Two days ago, Bangladesh was blanketed with a series of synchronized bomb explosions. Not 2, not 20, but more than 200 bombs exploded in less than an hour, throughout a country the size of Wisconsin.
The bombs exploded in 62 of Bangladesh's 64 districts. Although they were not intended to kill civilians (not this time), 2 people were killed and more than 120 injured.
A banned Islamist group, Jamatul Mujahideen took credit for the attacks. Their message was clear: they left behind their business card, letting the nation know that their network is in place and what they are capable of in their goal to take over Bangladesh. A leaflet found at one of the bombing sites said: "It is the third call to establish Islamic rule in the country. If ignored and (if) our people are arrested or persecuted, Jaamat-ul-Mujahideen (Assembly of Holy Warriors) will take the counter action." The group was referring to prior attacks this year for which it had claimed responsibility.
Why have we not seen this map in major Western newspapers? The Washington Post carried a small item about the bombings on August 18, on page A-13, and the New York Times buried the story in the International Section.
Bangladesh has the world's third largest Muslim population (145 million, exceeded only by Indonesia and India). The media has focused on the radical Islamist threat from Pakistan and Afghanistan, but nearby Bangladesh has gone unnoticed. Meanwhile, radical Islamism, with Saudi funding, has been gaining ground in this poverty-stricken country and threatening its long tradition of parliamentary democracy.
As FDD's Maneeza Hossain warned in a Wall Street Journal op-ed almost a year ago, The general feeling was that Bangladeshi Islamists, while sometimes noisy, lacked a constituency. Yet today, with the return of migrant workers from Saudi Arabia, they may have found one.... Returning Bangladeshi workers are not only jobless, but have also been exposed to the intolerant Wahhabism that dominates Saudi Arabia."<
The Islamists are gearing themselves to win the necessary parliamentary seats in the country's next elections, planned for January 2007, and establish Islamic law. If the world doesn't start paying more attention to Bangladesh, we should not be surprised when it becomes the next al-Qaeda haven, and starts to export suicide-bombers instead of textiles.