Perspectives on Pakistan
Bangladeshi group fingered for Indian serial blasts linked to Osama
In the absence of any claims, and a denial of involvement by the main local separatist group, the Indian media is are starting to point the finger at a Bangladeshi militant Islamist group for Thursday’s multiple bombings that left 65 left dead and more than 300 wounded in Assam state.
If it is indeed the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami (HuJi) Bangladesh that orchestrated one of the most deadly attacks in the far flung northeast state, then it could end up hardening the mood in India against not just Bangladesh, but also once again against Pakistan.
For the group, which was formed in the early 1990s to establish Islamic rule in Bangladesh, is an organisation with tentacles running all the way to Afghanistan and to Osama bin Laden and in so doing, is seen as linked with Pakistani militant groups, some of whom have enjoyed backing in the past from the Inter-Services Intelligence.
In March this year, the U.S. State Department designated the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami as a “foreign terrorist organization”, subjecting it to U.S. financial sanctions. It said the group’s leader had signed a 1998 fatwa sponsored by bin Laden that “declared American civilians to be legitimate targets for attack”.
The designation meant that any property and assets held by the group in the United States would be frozen. It also made it illegal for people subject to U.S. jurisdiction to provide material support to the group.
The group, like so many others before it, came into the being in the afterglow of the mujahideen victory over the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Its members were volunteers who had returned from Afghanistan after fighting alongside the mujahideen. Inspired by bin Laden and the Taliban, they spearheaded the fundamentalist movement in Bangladesh.
Thursday is not the first time the HuJi-B has been named for an attack in India. In May, Indian intelligence said the group might have been behind a similar set of bombings, this time in the tourist city of Jaipur. HuJI-B fighters are recruited from madrasas in Bangladesh and are trained in al Qaeda and Taliban camps Pakistan and Afghanistan, The Long War Journal reports.
It says the Bangladeshi group plays a crucial role in training militants from southern Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Brunei and providing manpower for al Qaeda’s affiliates in Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Chechnya.
So how will the latest attacks play out in the delicate diplomatic dance between India and Pakistan ? Islamabad has joined a host of nations to condemn the blasts, and so far nobody in India has yet pointed a finger, although the knives are out for the government.
Leader of the opposition Lal Krishna Advani said the blasts were yet another proof of the government’s inability to tackle militancy. With elections barely months away, Advani and other members of his Hindu nationalist party are almost certain to turn up the heat on national security and by extension India’s dodgy neighbourhood – Pakistan to the west, and increasingly Bangladesh in the east.