Bangladesh (MNN) — Bangladeshi Christians are on-edge.
Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI) says threats and attacks are forcing some pastors to re-locate.
“When I speak with Muslims in Bangladesh, they think life is going on as normal,” says Allen. “But, the Christians are certainly sensing a ‘heightened’ security risk.”
The risk is catching headlines, too.
A jihadist belonging to Jama’at ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a terror group active in Bangladesh and India, just admitted to targeting foreigners in October’s spate of attacks. In late November, ISIS said this group was its affiliate in Bangladesh.
Allen, who travels fairly often to Bangladesh to meet with indigenous missionaries, recently received warnings from the U.S. State Department.
The notices highlighted “three attacks since September [that were] claimed by Islamic State…. Anyone traveling to Bangladesh…[needs] to exercise more caution than normal.”
The connection between the Islamic State and JMB seems obvious. However, Bangladeshi authorities refuse to credit claims of ISIS activity within their borders. It’s not unlike the repeated refusal by Pakistan’s government to acknowledge an Islamic State presence.
The denial raises a question: who’s to blame when groups affiliated with ISIS attack?
Today’s terror attributions
A puff adder is a poisonous snake that inflates itself to seem bigger than it really is. By taking credit for attacks carried out by its affiliates, ISIS also makes itself appear larger than it may actually be.
For example, it could be said ISIS has a “presence” in the United States because of last week’s attacks in Southern California. The shootings were carried out by radicals who “pledged allegiance” to the Islamic State.
“Does that mean Islamic State gets responsibility for that attack? They may have not funded it. They may not have provided the weapons used in the assault. But, they inspire it, ideologically,” Allen observes.
“Pre-existing terror groups [al-Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram, things like that]…also claim allegiance to Islamic State.”
This doesn’t mean ISIS should take credit for EVERY attack carried out by the aforementioned terrorist groups, Allen clarifies. These terror cells still operate independently.
“But, if ISIS says, ‘We’d like you to carry out this attack,’ the other terror groups say, ‘Okay, you say jump, we say how high?’ I think we have to consider not just who funded the attack, but who is inspiring, who is fostering this ideology of hate-mongering.”
Bangladeshi Christians need prayer
No matter who’s to blame, there’s no question that rising insecurity is affecting Bangladeshi Christians and other religious minorities. Here’s what YOU can do about it: “Pray for the pastors’ ability to lead their congregations with courage,” Allen suggests.
“The pastors needs to guide the congregations to think biblically and behave biblically.”
Plans are still underway for an upcoming FMI conference in Bangladesh, despite increasing security concerns. For the first time, the conference isn’t just for FMI-supported pastors.
“We want to bring their wives and families, as well, to the conference,” Allen says. “Be praying…that it will be good time of encouragement and fortification for them.”
Please ask the Lord for protection, as well as safe travels to and from the event.
“The cost runs about $40 per person, per day. We’re anticipating about 25 people showing up for the conference, for three days. That’s about $1,000 per day that we will need for the conference.”
To sponsor a family for this conference in early 2016, click here and select “Overseas Partners” or “Education/Training.”