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Caught in the Act

October 28, 2012

A Bangladeshi student named Kazi Rezwanul Islam Nafis was detained by FBI while he was trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of America. From the news reports, it is clear that undercover FBI agents worked with him to unearth his motives and supplied him fake explosives to execute his plan.

The family as well as the local media portrayed him as a victim of FBI sting operation. But FBI said he even recorded a video before carrying out the attempted attack.

It is highly likely that Nafis is going to spend significant years of his life in prison. But how did this would-be Jihadist make his way all the way to New York? Yes,he had a student visa. How did he get that student visa? Where did he receive his education? Was he a student at all?

Following this incident, there are growing concerns over any possible change in the student visa policy among the true students, scholars, researchers who want to study in USA.

There are some rackets operating in Bangladesh who take advantage in ‘the leakages’ exist in the procedure of foreign embassies. In fact, police in this week arrested three Libyan nationals for being involved in sending people abroad illegally. One of them was a Libyan Embassy staff. Earlier, Police unearthed and confiscated goods worth millions of Bangladeshi Taka from local businessmen and found that those goods were imported by a North Korean and an Iraqi diplomat under the auspices of diplomatic norm.

Awkward location of US embassy resource center should also be taken into account. Until the opening of Edward M Kennedy (EMK) Center, US embassy’s sole resource center Archer K. Blood American Center Library is located in a remote corner of Dhaka, next to the memorial center of a Paki collaborator of 1971. True and aspiring students and scholars found it difficult to use this useful resource center. Only recently US embassy opened EMK resource center in Dhanmondi of Dhaka.

What we know from the media that Nafis had received his education from one of Dhaka’s elegant secondary schools. His father is a vice president of a local commercial Bank. He went to North South University, where Islamist groups like Hizb ut Tahrir and Jamaat-e-Islami hold sway. Having studied for around two years, Nafis planned to go to USA

The North South University is situated in the green zone of Dhaka and few hundred meters away from the US embassy. In recent years, law enforcement agencies arrested several teachers and students of this university for having link with the banned Islamist outfit Hizb ut Tahrir. The Jamaat-e-Islami managed to get a firm grip on the trustee board of management committee. One of the board members was a bureaucrat and also held several management committee posts in different Jamaat funded organizations in the past. The incumbent chairman of the university briefly flirted with politics and is the owner of a beverage company that brands its product as an ‘Islamic Cola’

It is important to add few lines about the Jamaat-e-Islami for readers who have little knowledge on this organization. Jamaat-e-Islami is an ideological cousin of Egypt’s Ikhwanul Muslimin, widely known as Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, Brothehood leader Syed Qutub was an admirer and avid reader of Jamaat-e-Islami ideologue Maududi’s works. He was deeply influenced by Maududi who preached to use Jihad to establish Islamic state. Both these extremist organizations have some unique financial institutions. Jamaat-e-Islami’s financial institution Islami Bank Bangladesh was started its operation in Bangladesh based on an abortive Brotherhood financial venture in Egypt. Even the US authorities found evidence of its terror financing activities

This Nafis terror plot also restarts the debate on the private universities of Bangladesh. Private University Act was introduced in 1922. Since then private universities flourished in Bangladesh. The primary objective was to offer quality education to students who want to study abroad. Later profit motive dominated over the novel cause. Islamist also invested heavily in this sector as it provides a steady stream of revenue and works as a recruiting center.

As long as Jamaat-e-Islami and groups like Hizb ut Tahrir remain active in Bangladeshi politics, production rate of would-be Jihadist will continue to increase.

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