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Copyright © 2006 Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin

TOP STORY
Leftist-Islamist cooperation in Asia
New advances in Mainly Hindu Nepal seen
Publishing Date: 19.08.06 20:12
nepal
Nepal: New stomping grounds for al-Qaida?
By Dr. Richard L. Benkin
 
A new Indian documentary provides visual and other evidence that Islamist attempts to secure a base on Northeastern India are "at an advanced state."
 
According to the documentary by Indian Mayank Jain, "A conspiracy has been hatched by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence and fundamentalists from Bangladesh to carve out an Islamic country comprising Asom, Tripura, and West Bengal," as well as Bangladesh.  The three Indian states almost totally surround Bangladesh on the North, East, and West.  Bangladesh is the world's third largest Muslim nation and the seventh largest nation on earth both by population, and it actually separates Asom and Tripura from the rest of India.
 
As previously reported in G2B, al-Qaida forces have been steadily relocating from Afghanistan through Pakistan and Kashmir to settle in neighboring Nepal.  What is curious about that venue is that Nepal is 89 percent Hindu with most of the remaining population Buddhist. 
 
But while Nepal is not a candidate to become the next Taliban state, it serves as a safe haven for Islamists with their eyes on transforming Bangladesh into one.  Nepal is almost contiguous with Bangladesh at one point and the porous border presents a potential entry point for Islamists to infiltrate that nation and skew its January election results in favor of their cohorts there.  West Bengal, one of the states mentioned in the documentary, is the land mass between the two countries.
 
The documentary was based on reports by the Indian Task Force on Border Management and from the former governor of Asom (previously Assam), Lt. Gen. SK Sinha, (ret.).  It also contained reports by former Indian Intelligence Bureau Chief TV Rajeswar and opposition leader, Arun Shourie.  Sinha has been particularly outspoken about the "security, demography, and integrity" threat from the influx of these Islamic fundamentalists.  The documentary alleges that they are now "the deciding factor" in about one-third of all Asom local elections.  And the "demographic invasion," as the documentary calls it, is continuing unchecked.
 
These trends, however, are not entirely new.  They were noted as early as the period of Britain's mandate over India and increased with Bangladesh's 1971 war of secession.  Bangladeshi nationalists argued that these territories should be annexed to the new nation "to balance" the economy and society.  While no serious talks were ever implemented on that matter, the influx of Bangladeshis to that region has been steady ever since.  Today, however, within the context of Islamist imperialist designs, this established trend has taken on a new and more menacing character.  The immigrants are not simply impoverished Bangladeshis looking for a better life but primarily trained al-Qaida sympathizers.
 
Both the Americans and the British raised concerns about this in 2004.  U.S. Ambassador to India David C. Mulford even offered U.S. help in the form of the FBI after terrorist bombings in Assam in October of that year.  Assam's Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi seized upon Mulford's offer enthusiastically; but the assistance never came after procedural irregularities were cited.  We have now learned, however, that Indian leftists seized upon these irregularities to prevent American assistance in ferreting out the Islamists.  Beyond that, the director general of police in neighboring Tripura believes that Chinese intelligence is also abetting the region's growing militancy.  "It is really a matter of serious concern that several anti-India forces of China, Myanmar, Pakistan and Bangladesh are trying hard to create unrest in northeastern states by using the fundamentalists and separatist forces of the region."  He said Chinese intelligence forces were present "in the field" in the region.


Since 2004, the United Liberation Front of Asom has been working closely with Pakistani jihadists (and some say Pakistani intelligence) in that state.  The UFLA platform calls for a "sovereign, socialist Assam."  Earlier, the UFLA agitated strongly against Muslim immigration to Asom and its members labeled by Muslims as "Hindu fundamentalists."  But by 2004, the UFLA was one of the leftist groups that helped prevent effective aid to the Asom government in stopping the growing Islamists movement there.  At about the same time, the UFLA amended its statement of principles specifically re-define "Asamiya" to include non-Assamese speaking Muslims from "East Bengal."
 
According to the new documentary, Indian Intelligence has identified large numbers of Muslim fundamentalists "with a direct link to al-Qaida," providing financial backing, arms, arms training. It also alleges that "the trained youths have suicide squads," which conforms to the terror bombing by Islamists in Bangladesh.  The documentary strengthens the previous G2B analyses in these pages that identified the al-Qaida presence in a chaotic Nepal as a way station for its taking Bangladesh.  But the new intelligence findings point to an effort at a greater South Asian Islamist state.  As noted by intelligence sources in the documentary, Siliguri corridor, the sliver of land between Nepal and these areas in India and Bangladesh, is the preferred entry point for the infiltrators, as they exit their hiding places in Nepal.
 
Dr. Richard L. Benkin has written extensively in and about Bangladesh and other matters relating to the Middle East and the Islamist threat; and he can be reached through his website -- http://www.interfaithstrength.com/. Benkin runs the site jointly with Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.  Choudhury, an anti-Islamist Muslim, was falsely imprisoned and tortured until Benkin succeeded in winning his release.


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