followed find a continuity in US policy – first in backing the bloodthirsty Pakistan army and followed by Washington's covert backing to the brutal 1975 coup. For the Nixon-Kissinger duo, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – the founding father of the nation – was a "Soviet-Indian proxy". So Washington's dislike for Arab nationalists like Nasser easily translated into distrust of Bangali nationalists like Mujib and Sheikh Hasina.

So this ardent US defence of Jamaat in the State Department report proves a striking continuity in American policy of backing pro-Pakistan forces in Bangladesh. The US always had problems with passionate nationalists like Indira Gandhi, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman or Gamal Nasser. Regressive regimes like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan have always fitted Washington's bill by being too willing to play by Western strategic interests.

Not to mention a slew of earlier reports by the country’s leading outlets that laid bare how Jamaat's former money man Mir Quasem Ali schemed to foil the war crimes trial with a $25 million deal with one of the most influential US lobby firms, Cassidy & Associates, for engaging with the US government and the Bangladesh government "to protect his interest".

Sukharanjan Dasgupta is a veteran columnist and author of "Midnight Massacre" on the 1975 Bangladesh coup. As chief correspondent of Anandabazar Patrika, he reported on the Liberation War by gathering information from freedom fighters in Bangladesh.

Sukharanjan Dasgupta is a veteran columnist and author of "Midnight Massacre" on the 1975 Bangladesh coup. As chief correspondent of Anandabazar Patrika, he reported on the Liberation War by gathering information from freedom fighters in Bangladesh.

Source: IndiaToday


World Inside

Assam Flood Hit In10 Districts : 6 Lakh Affected

Publish: 01:57 PM, 02 Jun, 2024


The flood situation in Assam persisted, affecting over 6 lakh people across 10 districts, officials said on Sunday. 

Heavy rainfall across the state caused rivers such as Kopili, Barak, and Kushiyara to surpass their danger levels, which forcing prompte evacuations to affected people in many areas for safety, they said. 

Among the affected districts are Hailakandi, Hojai, Morigaon, Karimganj, Nagaon, Cachar, Dibrugarh, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong West, and Dima Hasao, with a total of 6,01,642 people impacted by the floods.

The death toll from floods and storms since May 28 stands at 15. Nagaon remains the most severely affected district, with over 2.79 lakh people affected, followed by Hojai with 1,26,813 and Cachar with 1,12,265. Over 40,000 displaced individuals are seeking refuge in relief camps across various districts. Multiple agencies, including NDRF, SDRF, local administration, and volunteers, are conducting rescue and relief operations.

Furthermore, road and rail communications are disrupted in several parts of the state. Due to track damage and waterlogging, ten trains scheduled to depart from Saturday to Monday have been canceled, according to a spokesperson from Northeast Frontier Railway's Lumding division.

Assam   Flood  


World Inside

US, UK launch new wave of strikes against Yemen's Huthis

Publish: 10:17 AM, 25 Feb, 2024


American and British forces carried out a fresh wave of strikes Saturday against 18 Huthi targets in Yemen, following weeks of unrelenting attacks on Red Sea shipping by the Iran-backed rebels.

The strikes "specifically targeted 18 Huthi targets across eight locations in Yemen" including weapons storage facilities, attack drones, air defense systems, radars, and a helicopter, a joint statement said.

It was co-signed by Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand, who gave unspecified "support" to the new round of strikes, the second this month and fourth since the rebels began their attacks on ships in the region.

"The Huthis' now more than 45 attacks on commercial and naval vessels since mid-November constitute a threat to the global economy, as well as regional security and stability, and demand an international response," the statement said.

Huthi-run Al-Masirah television reported "a series of raids on the capital Sanaa," while AFP correspondents in the rebel-controlled city in western Yemen said they heard several loud bangs.

"The United States will not hesitate to take action, as needed, to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world's most critical waterways," Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said in a separate statement after the strikes.

"We will continue to make clear to the Huthis that they will bear the consequences if they do not stop their illegal attacks, which harm Middle Eastern economies, cause environmental damage, and disrupt the delivery of humanitarian aid to Yemen and other countries."

Huthi military spokesman Yahya Saree was defiant, vowing in a social media statement that the rebels would "confront the American-British escalation with more qualitative military operations against all hostile targets in the Red and Arab Seas."

The UK Ministry of Defence said four Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s targeted "several very long-range drones, used by the Houthis for both reconnaissance and attack missions," on Saturday, at a site north-east of Sanaa.

Saturday's operation comes after several merchant vessels were struck this week in the region, including the fertilizer-filled Rubymar, whose crew had to abandon ship after it was hit Sunday and began taking on water.

Apart from the joint operations with Britain, the United States has also carried out unilateral strikes against Huthi positions and weaponry in Yemen, and downed dozens of missiles and drones in the Red Sea.

- Anti-ship missile downed -

Earlier on Saturday, US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that an American Navy ship had shot down an anti-ship ballistic missile "launched into the Gulf of Aden from Iranian-backed Huthi controlled areas of Yemen."

The missile "was likely targeting MV Torm Thor, a US-Flagged, owned, and operated chemical/oil tanker," CENTCOM said on X, formerly Twitter.

US forces on Friday also shot down three attack drones near commercial ships in the Red Sea and destroyed seven anti-ship cruise missiles on land, CENTCOM said.

The Huthis say they are targeting Israel-linked vessels in support of Palestinians in Gaza, which has been ravaged by the Israel-Hamas war.

Following previous US and UK strikes, the Huthis declared American and British interests to be legitimate targets as well.

The Huthis will "persist in upholding their religious, moral and humanitarian duties towards the Palestinian people, and their military operations will not stop unless the aggression stops and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted," military spokesman Saree said.

Anger over Israel's devastating campaign in Gaza -- which began after an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 -- has grown across the Middle East, stoking violence involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.


World Inside

Israel strikes Gaza's Rafah as truce talks under way

Publish: 01:54 PM, 22 Feb, 2024


Israel launched air strikes Thursday on southern Gaza's Rafah after threatening to send troops into the city, where around 1.4 million Palestinians have sought shelter from around the territory.

Global powers trying to navigate a way to end the Israel-Hamas war have so far come up short, but a US envoy was expected in Israel on Thursday to try to secure a truce deal.

International concern has spiralled over the high civilian death toll and dire humanitarian crisis in the war sparked by Hamas's October 7 attack against Israel.

More than four months of relentless fighting and air strikes have flattened much of the Hamas-run coastal territory, pushing its population of around 2.4 million to the brink of famine, according to the UN.

International concern has in recent weeks centred on Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah, where more than 1.4 million people forced to flee their homes elsewhere in the territory are now living in crowded shelters and makeshift tents.

The last city untouched by Israeli ground troops, Rafah also serves as the main entry point via neighbouring Egypt for desperately needed relief supplies.

Israel has warned it will expand its ground operations into Rafah if Hamas does not free the remaining hostages held in Gaza by next month's start of the Muslim holy month Ramadan.

- 'My daughter' -

The war started when Hamas launched its attack on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Hamas militants also took about 250 hostages -- 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 30 presumed dead, according to Israel.

Israel's retaliatory campaign has killed at least 29,313 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest count by the Hamas-run health ministry in the territory.

War cabinet member Benny Gantz said Israel's operation in Rafah would begin "after the evacuation of the population", although his government has not offered any details on where civilians would be evacuated to.

In the early hours of Thursday, AFP reporters heard multiple air strikes on Rafah, particularly in the Al-Shaboura neighbourhood.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said early Thursday that 99 people had been killed around Gaza during the night, most of them women, children and elderly people.

Abdel Rahman Mohamed Jumaa said he lost his family in recent strikes on Rafah.

"I found my wife lying in the street," he told AFP. "Then I saw a man carrying a girl and I ran towards him and.... picked her up, realising she was really my daughter."

He was holding a small shrouded corpse in his arms.

- 'Possibility of progress' -

Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, was expected to arrive in Israel Thursday -- his second stop in the region after Egypt as part of US efforts to advance a hostage deal and broker a truce.

Hamas's chief Ismail Haniyeh was in Cairo for talks as well, according to the group.

Israel's Gantz said there were efforts to "promote a new plan for the return of the hostages".

"We are seeing the first signs that indicate the possibility of progress in this direction."

Matthew Miller, US State Department spokesman, said Washington was hoping for an "agreement that secures a temporary ceasefire where we can get the hostages out and get humanitarian assistance", but declined to give details on ongoing negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted the army will keep fighting until it has destroyed Hamas and freed the remaining hostages.

Israel's parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed a proposal by Netanyahu to oppose any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

The vote came days after the Washington Post reported that US President Joe Biden's administration and a small group of Arab nations were working out a comprehensive plan for long-term peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

It included a firm timeline for the establishment of a Palestinian state, the report said.

Separately, a report by an Israeli group that fights sexual violence said Hamas's October 7 attack also involved systematic sexual assaults on civilians, based on witness testimonies, public and classified information, and interviews.

The report came the same week UN rights experts called for an independent probe into alleged Israeli abuses against Palestinian women and girls -- which Israel rejected as "despicable and unfounded claims".

Israeli officials have repeatedly alleged the militants committed violent sexual assaults during the attack -- something Hamas has denied.

- 'Waiting for death' -

Combat and chaos have stalled sporadic aid deliveries for civilians in Gaza, while in Khan Yunis -- a city just north of Rafah -- medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said an Israeli tank had fired on a house sheltering their employees and families.

Two relatives of MSF staff were killed and six others injured, it said, condemning the strike in the "strongest possible terms".

When contacted by AFP about the incident, the Israeli army said its forces had "fired at a building that was identified as a building where terror activity is occurring", adding that it "regrets" harm to civilians.

In the same town, the Palestinian Red Crescent said another hospital was also hit by "artillery shelling".

Israel has repeatedly said Hamas militants use civilian infrastructure including hospitals as operational bases -- claims that Hamas has denied.

Israel Strikes   Gaza's Rafah  


World Inside

PM for doing business with India thro Tk, Rupee

Publish: 08:31 AM, 18 Feb, 2024


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today stressed the need for expanding business between Bangladesh and India using their own currencies.

"We can do our business through exchanges of Bangladeshi Taka and Indian Rupee. It has already started, but we have to expand it further so that we can increase our businesses," she said while Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar paid a call on the Prime Minister.

The meeting was held at Hotel Bayerischer Hof, the conference venue, here on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2024, this morning.

Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud briefed newsmen about the outcome of the meeting upon its completion.

The Foreign Minister said the Bangladesh Premier and Jaishankar attached importance to doing business between the two friendly countries through their own currencies to reduce dependency on other currencies like the US dollar.

He said Bangladesh and India have excellent bilateral relations and it has elevated to another height under the leadership of the prime ministers of the two countries.

"The relations between the countries are getting stronger day by day," he said, adding that the two leaders discussed the issues during the meeting.

Quoting Jaishankar, Hasan said, "Our relations will further be closer in the days ahead." 

Bangladesh Ambassador to Germany Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and PM's Deputy Press Secretary Md. Noorelahi Mina were present during the briefing.

Bangladesh Prime Minister arrived in Munich on February 15 evening on a three-day official visit to join the Munich Security Conference 2024.

Upon completion of the tour, Sheikh Hasina will leave Munich tomorrow night and is scheduled to reach Dhaka on February 19.



World Inside

PM calls for stopping Russia-Ukraine war as she talks with Zelenskyy

Publish: 08:27 AM, 18 Feb, 2024


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon all concerned to find ways to stop Russia-Ukraine war while holding a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy here.

"Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina always says we are against all kinds of war. Today, she discussed time and again about how the war can be stopped while holding talks with Zelenskyy," said Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud at a news briefing after the meeting.

The meeting between the two leaders was held at Hotel Bayerischer Hof here on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2024, this morning.

Hasan also said that they also discussed how the attacks on innocent men and women in Gaza can be stopped.

The Premier reminded all that war can't bring wellbeing for any one.

"Others can be benefitted from the war. But the war cannot bring welfare for the countries  involved in war and their people have to be affected by the war," said Sheikh Hasina.

In this connection, the Prime Minister recollected her memories about the sufferings of  the countrymen and she herself faced during the Great War of Liberation in 1971.

She recalled her inhuman sufferings and the birth of her only son Sajeeb Wazed Joy under the captivity of the Pakistani occupation forces during the War.

"Bangladesh's foreign policy - 'Friendship to all, malice to none’ - prominently came up in the discussion between Prime Minister and Zelenskyy," the foreign minister said.

Replying to a query, Hasan said the friendly relations between Bangladesh and Russia which got foundation during the Liberation war , will not hamper at all.

"Our relationship with Russia is very wonderful. Russia stood beside us during the Liberation War and played a pivotal role in rebuilding Bangladesh after the war," he said.

He said they only discussed how to stop the war.

Bangladesh Ambassador to Germany Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and PM's Deputy Press Secretary Md. Noorelahi Mina were present during the briefing.

Bangladesh Prime Minister arrived in Munich on February 15 evening on a three-day official visit to join the Munich Security Conference 2024.

Upon completion of the tour, Sheikh Hasina will leave Munich tomorrow night and is scheduled to reach Dhaka on February 19.