However, a new security dilemma for Bangladesh is the problem created by Rohingya refugees. At least 74,000 Rohingyas crossed the border into Bangladesh after Myanmar began a military crackdown in northern Rakhine State. The crackdown followed attacks on border guards on October 9, 2016, in which nine Myanmar Policemen were killed and four were injured when hundreds of armed Rohingya men with knives, slingshots and rifles attacked three separate police posts along the Rakhine border with Bangladesh. Highlighting the Rohingya crisis as an important issue, Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali stated in the Parliament on June 15, 2017, "Twenty to 25 percent people in Cox’s Bazar are now Rakhine Muslims. Such huge presence of Rakhine Muslims in the area will pose a threat to the national security in future. The Rakhine people have been engaged in various misdeeds, including drug smuggling on bordering areas and arms and human trafficking. They've become a national security concern for Bangladesh." The Minister further noted that some 33,000 Rohingyas, registered as refugees, were living in two camps run by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cox's Bazar. It is estimated that some three to four hundred thousand unregistered Myanmar citizens (Rohingyas) have been staying in five Bangladeshi Districts, including Cox's Bazar.
A second wave of refugees swept in after the incident of August 25, 2017, in which hundreds of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgents armed with machetes and rifles attacked 30 security posts in the Rakhine State, killing 12 Policemen, a soldier and an immigration officer. In response, the military unleashed what it called "clearance operations" to root out the insurgents. On September 14, 2017, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) claimed that up to 400,000 Rohingya had fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, with thousands more arriving every day. Separately, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner George Okoth-Obbo and International Organization for Migration (IOM) Director Mohammed Abdiker Mohamud in a joint press conference held in Dhaka on September 14, 2017, stated, “The Rohingya influx towards Bangladesh may reach 10 lakh (One million) this year if the refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State continues.”
Denouncing Myanmar for the atrocities and calling upon the international community to mount intensified pressure on Naypyidaw to stop the atrocities and take back the refugees, Bangladesh Parliament on September 11, 2017, passed a resolution:
A handful of people of a shadow group had staged the attack which we (Bangladesh) also condemned, but should the entire community of one million populations be punished for that?
Further, in a statement issued on September 13, 2017, the 15-member United Nations Security Council (UNSC) acknowledged the initial attacks on Myanmar Security Forces, but "condemned the subsequent violence," and called for "immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine, de-escalate the situation, re-establish law and order, and ensure the protection of civilians.”
Disturbingly, terrorist outfits are looking to cash in on the Rohingya crisis.The terrorist formations both at home and abroad are fishing in troubled waters, trying to provoke their followers to go to Myanmar and fight the country’s military in the name of ‘protecting Islam’ and saving the Rohingya people who face brutality at the hands of the Myanmar Army. On September 3, 2017, in a video message released by al Qaeda’s al-Malahem Media Foundation, Khaled Batarfi called on Muslims in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Malaysia to support their Rohingya Muslim brethren against the “enemies of Allah.” Similarly, on September 12, 2017, Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) Chief Maulana Masood Azhar declared, “All of us must do whatever we can for the Myanmar Muslims. Just say your prayers and get up to help them. You don’t need to show off what you are doing: just do it, and never stop." On the home front, Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI) Secretary General Junaid Babunagari issuing an ultimatum on September 9, 2017, threatened to siege of the Myanmar Embassy at Dhaka on September 19, if the atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state of Myanmar continued. Similarly, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, pasted posters on the street walls in Dhaka, Chittagong and other cities of Bangladesh, condemning the oppression on Rohingyas and urging countrymen to raise their voice.
Bangladesh has taken giant strides against terrorism and Islamist extremism. However, the scope for a coalition of terrorists with the radicalized elements among the Rohingyas who have been forced across the Bangladesh-Myanmar border could create new headaches for authorities. The Rohingya crisis is no longer only a humanitarian calamity but a potential threat to the internal stability and security of Bangladesh as well.