Vol. 5 Num 549 Mon. December 12, 2005  
Letters to Editor

JMB got Guevara wrong

Last century, Che Guevara laid out tactics of an armed insurgency. He identified three factors essential to start with:
1. Public discontent on existing establishment of power
2. Popular belief that force is the only way to change
3. A popular cause to fight for

According to Guevara, at the beginning, a small secret group will start hit and run attacks against symbols of establishments: police, army, administrative body etc. Since ordinary people hate the establishment, they will appreciate its harassment. This appreciation will increase the popularity of the movement until it reaches the critical mass.

In Bangladesh, apparently JMB has made a mix of Guevara tactics and religious zeal. They started attacking the establishments like judicial courts. But they might not have studied Guevara to the fullest. Che particularly emphasized on popularity, because in the long haul insurgents have to depend on people for their food, money, and shelter. And popularity is exactly what JMB is not getting by blasting bombs. Public discontent is here, but it is not against the system; rather it is a frustration against people who are running it. Second and third factors of Guevara do not exist at all. As for the third factor, their tactics are self defeating to their cause of establishing Islam. The underlying principle of the tactic they borrowed from their sworn enemies--the communists, that small number of people can be sacrificed to achieve good for greater mass, is fundamentally against the teachings of Islam. Islam values every life. It is written in the Holy Koran that killing one person is like killing the whole humanity. JMB will be able to convince only a few gullible people.

The catch is, it takes only a few people to wreck havoc. That is why their doomed prospect is no reason for complacency; rather they need immediate and active confronting. The musts are continuous police operations not allowing them to rest and regroup, and public vigilance. It is also important to bring them to book as per the laws of the country, through a judicial system they are fighting against. If we can't show our confidence in our system, it will only aid their cause.

In the long run, Madrassah education needs to be modernised and regulated, and mosques should be monitored to ensure they are not hijacked by religious zealots.