Tackling online radicalization in Bangladesh
Syed Mahfujul Haque Marjan, Faculty Member of Criminology, Dhaka University : Bangladesh has seen a new wave of terrorism in the last few years. The Holey Artisan Attack is an example of this new wave. Terrorists are now using different web platforms to disseminate their messages, recruit new members and collect donations. Our law enforcement agencies are busy with operational activities rather than tackling online radicalization and deradicalization processes. The failure or lack of attention to this issue has become a great concern for upcoming days.
This new wave of terrorism started in 2013 with the murder of Blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider. Ansarullah Bangla Team was behind the murder. All the killers of Rajib were motivated by the preaching of Jasimuddin Rahmani on Youtube and other zihadi sites. Therefore, the online platform is becoming a significant hub for the terrorists till now.
Different law enforcement agencies are trying to block these sites. Sometimes they are successful but nonetheless, most of the time terrorists are ahead. For example, Ansar al Islam, former Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a pro-al Qaeda group in Bangladesh, has enormous presence in cyberspace. Our law enforcement agencies blocked their biggest online platform, but after few days, they opened another domain to share their views across the internet. They have separate video platform to recruit and train members. They are also using archive.org to preserve their data. They have enormous accounts in different link sharing websites to share links secretly with members. Moreover, terrorists have made different applications to send encrypted message apart from the Telegram application. Nowadays, Whatsapp and Facebook offer sending or receiving encrypted message.
Bangladesh had 87.790 Million internet users at the end of June, 2018. Among them, nearly 30 million are active Facebook users. The number is growing with time. Individual Jihadism is based on online propaganda tools. Youths, especially, are being radicalized from the propaganda messages of these sites. A person can go for any terrorist activity after watching and reading propaganda materials. These websites provide reading and video materials from targeted killings to homemade explosives. These materials are in Bengali and easily accessible from any parts of the world.
The number of internet users and lack of knowledge on the radicalization have become a threat for Bangladesh. Our decision makers and high-ups from the law enforcement agencies often think that arranging seminar-symposium and broadcasting television commercials on deradicalization are the best solution to tackle online radicalization. These steps can be successful when a social movement will be formed against the radicalization in every sphere of the society. We are not aware of this social movement. A combined deradicalization process is needed to solve the online radicalization in Bangladesh.