We cannot afford to treat terrorists as simply evil entities to be destroyed
In a recent interview with the Dhaka Tribune, Deputy Inspector General of Police Monirul Islam had some encouraging news: Thanks to the work of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit, militancy in Bangladesh is under control.
But there can be no room for complacency when it comes to terrorism.
More than four years ago, when the Holey Artisan Bakery attack was carried out on a fateful July night, killing 29 people in the process, Bangladesh was not only in utter shock, but, in the subsequent days, was forced to rethink and reassess its understanding of militancy and extremism in the country.
Since then, our nation’s response to militancy has been a pro-active, efficient, and effective one, as raids across the country discovered and eliminated militant dens and hideouts.
Considering the brutal and unforgivable nature of the Holey Artisan attack, such a response was essential to ensure that Bangladesh’s standing as a democratic and secular nation was preserved, and to make it clear that our nation would not tolerate ideologies which spread hatred and violence, and sought to destroy the very values on which our country was founded.
However, such a response only addresses part of the problem.
We cannot afford to treat terrorists as simply evil entities to be destroyed. Rather, we must understand that militancy is the product of widespread systemic issues of wealth, class, and culture, which must be understood and addressed.
As such, it is doubly encouraging to hear the DIG speak of militancy as a “complex and long-term process” which requires cooperation from every facet of society.
An adequate response to militancy must also include a “soft approach,” one which seeks to rehabilitate rather than punish, working towards preventing young impressionable minds from becoming radicalized in the future.