Little attention paid to Rohingyas ties with international terrorism: Expert

ANI | Updated: Oct 27, 2017 21:01 IST

New York [USA], Oct 27 (ANI): Little attention has been paid to Rohingyas ties with international terrorism despite media covering the mass exodus of the minority community following violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine State, says an expert.

"Although the media has extensively covered the Burmese Army's expulsion of Muslim Rohingya people from Rakhine province in Myanmar -- and although no one is recommending the horrors of murder or mass expulsions -- little attention has been paid to Rohingya ties to international Islamic terrorism," said Lawrence A. Franklin, who was the Iran Desk Officer for former US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, in an article published in gatestomeinstitute.org.

He mentioned that Myanmar's Islamists and their foreign-backers, aided by foreign terrorist networks in Pakistan and support from Rohingya exiles in Arab Gulf States, may want to establish a Sharia state in Rakhine.

Franklin, who has also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, said that the Muslim rebels who attacked a military base, police barracks, and border guard posts, killing at least 71 people in Myanmar, were members of the Islamist Arakan Rohingya Salvation Group (ARSA) and alleged that some of these operatives had likely received training in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Citing the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, he said the Rohingya Diaspora in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is also providing financial assistance to their religious cousins in Myanmar.

"Additionally, many of the more than 50,000 Rohingya emigres in the United Arab Emirates send back money to their ethnic relations in Myanmar. The Emir of Sharjah in the UAE, Sultan bin Muhammad al-Qasimi, also financially supports Myanmar's Rohingya," he added.

Asserting that Arab Gulf States also grant sanctuary to Islamists from the ethnic Rohingya Diaspora, Franklin noted that Ata Ullah, ARSA's founder, was born to Rohingya exiles in Karachi, Pakistan, before immigrating to Saudi Arabia, where he created ARSA in 2012, after a series of clashes between the Rohingya and government security forces in Myanmar.

Explaining the tension between Rohingya and ethnic Burmese, Franklin said: "After the integration of northernmost Burma into India, the British colonial government organised a mass migration of Muslims from the Bengali-dominated region of the sub-continent (today's Bangladesh) to what is now Myanmar's Rakhine State. Britain's decision greatly offended the Burmese, as Myanmar (Burma) had been an overwhelmingly Buddhist state. The migration sparked immediate inter-religious tensions, and subsequent periods of religious warfare."

Highlighting that the Buddhist-Muslim tensions continue, he said that Buddhists accuse the Muslim Rohingya of raping and murdering Buddhist women while Non-Muslim ethnic minorities, who live in the Muslim-majority Rakhine State, accuse Rohingya of attacking their villages, burning their homes and raping women.

Franklin also cited Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Mohan Bhagwat's statement where he had expressed concern over the infiltration of Rohingya in India, by claiming that they are "a threat to national security," with "links to jihadists."

"Additionally, Pakistan's Islamic terrorist networks are transforming Saudi-educated ethnic Rohingya emigres into jihadi warriors. At least three well-known Pakistan-based terrorist organizations have aided the Rohingya jihadis. They include: the Harakat ul-Jihad Islami (HUJI), Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Jaish-e-Muhammad. Some of these militants receive training across the border from Myanmar in the Chittagong region of Bangladesh," he said.

Franklin also pointed out that Myanmar's hostility to its Rohingya minority once even drew Osama bin Laden's attention when in 1996, he mentioned their persecution in his Declaration of Jihad against the West.

Franklin added that Al-Qaeda has called upon jihadists to aid their fellow Muslims and to punish Myanmar as now the Rohingya plight is a front-page item.

"The Rohingya issue may serve to revive the fortunes of Al-Qaeda's Southeast Asian derivative, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Once eviscerated by counter-terrorist strikes on its leadership and the foiling of planned terrorist operations, JI may seize upon the Rohingya crisis to revive its operational strength. The Islamic State and Afghanistan's Taliban have issued similar calls for jihad against Myanmar," he warned.

Franlin said that foreign government support may indeed be strengthening terrorists in Myanmar as established governments of Muslim majority states, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, are echoing calls for Muslims to defend the Rohingyas.

"The Muslim world's condemnation of Myanmar should give the West pause before it joins in the widespread criticism of Myanmar. Al-Qaeda's call "upon all Mujahidin in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines to set out for Burma to help their Muslim brothers" is accompanied with a threat that the Myanmar government "shall be made to taste what our Muslim brothers have tasted," he said.

"In addition to fighting atrocities against innocent people, it is critical to protect the Free World, which, until the Rohingya crisis, Myanmar had made great progress toward joining," Franklin added. (ANI)

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