The militant outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir is slowly gaining ground and is currently the strongest force in anti-state activities in Bangladesh. The outfit has been banned here since 2009.
The organisation is very active on university campuses, has strong national and international links, and is standing strong at a time when other major Islamic outfits are suffering from leadership problems.
The views came yesterday at the launching ceremony of a Bangladesh Enterprise Institute study on ‘The State of Terrorism in Bangladesh, 2009-10’. BEI organised the programme at its office in the city.
While discussing the state of terrorism activities in the country, senior security officials, researchers, writers and diplomats agreed that Hizb ut-Tahrir is a matter of big concern for the nation.
“Of all the Islamic outfits, Hizb ut-Tahrir is currently the biggest threat,” said Col TM Jobaer, Director of National Security Intelligence (NSI).
“The organisation is strong because it has a strong international agenda — it wants to establish a Khilafat in many countries,” he said.
The BEI study interviewed 1,214 citizens from different age groups and professions.
Over 80 percent of them agreed that terrorism is a threat to national security; and 68 percent said that wrong interpretations of Islam are a root cause of terrorism in the country.
Almost half of the respondents identified poor illiteracy and poverty as major reasons behind terrorism, while some 44 percent identified politicisation of Islam and 40 percent pointed at international terrorism as the root cause.
Around 33 percent of the respondents believe that Bangladesh is still a safe country to live in. But some 22 percent said the country is gradually becoming unsafe.
One in five respondents said they have “experienced” terrorism and criminal related activities.
Wing Commander Zakir Hassan, director of the Air Wing of Rapid Action Battalion, said militant activities in the country are “under control”. But he agreed that Hizb ut-Tahrir is a point of “big concern”.
“Their movements are very sophisticated, and their members are highly educated and motivated. They hold high positions in the society. You cannot deal with them in the same way you deal with others,” he said.
The organisation has its own constitution, educational and economic policies; it has the ability to exploit intellectual, economic and political opportunities. It also has a strong presence around educational hubs particularly on university campuses, the speakers said.
Their publications and ideologies should be studied very closely to produce a “counter ideology”, they added.
BEI President Farooq Sobhan, Danish Ambassador in Dhaka Svend Olling and BEI research director Faiz Sobhan were among the speakers.