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Escalation of terrorist attacks
Syed Jamaluddin

          The incident of bomb blasts at courts in Chandpur, Laxmipur and Chittagong on 3-10-05 left two people killed and 38 others, including a district judge and a policeman, injured. Some hand-written leaflets of the Jamaatul Mujahideen(JMB), calling for establishing Islamic rule in the country, were found at the Chandpur blast site. Two bombers held from the Chandpur blast site and one from Laxmipur said that they were assigned by JMB to carry out the bombings. People present in the courtroom caught three suspects while police later arrested three others.
Before the memories of August 17 bombings across the country could fade away, the bombers did strike again. The court buildings in Chittagong, Chandpur and Laxmipur were the targets with at least two persons dead and many more injured. After the August blasts, the government launched a vigorous campaign to arrest the criminals. The government seemed to be committed to contain the wave of terrorism across the country. But the attacks of early October at the heart of administrative seats have confirmed that vulnerability exists.
It was encouraging that the terrorists were caught by the police and the local people. It was expected that vital information would come out and the law enforcers would be in a position to identify the entire network behind the attacks. The government has to intensify the drive against terrorism. They will get the support of all and sundry in this endeavour Concentration is needed for eliminating the menace. It is time for the government to hit back hard. The business leaders expressed the view that these blasts would have the most undesirable impact on the business community, especially among foreign investors.
The response to the August incidents, the government's response was timely and determined. The network of the bombers and their likely patrons were believed to be identified. Many of them were caught by the police with their bomb-making materials. A sense of relief was returning to people's minds. But still there was possibility of more blasts.
The fresh incidents of bomb blasts in several places raised doubts about how far the terrorist network has been decommissioned. It appeared that the perpetrators were still capable of challenging the authorities. The investment climate of the country has shown marked improvement for quite sometime. Many potential investment proposals appeared in the pipeline. But there is every danger of undermining this attractiveness if the bombing incidents keep on repeating.
It is imperative for the government and the law enforcing agencies to conduct their operations more successfully. They have to further consolidate their campaign against the terrorists.
Their trial has also to be expedited. When the newly elected office bearers of FBCCI called on the Prime Minister, she assured them of the government's commitment to arrest the culprits in the recent bomb blasts. The Prime Minister said that the government has taken strong security measures to ensure safety of the businessmen on the eve of the upcoming festivals
The Prime Minister in her address to the nation on10-10-05 said that initiative had been taken to tackle the bombers with a firm hand. Many have already been arrested. The government now knows the identity of bombers. It has also been possible to identify the main schemers. She said that the government would be able to eliminate the bombing-related terrorism. There was no scope for religious terrorism in Bangladesh, she observed.
All the cases filed in connection with the August 17 countrywide blasts would be brought under the speedy trial tribunal and trials should begin soon. State Minister for Home Affairs hoped that results would come within the next few months. A new law on anti-terrorism was in the process of being framed. Thus it appears that the government is serious about the trial of those involved in serial bomb blasts. People will be happy to see that the culprits are being tried and punished. Law should be taking its own course.
The perpetrators challenged the existing system of our statecraft and announced their intension to impose their values on us. Some intellectuals are arguing that whoever masterminded August 17 attacks did so with a purpose. They are saying that there is a nexus between the government and the militants. Therefore, not much can be expected from the government. They are trying to give it a political colour instead of helping the government in taking action against the militants. So long they have been shouting for action against the militants. Now that the government is pursuing the matter seriously by arresting and giving charge sheet against them, they are changing their stance and saying that not much will happen.
The intellectuals are also saying that the government cannot do anything. It is the people who can resist the onslaught on our values. But what is the mechanism of involving the people? People have given the mandate to this government to run the country for five years. Therefore, the citizens of this country should fight terrorism under the leadership of this government. The so-called intellectuals are trying to play a political game and mislead the people.
The speedy trial tribunal judge of Sylhet Division was injured when unknown miscreants hurled a home made bomb at him just before iftar on 18-10-05. Pedestrians held a young man suspecting his involvement in the bomb attack. He was handed over to the police. The bomber Akhter Hossain was caught.
Media reports predicted that there could be more attacks on judicial officers and some political figures before the SAARC summit. Although nothing happened during the summit, outlawed Islamist outfit Jamaatul Mujahideen killed two senior assistant judges and wounded three people in a suicide bomb attack in Jhalakathi immediately after the SAARC summit. Police arrested the bomber who was a member of the JMB suicide squad. The terrorists see the judiciary as the barrier to establishing Islamic rules Police has been directed to submit a charge-sheet soon in this case. This underscores that the security situation in the country is not under control and terrorists can carry out such attacks. They can pick and choose the time, date and venue of their attacks with impunity. The terrorists must be fought with all we have. Leader of the opposition said that the militants are back in action after getting green signal from the coalition government.
There is a view that the government was not alert enough to contain the terrorists. The government is looking at the problem from the point of view of party interests. Another view is that the forces that are acting against the government from behind are engaging the field level operatives to carry out bomb attacks. Their purpose is to make the government unpopular before the next election. Therefore more attacks will take place before the next election.
No body will believe that the terrorists are capable enough to establish Islamic rule in Bangladesh, but they can damage the reputation of the government which will be advantageous for the anti-government forces. Suicide squad has added a new dimension to terrorism in the country. The government appears to be worried about this new phenomenon.
International donors expressed deep concern over the growing incidence of terrorism and violence. They urged the government to take appropriate measures against terrorism and violence to ensure investment-friendly atmosphere, which is vital for making the poverty reduction strategy a success. Killing of judges is a bad signal for the investors. Success of the terrorists will undermine the various achievements and success stories of the government.
The government must do everything to get at the masterminds and brains behind the extremists and destroy their network and sources of support. It has been suggested that the government and the opposition may work jointly to face the terrorists.
But the mainstream opposition has blamed the government for terrorist attacks. They are not in a mood to cooperate with the government. People are looking up to the government to do the needful and the government has to take full responsibility to deal with the situation with the cooperation of the people.
The writer is former economic minister of Bangladesh mission to UN in Geneva


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