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How Atia Mahal Feeds Begum Paras

March 31, 2017

Terrorists’ hold-up and special operations carried out by anti-terror units disrupt daily activities of ordinary Bangladeshis in some parts of Bangladesh. Both parties incur significant casualties.

After the BDR mutiny, law-enforcement agencies suffered another big loss: death of the intelligence chief of RAB Lt Col Azad and two Police officers.

Soon after the Atia Mahal incident, a politician hailed from Narayanganj appeared to be a soothsayer. This ruling party lawmaker gave exclusive interview to a local online news site where he forewarned about the resurgence of terror acts with unimaginable consequences. He even named two spots where Police later located militant hideouts.

Coincidentally, the hideouts are located in districts where by poll and municipal election have recently been held. BNP retained the mayoral position in Comilla City Corporation.

Any anti-terror operation might make the voters afraid, so Election Commission instructed the law-enforcement agencies to postpone all operations till voting was over.

Since the attack on RAB outpost in Savar , situation has quickly spiraled out of control. Ordinary people, law-enforcement personnel, politicians—- all fell victim of terror acts and anti-terror drives.

Few points need to be taken into account before we search reasons behind this latest spat of terror incidents.

First, Awami League govt is an ally of Saudi Arabia-led coalition of war on terror.

Second, it refused to send combat troops to war-torn Iraq where ISIL now holds sway.

Third, it reiterated its commitment towards Palestinian cause in the Middle East.

Fourth, it dropped the uniform education policy and the women empowerment policy that irked the platform of the Islamists. It even submitted to the Islamists’ demands and brought changes to the textbooks.

Fifth, Islamists’ financial institutions grew overwhelmingly under its tenure and AL govt approved investment proposals from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two biggest patrons of Wahabi ideology.

However, AL kept its electoral promise by continuing war crimes trial. But at the same time it allowed to grow war criminals’ financial institutions.

On the other hand, it subdued the main opposition party BNP through detention and exile of its activists.

It muzzled the press by introducing repressive laws.

It also keeps the Armed Forces content by starting massive arms procurement program and doling out lucrative business deals. Recently, it purchased two Chinese-made subs for Bangladesh Navy.

This procurement causes concerns in Delhi Defense establishment and makes it come out with $500 million defense deal in a bid to reach out Bangladesh.

From the above discussion it is evident that Awami League is  not at odds with the Islamists and the Army.

This piece is not about to find out conflict of strategic interests between two neighbors; rather it aims to explore political economy of turbulence created by political violence and terrorism.

Table IFF and Political Turbulence

Global Financial Integrity’s latest report indicated that nearly $55 billion had been laundered abroad from Bangladesh in a decade. The highest illicit flow, $9 billion, took place in 2013. It was the year before 2014 general election and marked by unwarranted violence. Political violence took up lives of rival political activists and damaged properties. 504 people were killed and 24,176 people were injured in that year’s political violence. Evidently, illicit money transfer has some sort of connection with fear and uncertainty.
Casualties of Political Violence

IFF

IFF


If one looks closely the GFI report, then he will notice that other big capital flight occurred in 2009, 2008, 2006 and 2005. They are either election years or the years preceded elections. In 2005, JMB, a banned terror outfit , staged a serial bomb blast all across Bangladesh. During the same year, political violence claimed 310 lives and the following year 374 lives and making a total casualty of 21, 639.

After the 2009 general election, 251 were killed and 15,559 were injured in political violence. In the same year, $6.1 billion was laundered abroad.

If we run a correlation between IFF and political turbulence in a statistical software, then we will see there is a positive correlation between the two.The factors that affect political stability have also influence on clandestine capital transfer.

IFF and Political Violence

Illicit Financial Flow and Political Violence


As bi-partisan democracy is waning in Bangladesh, terrorists have emerged as  fearmongers, making heavy dent in economy.

Bangladesh has recently set its apparel export goal: by 2030  it wants to reach $50 billion mark. Holey Artisan Bakery attack and Rana Plaza debacle forced its clients to review their decision to do business as usual in this country. This latest spat of terror incidents will add salt to that.

The 8-year-long rule of this regime gave birth to a class of nouveau riche and appears to be boon for the corrupts and the cronies. There is unease among this class to invest their black money in this country. They always seek opportunity to salt away a great portion of this wealth. This recent terror incident will induce them to launder their black money abroad and it will hold back true investors from implementing their scheduled projects.

The profiles of the killed or abducted terrorists —- Nibras, Tamim , Redwanul—- indicate they all have connections with the countries where our black money finds sanctuary.

Keeping aside the political economy of turbulence created by terrorism, addressing other issues will be a half-hearted effort in the fight against terrorism. To curb terrorism, acknowledging its multidimensional aspects is a must.

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