Rohingya refugees 'could starve to death' in Bangladesh after fleeing violent persecution in Burma

“Reports of links between Rohingya militants and jihadist groups”

"A former Australian ambassador to Myanmar, Trevor Wilson,said that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), .shows many of the attributes of Islamist terrorist groups (such as IS) elsewhere.

"ARSA has declared links with Islamic State, uses crude anti-authoritarian propaganda, and shows a willingness to introduce arms into what was previously an 'unarmed political struggle'," he wrote in an online post for the Asian Studies Association.

"The utterly opportunistic nature of their publicprofile, and blatant use of ordinary Rohingya to cover for their own extremism are similarly shared attributes."

Mr Wilson said ARSA's destabilising influence in Myanmar has attracted attention from intelligence agencies, and referred specifically to a report on a news site run by exiled Burmese journalists — Mizzima — that said IS and Pakistan were behind the Rohingya attacks on Myanmar security forces.

It said the Rohingya leader behind the attacks, Hafiz Tohar,had spoken at length with extremists in Pakistan and Iraq in the two daysbefore last month's attacks on Myanmar security posts.

"Indian and Bangladesh intelligence officials say thatthey have intercepted three long-duration calls between Hafiz Tohar … that holdthe key to why the militant group unleashed the pre-dawn offensive againstMyanmar security forces," the report said.

The report quoted an unnamed Bangladeshi intelligenceofficer who said the attacks on Myanmar forces aimed to cause trouble forAungSan Suu Kyi's Government in Myanmar and bolster the Rohingya insurgency inRakhine state.

Tohar is believed to have trained with the PakistaniTaliban, and is widely blamed for similar attacks in Myanmar lastOctober".

"Al Qaeda warns crimes against 'Muslim brothers' willbe avenged".

"Al Qaeda's intervention in the humanitarian crisis inMyanmar has stoked new fears that Rohingya militants have the backing of global jihadist groups, including Islamic State (IS).

Al Qaeda has issued a statement urging Muslims around theworld to send aid, weapons and military support to Rohingya Muslims in themajority Buddhist Rakhine state.

Nearly 400,000 Rohingyas have fled toBangladesh since late August after a brutal military crackdown by Myanmar'smilitary in retaliation for attacks by Rohingya militants on several policeposts and an army base.

Al Qaeda has warned Myanmar will face punishment forits"crimes against the Rohingyas".

"The savage treatment meted out to our Muslim brothers…shall not pass without punishment," Al Qaeda said in a statement,accordingto the SITE monitoring group.

"The Government of Myanmar shall be made to tastewhatour Muslim brothers have tasted."

Myanmar said it is dealing with a terrorist group, namelythe Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which has previously been linked toextremist groups including IS.

Expert warns of Rohingyas obtaining weapons

The Mizzima report is difficult to verify. But other reportsbolster evidence of a link between jihadist groups and militant extremism inMyanmar.

In a separate move, the leader of an IS offshoot inBangladesh,Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, has previously vowed to launch"operations within Burma once we've reached the capability to do so".

"The Muslims in Burma have been oppressed by themushrik Buddhists for a long period of time," he said in an interview withDabiq, an IS magazine, last year.


An Australian security expert warned that calls by Al Qaedaand IS to mobilise resources in Myanmar — while not surprising — could lead toaflow of high powered weaponry to militant Rohingyas.

"There's a number of reasonably militant groups inBangladesh, so they may well have ways of getting weapons to the Rohingyagroups," said Greg Fealy, an associate professor of Indonesian politicsatt he Australian National University.

"One of the things we've seen in the last month is somefight back from some of those displaced Rohingyas — attacks on police posts,military posts, in Rakhine state.

"But most of the time they've been with either sharpinstruments, swords, machetes, things like that. They have very few weapons,theRohingya attackers. So we could see a considerable escalation in the nature ofthe conflict."

(ABC News)