Egyptian Islamist zealot turned Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri is apparently the poster boy of violent terrorism and his face in the media evokes a violent image of Islam. During the early school days of Zawahiri, the then Egyptian government decided to exterminate Islamic militancy by hanging every possible person with the slightest connection with Islamic militancy. The bloody and heavy handed violent methods of Egyptian government in controlling the influence of some relative less violent groups like Muslim brotherhood evoked sympathy and ideological allegiance to these groups among many young people. At that time Zawahiri was recruited to Muslim Brotherhood and later he assumed a leadership role in Egyptian Islamic Jihad. If we take lesson from history we would see that violently exterminating the leadership of Egyptian Islamic groups did no have any long term effect in curbing Islamic terrorism. Rather we now have this Ayman al-Zawahiri threatening the world with new fear every now and then.
Now if we zoom in to Bangladesh, we will see how history is repeating itself with JMB leadership like Shayokh and Bangla Vai etc. When JMB first started, there was no intention to kill people as the bombs they exploded, did not contain any nail, pin, still pieces etc. These nails etc are needed to cause fatal injury.
Slowly over the weeks and months, the local and international media hype, government’s overzealous handling slowly driven them to become more violent. And we just witnessed a dozen of leaders are sentenced to be hanged (Six already hanged) for killing two judges. So the government as well as the nation unanimously has decided to ruthlesslessly destroy the human infrastructure of JMB, i.e. kill 6 JMB for each innocent victim.
There is no doubt that these zealots are responsible for many more deaths and they deserve an exemplary punishment.
But I worry, by this overzealous media attention to the miniscule impact this outfits are causing, and the national consensus of handling this zealots in the most ruthless way, we may help them turn into martyrs for Islam and hero to some. In the long run this heavy handed extermination technique may prove to be counter productive.
We also can take lesson from a Islamic militancy prone country Yemen. In Yemen, some of the arrested terrorists are pardoned and were released to the family/parents. A close watch was imposed on them and after concerted effort to academically and socially confront their ideology of violence, many of these young people have come out publicly denouncing their previous belief.
We have to keep in mind that a martyred Bangla bhai is much more powerful than a jailed Bangla Bhai. There was high probability that a jailed Shaiokh may have changed his philosophy several years later. We must deny them the ‘Shahada’ they crave for. I believe this approach would have been a better approach in preventing a revival of JMB ism.
But as we chose to go the other way, we just opted to face a more violent and stronger JMB in a not so distant future. We need to prepare ourselves for a protracted war.