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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New Evidence Supports Threat of South Asian Islamic Takeover

by Dr. Richard L. Benkin

A new Indian documentary provides visual and other evidence that Islamist attempts to secure a base on Northeastern India are “at an advanced state.” According to the documentary by Indian, Mayank Jain, “A conspiracy has been hatched by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence and fundamentalists from Bangladesh to carve out an Islamic country comprising Asom, Tripura, and West Bengal,” as well as Bangladesh. The three Indian states almost totally surround Bangladesh on the North, East, and West. Bangladesh is the world’s third largest Muslim nation and the seventh largest nation on earth both by population, and it actually separates Asom and Tripura from the rest of India.

As previously reported by me in The Intelligence Summit (“Bangladesh to Go Islamist?”; June 1, 2006), Al Qaeda forces have been steadily relocating from Afghanistan through Pakistan and Kashmir to settle in neighboring Nepal. What is curious about that venue is that Nepal is 89 percent Hindu with most of the remaining population Buddhist. But while Nepal in not a candidate to become the next Taliban state, it serves as a safe haven for Islamists with their eyes on transforming Bangladesh into one. Nepal is almost contiguous with Bangladesh at one point and the porous border presents a potential entry point for Islamists to infiltrate that nation and skew its January election results in favor of their cohorts there. West Bengal, one of the states mentioned in the documentary, is the land mass between the two countries.

The documentary was based on reports by the Indian Task Force on Border Management and from the former governor of Asom (previously Assam), Lieutenant General (Retired) SK Sinha. It also contained reports by former Indian Intelligence Bureau Chief TV Rajeswar and by journalist and opposition leader, Arun Shourie. Sinha, in particular, considers the influx of these Islamic fundamentalists, along with large numbers of Bangaldeshi Muslims a threat to “security, demography, and integrity” of these areas. The documentary alleges that they are now “the deciding factor” in about one third of all Asom local elections. And the “demographic invasion,” as the documentary calls it, is continuing unchecked.

Observers have noted these demographic trends since British control of the area, and made particular mention of them after Bangladesh’s successful revolution in 1971. There were those in Bangladesh who argued that the territory to the new nation’s east should be annexed “to balance” the economy and society. While no serious talks were ever implemented on that matter, the influx of Bangladeshis to that region has been steady ever since.

Today, however, within the context of Islamist imperialist designs, this established trend has taken on a new and more menacing character. The immigrants are not simply impoverished Bangladeshis looking for a better life but primarily trained Al Qaeda sympathizers. As early as 2004, there was concern about this with terrorists forced to leave their havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, United States offered its help in stemming the flow; but for “procedural reasons,” at least formally, India declined the help. Little was done after the offer was made, which has allowed this new sort of immigrant to flood the area. These new immigrants, according to the documentary and Indian Intelligence are fundamentalists (about 20,000 from Northeast India and 3,000 from Bangladesh) with a direct link to al Qaeda, which was providing them financial backing, arms, arms training. It also alleges that “the trained youths have suicide squads,” which conforms to the terror bombing by Islamists in Bangladesh.

Intelligence sources further strengthen previous analyses in these pages establishing the Al Qaeda presence in a chaotic Nepal as a way station for its taking Bangladesh. These new allegations point to an effort at a greater South Asian Islamist state. As noted by intelligence sources in the documentary, Siliguri corridor, the sliver of land between Nepal and these areas in India and Bangladesh, is the preferred entry point for the infiltrators, as they exit their hiding places in Nepal.

The documentary often plays upon the longstanding India-Bangladesh animosity and stone-throwing and suggests draconian measures to seal the two nations’ borders. But as the findings of Indian intelligence and others in the area suggest, the infiltrators are not Bangladeshis; in fact, their own statistics agree that the vast majority are not. A more detailed check of would reveal pan-national origins stretching from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Bangladesh and Northeast India. Their common characteristic is not nationality but their deadly ideology.

Dr. Richard L. Benkin has written extensively in and about Bangladesh and other matters relating to the Middle East and the Islamist threat; and he can be reached through his web site, http://www.InterfaithStrength.com. Benkin runs the site jointly with Bangladeshi anti-terrorist journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. Choudhury, an anti-Islamist Muslim, was falsely imprisoned and tortured until Benkin succeeded in gaining his release.

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