Bangladesh’s growing internet usage carries new risk of extremism

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The surge in Internet usage and online communication during the Covid-19 pandemic has only helped the global terror outfits, which have used the medium to the fullest to spread their radical messages…writes MAHUA VENKATESH

Bangladesh is looking to tighten its security measures in the cyber space to address the hydra headed problem of radicalism. While the South Asian nation has not witnessed any major incidents of violence since the gruesome Holy Artisan Bakery incident in 2016, authorities said that threats are on the rise with the world opening up in the post Covid phase.

The surge in Internet usage and online communication during the Covid-19 pandemic has only helped the global terror outfits, which have used the medium to the fullest to spread their radical messages, finance their arms in different regions and even recruit.

Shafqat Munir, head of Bangladesh Centre for Terrorism Research and senior research fellow at Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies has recently said that there has been a fresh “recruitment and reconsolidation drive by these groups.”

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in a report published in June highlighted that despite the decline in the number of terrorist incidents since 2016, Islamist groups continue to operate, recruit, and carry out small-scale attacks while aspiring to perpetrate greater violence.

“Radical elements – not just in Bangladesh but even in India – continue to play an active role and their main aim is to destabilise the situation especially at this crucial juncture when the South Asian region needs better cooperation and connectivity to revive economic growth after being jolted by the (Covid) pandemic,” said Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, retired Air Force Officer in Bangladesh, who is now a geopolitical analyst.

Sources said that the countries in the region must have a joint action plan and information sharing mechanism to be able to address the issue.

Recently, Major General (Retd) ANM Muniruzzaman, President of Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) has also underlined the need to put in place a well chalked out comprehensive strategy to fight extremist elements in the country.

“It is very important for us to remember that the absence of a successful terror attack does not mean the absence of terrorism, there is no substitute for vigilance and preparedness. We must be prepared at all times to counter the threat of terrorism and violent extremism. Society has a big role to play in this,” Dhaka-based Business Standard quoted Munir, head of Bangladesh Centre for Terrorism Research and senior research fellow at Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies as saying.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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