July 8, 2006
The Wisdom Fund

How Extremism Came to Bangladesh

by Anonymous

In East Pakistan's first national election held in 1970 under Pakistani military rule, the Pakistan Awami League, which pledged to end discrimination and economic exploitation of the Bengalese in East Pakistan, won a landslide victory. However, instead of handing over power, Pakistan's military, with the help of the Nixon-Kissinger administration, and the losing Jamat I Islami (JIB) party, set out to destroy the newly elected Awami Leaguers and their supporters.

On the first night of the "genocide", March 25, 1971, the West Pakistan military killed almost all the professors in the university quarters, set fire in the slums, and as people came out they began shooting. Over one hundred thousand girls and women were raped by these "defenders of Islam".

These "Islamists" enjoyed special status with the CIA during the Soviet era, and they maintain a strong relationship with the oppressive Saudi and Pakistan governments.

The JIB introduced a radical Wahabi Islam with which Bengalese were least familiar. Islam had first come to the region through the Sufi's who were singers, poets and musicians and did not lust for power or glory. Their simple life style, and their message of compassion, tolerance, equality and brotherhood attracted people to Islam.

Archer Blood, then US Consul General, in the most strongly worded letter from State department officials "that has ever been documented" (Christopher Hitchens: Trial of Henry Kissinger, p. 45), dispatched a telegram to the U.S. department of state and to Henry Kissinger, signed by twenty members of the United States diplomatic team in Bangladesh.

Blood wrote: "Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities. Our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens while at the same time bending backwards to placate the West Pakistan dominated government and to lessen any deservedly negative international public relations impact against them. Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy, ironically at a time when the USSR sent president Yahya Khan (military general) a messege defending democracy, condemning the arrest of a democratically-elected majority party, incidentally pro-west, and calling for an end to repressive measures and bloodshed. ... but we have chosen not to intervene, even morally, on the grounds that the conflict, in which unfortunately the overworked term genocide is applicable, is purely internal matter of a soverign state. Private Americans have expressed disgust. We, as professional civil servants, express our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies redirected." (ibid, p. 45)

Blood was recalled from his post, and "in late April 1971, at the very height of the mass murders, Kissinger sent a message to Pakistan's General Yahya Khan, thanking him for his "delicacy and tact". (ibid, p. 45)

The author who is well known to us has personal knowledge of these events, and wishes to remain anonymous.

[On Aug. 17, their ideology culminated in a series of nearly 500 bomb blasts that shook the nation and killed three people. . . .

The rise of JMB, observers say, shows how homegrown militancy, invigorated by foreign funds and leadership radicalized in Afghanistan, has flourished here because of growing economic inequalities and acrimonious politics that have crippled the functioning of democracy. . . .

Another JMB leader, Muhammad Asadullah Al-Galib, who was arrested after the February crackdown, is alleged by intelligence agencies to have received large funding from the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), a Kuwait-based organization. In 2002, the US State Department blacklisted some RIHS offices, citing their support of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. RIHS and Galib's organization have reportedly constructed over 1,000 mosques across Bangladesh and 10 madrassahs.--David Montero, "How extremism came to Bangladesh," Christian Science Monitor, September 7, 2006]

[Sheikh Hasina has been charged with murder for allegedly masterminding the deaths of four supporters of a rival party during Dhaka unrest in October.--"Bangladesh issues ex-PM warrant," BBC News, April 22, 2007]

"Tajuddin Ahmad: An Inspiration for Leaders of Tomorrow," July 2008

[A landmark election has swept former Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina back to power--Anis Ahmed, "Battered Bangladesh sees some hope in vote results," BBC News, December 31, 2008]

[What is certain is that the BDR putsch had grand religious and geopolitical causes which are far more profound than the relative trifle of a salary raise.--Sreeram Chaulia, "Power play behind Bangladesh's mutiny," March 3, 2009]

back button