Bangladesh continued anti-terror effort, terrorist group recruitment & funding increased online: US State Department
AIR PicsThe US State department in its country report on terrorism released on Monday says that in 2021 Bangladesh witnessed incidents causing injury and death derived from hate-based communal protests and political differences with some violent extremist group involvement. The report says that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reemphasized the zero-tolerance policy on terrorism.
At the same time terrorist groups increased recruitment and funding activities online. US trained Bangladesh police units arrested terror suspects which prevented some attacks in the country.
In 2021, three terrorist incidents took place in Bangladesh. On May 17, police neutralised a home made, remote controlled IED device in Narayanganj. On July 11, again Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTCU) recovered IEDs, bomb making materials and weapons from Narayanganj.
The Neo-JMB terrorists were the main suspect. In the incident on Sept. 16, a lone wolf attack took place in the diplomatic area in Gulshan in the capital city Dhaka. The suspect was immediately arrested, says the report.
The law enforcement agencies including CTTCU and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) continued raids and arrests of suspected militants. The CTTCU investigated 40 cases and made 85 arrests, most in Dhaka. The Anti Terror Unit (ATU) also increased its capacity and investigated 75 cases.
The report says Bangladesh has the capacity to patrol land and maritime borders. It has improved screening of cargo and passengers at the airport but the airline’s security is not as strong. Though Bangladesh shares information with INTERPOL, it does not have a dedicated terrorist watchlist. A US ‘alert list’ project is under consideration of the government.
The judiciary in Bangladesh sentenced five persons to death for the 2015 murder of Bangladeshi-American Avijit Roy who wrote books on atheism. The Anti-terror Tribunal (ATT) also sentenced eight Ansar-Al-Islam members to death for murdering Roy’s publisher in 2015.
The High Court upheld death sentences for 10 Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B) members for attempting to assassinate Sheikh Hasina in 2000. ATT sentenced six members of the banned Ansarullah Bangla Team to death, acquitting two, for brutally killing in 2016 Xulhaz Mannan, a USAID employee, and his partner Mahbub Rabby Tonoy.
The State Department report noted that CTTCU worked to deradicalise violent extremists but increased online chatter indicated that Taliban and Al-Qaeda expanded their influence in Bangladesh. The government made an effort through madrasas to promote alternative messaging to check radicalisation in the country.