Nine Islamists give up the armed struggle, saying violence is the wrong path
by Sumon Corraya

After completing a deradicalisation programme run by the country’s anti-terrorism unit, they will start a new life with the support of the state. Their desire is to return to normality. Most Bangladeshis are in favour of the fight against extremism.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Nine Islamist militants reunited with their families yesterday after announcing that they were giving up the armed struggle. Six of the nine Muslim radicals belonged to Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh and the rest to Ansar-al-Islam.  

After completing a deradicalisation programme run by the Rapid Action Battalion, the country's elite anti-terrorism unit, they received some money and educational assistance from the government to  start a new life.

At the ceremony that saw the former militants start their journey back to their families, Home Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal condemned Islamist groups for “killing members of religious minorities”, stressing that the authorities, like most people in Bangladesh, will not tolerate extremism.

Radicalised groups began to emerge in Bangladesh in 2004. Many of their members were trained and indoctrinated in the Middle East. Their bloodiest attack came on 1st July 2016 when a commando stormed the Gulshan Cafe in Dhaka, killing 29 people people, including nine Italians.

As the she spoke about her story, Abida Jannat Asma, one of nine former militants, expressed regrets for taking the “wrong path”. She became radicalised after marrying an extremist she met at university. After that, she was “on the run”, unable to take part in any social activity. Now she wants to get back to some form of normal life, and she encourages her husband and other Islamist militants to do the same.

For Shaon Muntaha Ibn Shawkat, another one of the deradicalized militants, people's hearts cannot be won over by violence. He explained that he radicalised himself on the internet and got his family involved. “We have lived for years hunted by the police. Militancy was ruining the life of my wife and children. From today things will change and I will fight against extremism.”

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