William B. Milam writes: On Friday, a doctor in western Bangladesh was hacked to death. Last weekend, it was a Buddhist monk, in southeastern Bangladesh. The week before, it was a Sufi Muslim leader, up north. Less than two weeks earlier, it was an L.G.B.T. activist. Just days before that, an English professor.
Some of these attacks have not yet been claimed, but they follow a gruesome pattern: There have been at least 25 violent, sometimes public, killings of religious minorities, secularists and free-speech advocates in Bangladesh since February 2015. A dozen more people have been assaulted in similar ways and survived.
Of these attacks, more than 20 have been claimed by the Islamic State, about half a dozen by Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and one each by the indigenous Bangladeshi extremist groups Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh and Ansar al-Islam.
The surge is worrying Western governments, which fear that local Islamist terrorists may now be competing for the attention of international jihadist networks or cooperating with them. Several Western countries have responded with antiterrorism measures: Japan is providing aviation security; the United States has called for strengthening cooperation with the Bangladeshi authorities to counter terrorism and violent extremism.
This is a predictable reaction, but it is misguided, and dangerous, because it proceeds from the wrong diagnosis.
The recent string of vicious killings in Bangladesh is less a terrorism issue than a governance issue: It is the ruling Awami League’s onslaught against its political opponents, which began in earnest after the last election in January 2014, that has unleashed extremists in Bangladesh. [Continue reading…]