The Daesh problem

Ayaz Ahmed

With its phenomenal battlefield successes in the Middle East, Daesh has attracted an abundant supply of jihadi fighters inside Afghanistan, thus making significant inroads into this strife-torn country. According to some reports, the terror outfit has gained adequate areas for establishing itself in the provinces of Nangarhar, Paktika, Nooristan and Badakhan.

With its phenomenal battlefield successes in the Middle East, Daesh has attracted an abundant supply of jihadi fighters inside Afghanistan, thus making significant inroads into this strife-torn country. According to some reports, the terror outfit has gained adequate areas for establishing itself in the provinces of Nangarhar, Paktika, Nooristan and Badakhan.

From these provinces, it continues to conduct its terror attacks on government installations, organises clashes with the Taliban and abducts members of the Hazara community. On April 22, 2015, it claimed responsibility for a deadly blast that rocked the bustling town of Jalalabad – killing more than 40 people.

There are also reports that Daesh has penetrated even the high-ranking Afghan government officials. Notably, one Daesh supporter recently arrested by the Afghan agencies was engineer Mohammad Khan, the first adviser and a close friend of Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

The security forces of Afghanistan are largely toothless and badly-equipped to root out the terror group. Therefore, the spectre of Daesh today poses the severest threat to the fragile security of conflict-torn Afghanistan.

In the recent well-organised attacks on the Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant of Dhaka, six heavily-armed and well-educated fighters of Daesh staged a 12-hour night siege in the cafe, killing at least 21 people. Among the dead were nine Italians, seven Japanese, an American, an Indian and two Bangladeshi Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and naval commandos. The attacks mounted by Daesh’s six fighters were so ferocious and severe that the Bangladeshi government had to deploy Special Forces to counter the assaults.

Sheikh Hasina, the incumbent prime minister of Bangladesh, has threateningly provided Daesh with a fertile ground by her politics of blatant victimisation of the opposition and Islamists. She has continued to hang and persecute the main leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). Such policies of political vendetta have dangerously radicalised a raft of highly educated youth in the country, who have joined Daesh in order to take revenge on the government of the Awami League (AL).

At present, the terror outfit has a good number of staunch sympathisers and hotbeds inside Bangladesh to radicalise and indoctrinate the disillusioned youth of the country so as to carry out its nefarious designs of bloodletting and terror. Therefore, a string of deadly terror attacks in Bangladesh may be in the offing.

It is a pity that the AL government has thus far denied the existence of Daesh in the country while blaming the JI and BNP for attacks. That does not bode well for the long-term security of this developing country in the near future.

Ominously, Daesh has found a large number of sympathisers in Pakistan as well. When the TTP was in a shambles due to its internal rifts and Operation Zarb-e-Azb, some of its top commanders pledged allegiance to Daesh chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. These commanders were former TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid, Hafiz Saeed Khan who operated from the Orakzai Agency; Hafiz Daulat Khan who was TTP commander in the Kurram Agency; Maulana Gul Zaman who was controlling the affairs in the Khyber Agency; Mufti Hassan who was the TTP commander for Peshawar and Khalid Mansoor who was responsible for Hangu.

In addition to this, TTP commander from Bajaur Maulana Abu Bakar, his deputy Qari Zahid, and affiliates, commanders, fighters, religious advisors etc have accepted Al-Baghdadi as their caliph. These commanders will be quite helpful for Daesh because they know the ground realities, have a close rapport with the locals, have connections with the Afghan Taliban and are aware of the Pakistan Army’s moves.

In October last year, some Uzbek fighters from an Al-Qaeda-linked militant organisation threw their support behind Daesh. A top leader for the IMU, an ally of the Taliban mainly based in Pakistan’s tribal belt since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, announced its backing for Daesh. The support of the Taliban and Central Asian terror groups based in our war-torn tribal areas has further exacerbated the nature of terrorism and militancy.

In December 2015, around 20 men, women and children connected with a Lahore-based Islamic centre left the country to join Daesh in Syria. Apart from this, graffiti in favour of the terror outfit has repeatedly appeared in many cities across the country. All this is a clarion call for Pakistan to take stringent measures to stamp out the militant group before it launches a series of attacks in the country.

Daesh is also relentlessly trying to cultivate terror in India. The communal and anti-Muslim policies of the right-wing government of BJP under Prime Minster Narendra Modi have invited the militant group to recruit radicalised Muslims throughout India. In January this year, Delhi police arrested four members of Daesh who were planning a terrorist attack ahead of Indian Republic Day. In July, Daesh said that it was planning to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed in riots in the state of Gujarat and elsewhere.

India’s top security agency has lately arrested two more suspected members of the notorious terror group in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. After Bangladesh, Daesh may attack India anytime in the foreseeable future.

The lurking threat posed by Daesh is rather serious for the region. To effectively counter the terror of this militant outfit, all the regional countries should mend their ties with one another and forge a strong alliance to root it out, especially from Afghanistan.

The AL government in Bangladesh must stop suppressing the leaders of both the JI and the BNP. Moreover, the current Indian government should shun discriminatory and repressive policies against its Muslim population in order to impede Muslims being indoctrinated by Daesh.

For its part, Pakistan needs to crack down against all outlawed militant outfits, and reform its police and criminal justice system so as to block Daesh from gaining more supporters in the country.

The writer is editor of The Asia Watch.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/138473-The-Daesh-problem

 

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