08/19/2021, 10.27
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Dhaka concerned about local militiamen joining the Taliban

by Sumon Corraya

In Bangladesh several militant Islamist groups had participated in the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan, now in Kabul history is likely to repeat itself. Human rights activists lobby for non-recognition of the Taliban government. Foreign Minister: we will not accept refugees, we already host one million Rohingya. 



Dhaka (AsiaNews) - The reconquest of Afghanistan by the Taliban is worrying neighbouring nations. In the nineties, several militant Islamist groups (known by the names of Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh and Ansarul Islam) had sprung up in Bangladesh, joining the war against the Soviet occupation and reporting to al-Qaeda. History is now in danger of repeating itself: according to some sources, in recent days several people from Bangladesh have joined the Taliban. 

For Shafqat Munir, head of the Bangladesh Centre for Terrorism Research and a researcher at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies, the Taliban's assurance of preventing foreign fighters from entering Afghanistan must be taken with a grain of salt. "There are other terrorist groups in Afghanistan, such as ISIS [or ISKP, which stands for Islamic State Khorasan Province]. There is a possibility of a resurgence of al Qaeda, but at the moment we have no data," he told local media.

For some extremists, the prospect of going to fight in Afghanistan could be attractive. Or a new militant group could be born in Bangladesh itself. "Many Islamists here now feel inspired by the Taliban's victory," commented former army officer Shakhawat Hossain. The jubilation was shared on social media and many expressed concern. 

The Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee (a historic protest movement born to demand that Bangladeshi war criminals be tried) is among them: "It is alarming to see on social media the joy of some Muslims for the reconquest of Kabul," said Shahriar Kabir, president of the Committee. "We call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has shown zero tolerance for militancy and terrorist activity in the country, not to recognize the new Taliban government."

A member of the committee, Mithusilak Murmu, reiterated the same sentiment to AsiaNews, "We don't want to see any terrorist heading any government. If Bangladesh were to recognize the Taliban, the extremists will feel legitimized to create an Islamist country here as well."

Foreign Minister Abdul Momen said Bangladesh will continue to be vigilant about terrorists trained in Afghanistan, even though some of them have already been "identified and removed." He added that Bangladesh has rejected the U.S. request to take in refugees from Afghanistan because the country is already hosting over a million Rohingya. Instead, Dhaka is ready to recognize any government supported by the Afghan people, Momen concluded.

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