KIARA BRAMASCO WRITES – On February 18, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladeshi Police force, arrested 21-year-old Rasel Bin Sattar Khan for circulating an audiovisual message online.
According to The Hindu, the message is believed to be from al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri who invites Muslims in Bangladesh to partake in an uprising “against the enemies of Islam.” The message was first uploaded last November, but spread recently after Khan uploaded the message to his blog. The Daily Star reports that Khan is in violation of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act after Khan admitted to posting the message on his Facebook page and blogs.
The Bangladeshi government has yet to confirm whether or not the message was from Al-Zawahiri, but, considering the message’s age, it’s clear the nation has been monitoring online content poorly. This point was admitted by the State Minister for Home, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, who also announced a meeting would be held on February 20 to address this glaring oversight. The current proposal is to form a government body that will monitor online content that affects Bangladesh.
While police participation in administering media guidelines is usually cause for scrutiny, we can’t help but realize such surveillance occasionally works for good.