From the Editor-in-Chief: Neither Bangladeshi nor Muslim

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, December 14th, 2017
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The absurdity of the global War on Terror has once again revealed itself in glaring terms. In the same week that we saw the death cult spawned in the chaotic crescendo of the Middle East’s quarter-century of war and reckoning, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, suffer what is said to have been terminal defeat in Iraq, a young, Muslim immigrant attempted to blow himself up in one of the busiest points of the New York City subway – the point obviously being to take as many of his fellow commuters as he possibly could with him.


His chosen method for supposedly avenging US strikes against his imaginary buddies in ISIS was one long flagged by the NYPD as their biggest fear – someone “blowing himself up in a crowd” – that for all their troubles in the last 16 years, they have not actually faced. When they did finally, at the start of the working week, 7.30am on a Monday (December 11), it turned out to be a bit of a dud, thanks to the perpetrator’s sheer ineptitude at evil. He even failed to kill himself. Four people suffered injuries.


That is including the would-be mass murderer, who himself had recovered enough in the space of 24 hours to reveal much about his actions, and intentions. It pretty much stuck to the typical script. Inspired by ISIS. Radicalised online. Downloaded instructions, shopped online for most of the parts, to build a pipe bomb that fizzled on account of poor craftsmanship. Oh, and one more thing – he is Bangladeshi by birth. In his neighbourhood of Brooklyn alone, they number over 3,000.


Former NYC cabbie (possibly the most Bangladeshi thing about him) Akayedullah, we have since learned, got the chance to migrate to the US in 2011, on account of his uncle becoming a citizen and taking his sister across, who of course couldn’t be expected to make the switch without her son, Akayed, then 20. Of course we all know people who have done it. Yet this provision that has come to be known as ‘chain migration’, always struck one as doors opening a bit too wide. Not only are such applicants more difficult to vet – from their point of view, one would think such migrants are also more likely to suffer alienation in their new setting. Alienation merging along its edges with isolation and exclusion can make for a toxic brew.


Of course he appeared ‘ordinary’ to neighbours, some even vouching for him being ‘a good guy’. They almost all are, or at least that’s all that neighbours and friends can ever tell. Bombing parts of the Middle East back to the Stone Age when the enemy emerges almost unassumingly right back home, must give US policymakers pause for thought. Just to consider perhaps, the possibility of a need to rethink their response to terrorism. Otherwise the #WarOnTerror may struggle to avoid the same fate as the #WarOnDrugs: in abject defeat and withdrawal.

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