Leading the Way

Chris Blackburn

Chris Blackburn

Chris Blackburn is a political analyst and writer based in the UK. He worked as a junior team member for the US National Intelligence Conference and Exposition (Intelcon 2005), which was organised by Slade Gorton and Jamie Gorelick; who were both members of the US National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission).

Sheikh Hasina is showing other governments how to tackle extremism.

Over the past few months Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, has been lauded by international politicians for her role in tackling extremism. Her forthright and courageous effort to tackle the ideology of radical Islamism and to engage the acute threat of militancy in Bangladesh has been highly effective. It has won her admirers in governments across the world.

US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, contacted Sheikh Hasina to tell her how her leadership and role in tackling extremism has won plaudits within the US government. The UK Parliament has also recently award her with the Diversity Award, which has shown how her courage on climate change and tackling extremism head on has also won backing in London.

There are other countries which have also been closely watching Bangladesh; they are India, China, Russia, Canada and Australia. Sheikh Hasina is fast becoming a global leader. There are certainly echoes of Margaret Thatcher in Hasina they both share the need to confront totalitarian ideologies head on, although the two ladies are oceans apart both in geography and political ideology. Hasina being a social democrat and Thatcher a neoconservative who once professed there was, “no such thing as society.” However, Hasina is fast becoming a heroine for the Conservative-led coalition government because Bangladesh is becoming the key to the UK government’s new counter-terrorism strategy.

The global struggle against extremism and jihadi violence has at times looked to be rudderless and leaderless. The lack of any clear strategy on an international level has caused problems. Countries have become weak links in the struggle. Bangladesh was unfortunately in this category a few years ago. It was seen to be soft on terrorism. Bangladesh certainly wasn’t alone. There was Londonistan, the derisory knick-name given by foreign security officials towards the British capital because it was known to be the base for the global operations of radical Islamist groups. London was still tagged by this moniker even after Tony Blair had sworn allegiance with the US to tackle global extremism.

Blair thought he could tame radical Islamism with tea at Downing Street while being trigger happy abroad, but it was a serious miscalculation- even schizophrenic. He guessed that British support for Islamism since the Cold War would help to bring the revolutionaries back into compromise, back into the system. The divide between Jihadi groups and Islamists is wafer thin. As political analysts and country specialists try to create taxonomies of political Islam and Jihadi groups they always miss the ties between the violent and the supposedly non-violent movements. They often shove it in the appendix or don’t like to talk about it.

Bob Lambert, a former Counter-Terrorism expert with the Metropolitan Police is widely seen as one of those who appeased radical Islamism in the UK. He believes he has a sophisticated strategy of divide and conquer to counter jihadi violence. He failed to see that Abu Hamza al-Masri, the hooked preacher of jihad was a cartoon jihadi, although very dangerous, he was seen as a loud mouth who attracted way too much attention to himself to be genuinely effective. Lambert thinks that we should support groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat as a bulwark against al-Qaeda and the Salafists. However, Lambert didn’t receive very good intelligence. Jamaat and the Muslim Brothers have strong historical and financial connections to the jihadi international. The Islamists vs. Salafist debate was false.

The United States vs. Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi case is the prime example of the duplicity of Islamists. Using the freedom and liberty of democracy to plot murder abroad while also praying on our ignorance and support for the protection of minorities. These movements have often used terrorism when it suited them, almost like Fatah did with Black September. It allows plausible deniability.

Terrorism experts and those that specialise in terroris financing tell completely different stories because they look at the fundraising and training of terrorist organisations without being influenced by the subtle differences of different miltant groups or the personality clashes. When looking at terrorism through a purely non-political organisational model we see that jihadi groups wouldn’t exist without the direct and in-direct help from supposedly non-violent Islamists or state sponsorship. Al-Qaeda has become a master class in plausible deniability.

Sheikh Hasina has declared war on Mawdudi’s legacy in South Asia; she has declared war on the ideology and the violence which comes from it. Benazir Bhutto was supposed to have been this figure who would lead South Asia out of the darkness, however her life was brutally shortened. Bhutto, however, had a chequered past with supporting the Taliban and other groups when she saw fit. It’s pointless trying to whitewash history. This duplicity is not present in Sheikh Hasina’s Bangladesh nor is jihad woven into the Bangladeshi society. It’s why the Bangladeshis are seizing the initiative and other governments are beginning to follow their lead.

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Chris Blackburn is a political analyst and writer based in the UK. He worked as a junior team member for the US National Intelligence Conference and Exposition (Intelcon 2005), which was organised by Slade Gorton and Jamie Gorelick; who were both members of the US National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission). He then went on to become a track leader for the Intelligence Summit 2006, which focused on the deteriorating security situation in Bangladesh and South Asia. Chris has briefed journalists on extremist movements and terrorism. He has also worked with productions teams from BBC’s Panorama and Channel 4’s Dispatches. He has also written for David Horowitz’s Frontpagemag.com, The Spittoon, The Weekly Durdesh and others.


8 Responses to “Leading the Way”

  1. Feroze

    I don’t know who this Chris Blackburn is – more like a CIA operative on a mission of Bushite Crusade – his analysis and analogy of the events in Bangladesh and around is a pure hogwash, bereft of reality or principle. His parallelism of the PM with that of Thatcher is laughable when our PM’s hand is so much dipped into fresh blood of opposition and BDR force.

    Once again the good talk of a white man is all self serving and the civility of white man is only skin-deep – Chris Blackburn presents a perfect match. In their own country they preach freedom of expression and religion and in the same breath they laud third world repressive regimes for suffocating opposition. They preach rule of law for their civil society and yet praise gunning down free expression in the third world to suite their vision of world dominance. The imperialist Blackburn could hardly cover up his ill motives.

    I am not a PM basher – it’s her 2 year deeds speak volume. She is a symbol of free-expression killer and a iron-fist opposition murderer. How many innocent journalists/political leaders have been put behind the bars since she came to power? And then there is the clown judiciary in the country – all appointed by the ruling party – churning out wanton verdicts on anything and everything in the society – marriage, dress code, freedom of expression, constitutional amendments, and journalist freedom like a coin-operated machine – anything you like them to pass on their “judgments”.

    All these are happening while the country is burning under dissent and burden of lawlessness, anarchy, police-state rule, unprecedented syndicates of price gouging, all-out corruption, crumbling infrastructure and almost total collapse of good governance. There is an orgy of renaming anything and everything in the country after her father/mother – the streets, buildings, airports, institution and perhaps rails, boats, fruits, cars, trucks, food etc.

    Pun aside, there is little no hope of any development in the country since the ruling party came into power. Their war is against the opposition at whatever cost and supplanting every government employee with their party members – be that judiciary, administration, police, military. That’s where all their energy has been concentrated.

    Today Bangladesh has become a true satellite of India – all major decisions are made-in-India. This is Indira Ghandhi’s dream come true. Thus we have totally spine-less and half dull Interior and foreign ministers taking every orders from New Delhi. The country has no product or merchandise that’s not originated in India.

    This is part of Pax Americana – building a Indian bulwark against Chinese future expansion. Today America has only one formidable foe – that’s China. Thus letting India expand its tentacles all around would help America become even more powerful. This is similar to the ruling party’s modus operandi of letting their party hooligans thrive on tenders, bribes, expropriation of wealth. American wants to live and let its party people live too.

    If history has any lesson then there were USSR, British and French colonialism, Hitler, Mussolini, the Romans, Nimrod, Pharaohs. They are just names for us to remember, just as will be America, Britain, PM Hasina.

  2. murad

    US should not fear the Islamic Political parties who are operating democratically. Jammat e Islami & Muslim Brotherhood have experiance to work with secular perliament and give space to other secular parties as well.
    WE expect Internationally commounity to see the voices of these Islamic Parties who actually work democratically.

  3. Khondkar A Saleque

    PM Hasina is a mere mortal.She is not an angel or a devil.Like other mortal she has success and failures.But among the state leaders of Bangladesh she has made more milestone achievements .Vraious irregularities, corruption , misgovernace accumulated over the years have now created crisis in many areas.PM Hasina took over almost fragile economy , dyfunctional energy sector , highly volatile commodity market in 2009. She had to contain discontent in her own party also.In two years she had many sucess yet few failures. Deteriorating law and order situation, failure to control price spirals of essentails,failure to bring visible improvement of energy crisis,sahre market scam are her failures. But she is moving along reform plans, initiated several importnat infrastructure projects, initaited war criminal trials. She has successfuly contained terrorsist avalanche, normalised relations with India , the major neibhour.
    One reader here has alleged that all decisions are taken from India. We do not understand whether he can provide credible evidences.
    Ruling Bangladesh is not an easy task. Bangladesh has to have good friendly relations with India which surrounds us from almost three directions. India is super power and major economy.All major world economy USA, Russia, China are setting up better relations with India. Can a tiny country like BBangladesh survive creating uneasy hositility with India? Bangladesh has started getting good impacts of better relations with India.
    We believe PM Hasina has limitations .She has already started regform force to change Bangladesh for the better .The path is not bed of roses.We hope she will appreciate her limitations and will soon make visible changes.

  4. Feroze

    BNP and Awami League as ruling parties have become liability for Bangladesh. They are at par in corruption, greed, inefficiency, violence and moral bankruptcy. Neither of them are part of a solution; they are just another problem in the numerous chains of endemic problem in Bangladesh.

    Having good relation with is strategic necessity but being enslaved by India is another. When the PM’s personal security is maintained by Indian nationals, when the country’s bravest soldiers were murdered by Indian plan, when our border security is washed down to let Indian goods inundate and destroy our industries, when our foreign and interior ministerial decisions are all-made-in-India – we got to think – did we liberate Bangladesh from Pakistan to be enslaved by India?

    The share of daunted public administration is nothing new either for Awami League or BNP – that remained and will remain a challenge for any administration – but that’s part of the equation of being successful or failure. It’s not a pretext of willful negligence, bad governance, rampant corruption, moral decay, repression of free expression, burning of disliked ideological documents, enslaving judiciary, planting party men in all administrations, terrorizing opposition or renaming every brick with family names.

    Let’s make it amply clear – the constitution of a country is a document to be respected and reflected upon. It’s not like PM Hasina’s last name that gets changed as her wish. The constitutional amendments were done after much deliberation to reflect people faith, heritage and culture and not to be whisked out at Indian finger point. We have made ourselves a nation of clowns and jokers.

    The ruling party must know who they are ruling and respect the majority faith, heritage, belief. If the majority population is made to feel like a minority then the counter-balance will come as a tidal wave and they will sure be swept aside. Today’s Bangladesh has become a virtual Indian-domicile ruled country – from business to NGOs to media – all have become a true color of India.

    If this trend continues it won’t be too long until the heroic people of Bangladesh take up arms again – this time against Indian infiltration of our beloved land.

  5. Khondkar A Saleque

    We like to disagree with what is being stated here. From our deep association with liberation war we do belive Banglladesh should neither have pro Indian or pro Pakistani attitudes.It is not true that all policies of Bangladesh is now dictated by India. It is not true that India planned BDR killing at Peelkhana. It is not true that PM security is provided by Indian Nationals. These are mere propaganda by agents of War Criminals and anti liberation force.
    We do believe PM Hasina is being misguided by some opportunist advisors and being dragged into some controversy .But BAL which she leads is a pro Bangladesh democratic party.It is created by Bangladeshi believers.It is for Bangladesh, of Bangladesh. Please do not try to distract readers attention telling issues which can not be supported by credible evidences. Can you produce evidence that BDR killing was plotted by India?

  6. Feroze

    There is an endemic problem with A Leaguers – anything is said against them is “anti-liberations” and by the “war criminals”. The same attitude “you are either wit us or against us”. This extreme xenophobic party mentality runs in the veins of AL – also was propagated by Bangabandhu even after he banished the ever-cherished democracy through the formation of notorious Bakshal and his private-army called Rakkhi Bahini. No one has the agency of patriotism. Just because AL was the first one to call for liberation does not guarantee them more legitimacy than anyone ever supported and participated in the war of liberation – either by word or by action.

    More than ever we all to understand we are a single family-nation. The war of liberation is one event that shaped our thoughts and action for the future that needs everyone’s heart and minds to reach its culmination. That also means opening our hearts to those who opposed our causes for personal or ideological reasons. The nobility of the winners lies in forgiving and not in revenge. As a nation we need a true reconciliation amongst ourselves – that we accept all who believe in our national feelings – regardless of political themes. An eye for an eye makes the world blind, a limb for a limb makes the world crippled.

    The cycle of vendetta orchestrated by the AL ever since their first ascent to power bears the hall marks of barbarity, ignorance and pathological self insecurity. How long will the petty-mindedness continue on our national psyche?

    The numbers of Indian domiciles owning/operating now in Bangladesh is at its alarming level since independence. The Indian NGOs have infiltrated at every grass root level.

    There is no more clear land boundary of Bangladesh since the brutal Indian orchestrated murder and the subsequent dissolution of the BDR. This historical event at Pilkhana bears the testimony of a perfect execution of a perfect murder plan – made in India and collaborated by AL. This has been a cherished goal of the PM since she was disgraced by the military during the caretaker government. These two intentions fit like a glove.

    There are material and circumstantial evidences left behind by the murders and their planners, one only need to apply little intelligence to fit the simple puzzle. Even those foot soldiers who knew some part of the story were all killed in the jail, they were 60 of them. We were told they “died due to various illnesses in the jail”. Lies after lies after lies.

    No other mass murder in Bangladesh history has gone unearthed and unpunished like that in Pikhana. The planned and willing sloppy handling by the PM and her doll Interior minister while the butchery went on bears clear testimony of a grand plan, one that is far beyond the comprehension of the little brain within AL. While no one in Bangladesh knew the insider details of Pilkhana, Indian newspaper printed which general and which army officer were killed during the half day of the “mutiny”. West Bengal newspaper flashed every details of the savagery while we knew nothing. India even assured our PM of their readiness to invade should things turn ugly.

    With the open border we have become a satellite nation of Indian commodities – let there be no industry, no exportable commodity from Bangladesh, leading to further growth of Indian export – openly or clandestinely.

    This process is cyclical; with the rise of black market economy through open border people resort to criminality, corruption, bribery – thus one sees a colossal disparity of wealth accumulation in the hands of a few while the rest starve. It has put fire on human greed to amass more.

    India wanted our natural gas and pressured through its big boss Uncle Sam to supply to the Indian backwater states in the north and east. That did not succeed. Then they offered to build our power industry in return for free gas supply to their power plant –they would get the revenue at not cost. Finally they latched us on a1 billion loans to Bangladesh – 97% of that goes back to them. What a travesty!

    The testimony of patriotism is not in calling people to arms but in loving the country, its people, its wealth, its heritage, its culture and resist enemies with the last drop of blood. Likewise betrayal entails colluding with enemies for self-service, family interest, causing internecine fights, letting party animals run amok on people, assist enemy destroy national wealth, industry, people’s moral. Ask yourself where does AL fit in this scheme?

  7. Masud Isa

    Its true that both the parties i.e. BNP and BAL are inept and corrupt and lack vision to lead Bangladesh. Unfortunately, the a breed of journalists love to oversetimate and pamper these corrupt leaders with adjectives which are not due to them -rather the virutues that are attached to their personalities mislead their actual selves.
    Bangladesh needs intelligent,honest and visionery leadership. If the people votes these two parties, the country will be in the vicious circle of corruption and underdevelopment. The fear is that the vaccuum may be exploited by the fundamentalist Jamat and extremists Islamists! BD is truly stuck into the cogmire of quicksand! But I stil harbour a faint hope, that we shall find a way to come out of these dark days.

  8. Nizam M. Selim

    Pugancious patriotism, or chauvinism, is akin to fascism. BAKSAL’s repression in post1972 period, killing Democracy bears testimony to this fact. “Facts are sacred, opinion is free.”

    Feroze does have a case in point. Consider that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had gone to Agartala,- the tell-tale “Agartala Conspiracy Case” having originated from this fact. Consider that from 7th of March 1971, when the Pakistan Army elements were minimal in erstwhile East Pakistan and the Pak Army commandos had not been mobilized, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was wasting time (buying time?) in the declaration of independence of East Pakistan/Bangladesh in spite of all the-then politicians and activists in East Pakistan were exhorting him to declare “INDEPENDENCE”! In fact, the contemporaneous senior most East Pakistani military man stationed in East Pakistan – Brigadier Majumder – was rumoured to have suggested to Sheikh Mujib for declaration of “INDEPENDENCE”, assuring him that the armoury were in their control and that it would be a victorious independence without blood shed! Genuine and authentic historical research would plausibly unearth the bare “Facts” from the sifting sands of time and space.

    The “Fact” however does remain that the time bought by Sheikh Mujib allowed (a) Pakistan Army’s commandos to mobilize by 25th March 1971, and (b)Indian Army to mobilize for confronting the Pakistan Army in a War. The rest is history.

    The end results??:-

    1) India profited from the War in 1971, taking/looting all the booties and rewards;
    2) India made Pakistan Army (Niazi et al.) to surrender to them, appropriating all the armaments of the Pakistan Army stationed in the-then East Pakistan;
    3) Borders with East Pakistan/Bangladesh was made free-for-all, and opened to smuggling and informal trade that enriched the Indian Exchequer;
    4) All the industries in Bangladesh were plundered and laid to ruins by the AL/Baksal/Sheikh Mujibur Rahman;
    5) Sheikh Mujib/AL/BAKSAL made Bangladesh a “Bottomless Basket”;
    6) Sheikh Mujib had signed a 25-year Treaty with India that made it a vassal state of India;
    7) Bangladesh was made a market for India, making it an economic slave that had in reality no “Sovereignty” at all;
    8) Dr. Kamal Hossain went to New Delhi to seek approval for Bangladesh’s first Draft Constitution.

    The ruination of all the institutions of Democracy and democratic practices, such as the Office of the Election Commission, Parliament, Judiciary – including the Supreme Court and High Court, the Offices of the Executive, including such as those of the Prime Minister, President and civil and military bureaucracy, wart and all – have been destroyed by Sheikh Hasina’s/AL’s “Jalao-Porao” (scorched earth) and “Aborodh” (siege)policies, and acts and deeds.

    There is in practice, and fact, no rule of law in Bangladesh now. Anarchy is the order of the day!

    No so-called “Terrorist” or “Islamist” or “Fundamentalist” organization(s) has had the capacity to do the damage and destruction in Bangladesh as did the Awami League, and still continuing to do so!

    There is no instance of any so-called “Jihadists” or Hasina’s “Talibans” in Bangladesh who had (a) held the country hostage for 34 days as Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League did in 1996 through “Aborodh”, (b) held the Election Commission and Chief Election Commissioner hostage in 2006, as Sheikh Hasina and the AL did, (c)held the President and “Gono Bhaban” hostage as Sheikh Hasina and the AL did in 2006, (d) ransacked and vandalized the Chamber of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as the Awami Leaguers did in 2006, (e)killed and burnt through “Loggi & Baitha Michhil” unwitting public and public transports as they did in 2006, and (f) led a “Laathi Michhil” in 1997 spearheaded by the AL Home Minister Md. Nasim.

    All these hard “Facts” are indelible, and arguably point towards what Mr. Ferzoe has been articulating.

    Neither the Jamaat elements and nor the so-called “Fundamentalists” had ever either threatened or held state power, or had destabilized Bangladesh. Empirical and circumstantial evidences point only towards the Awami League for having destabilized Bangladesh and taking it towards the brink of a “Failed State”.

    A “Failed” and anarchic state would surely be the desired play ground for India and its ally the USA for creating a bulwark against China. As Awami League and its partner pro-Indian political allies are the only ones who are scare-mongering about “Islamists” and “Jihadists” and creating the Islamophobia in Bangladesh, otherwise a liberal and moderate Muslim country, it follows suit that they are hands in glove with the proponents of Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations.”

    Islam per se does abhor extremism. Stoking the fire and frenzy of extremism in a moderate and liberal Muslim country like Bangladesh is arguably funded, fostered, favoured, patronized and publicized by those external quantities who stand to gain from them: Awami League, India, USA, Israel and the Zionist-Christian lobbies.

    Sheikh Hasina and her party the Awami League are, in fact, showing the way on how to pander to the neo-conservatives in the West and make the State of Bangladesh an instrument for perpetrating witch hunts and “State Terrorism” under the garb of “Democracy” engineered by a mercenary army string-pulled by the Western powers on 1/11 2006. Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League are on record for having taken the credit in dislodging a constitutional government in Bangladesh on 1/11 2006 through the unconstitutional means of the “Barrel of a gun” that General Moyeen U. Ahmed had wielded at the time. Sheikh Hasina is on record as having said that 1/11 is the fruit of AL’s unleashed anarchy, and went on to welcome the unconstitutional government under Fakhruddin Ahmed. She and the Awami League were amply rewarded by the military regime that came after 1/11, and she and her party Awami League were hoisted to power in Bangladesh after Fakhruddin.

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