- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2005

No room for terror

The ambassador from Bangladesh is proud of his prime minister for her strong words condemning terrorism in the name of Islam.

Ambassador Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury said Begum Khaleda Zia, one of only a few women to lead a Muslim nation, showed courage when she promised in a recent speech that her government will not allow the South Asian nation to become a breeding ground for international terrorism.

Many observers, however, worry that terrorism is spreading over the borders of Bangladesh and warn of increasing danger from domestic extremist groups.

In a speech at George Washington University on Tuesday, Mr. Chowdhury said the prime minister “has made it clear that those who preach hatred in the name of religion are enemies of Islam and the whole of humanity.”

“In addition to direct legal and police actions against extremists, the government has decided to launch a countrywide motivation campaign to counter militant organizations’ brainwashing of innocent youths and exploiting their religious sentiment,” he added.

He quoted the prime minister, who said, “Terrorism has no room in Islam. Those who indulge in terrorism are nothing but terrorists. The government will deal with them accordingly.”

Mr. Chowdhury said Bangladeshis are moderate Muslims and tolerant of minorities.

“It is important and pertinent to note that, of all the suspected terrorists arrested since 9/11 from Afghanistan and Iraq, not one has been from Bangladesh,” he said.

“This is, indeed, the strongest evidence that Bangladeshis inherently reject terrorism as a way of expressing support for a cause, whatever that cause may be. It also clearly demonstrates our society as being moderate and tolerant and a believer in peace and peaceful ways for addressing all and any issue of discord.”

But Bangladesh has been fighting homegrown terrorism for years, and some analysts say extremism is growing. Last week, suicide bombers from the outlawed group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh killed two senior judges.

In September, the South China Morning Post reported that Bangladeshi journalists were targeted by a “rising tide of Muslim extremism.”

The Jamestown Foundation’s Global Terrorism Analysis, in a June report, warned that “Bangladesh is increasingly recognized as the locus of a significant and expanding threat emanating from radicalized Islamist extremist mobilization and its systemic transformation into political and terrorist violence.”

Crossroads in Nepal

The U.S. ambassador to Nepal is worried about the future of the Himalayan nation, which is suffering under the authoritarian rule of King Gyanendra and a Maoist rebellion that is growing daily.

Ambassador James F. Moriarty urged the king to restore democracy and lift restrictions on the press, imposed when he seized absolute power in February.

“The king has some tough choices to make. Nepal is reaching a crossroads. There is need now for action. My country hopes to see some action in the coming days and weeks,” he told the Press Trust of India on a recent visit to New Delhi.

Mr. Moriarty met earlier this month with Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran.

“We discussed the continued need for the king to reach out to the political parties to find an effective way to work toward restoring democracy and to address the threat of the Maoist insurgency,” the ambassador told reporters in the Indian capital.

Although the king has promised to hold parliamentary elections in April 2007, Mr. Moriarty said the rebels could disrupt voting.

“The insurgency has not disappeared,” the ambassador said. “They are not controlling large parts of Nepal as is said, but they do dominate in some areas.”

cCall Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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