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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Washington lauds Dhaka’s stance on terrorism

Tribune Report

Praising the incumbent Bangladesh government for its strong political commitment and firm determination to combat local and international terrorist groups, the United States has said that terrorists find it difficult to carry out any criminal activity using the territory.
“Bangladesh made counter-terrorism progress in 2014, with the government demonstrating a commitment to counter both domestic and transnational terrorist groups,” the US Department of State said in its annual Congressionally-mandated Country Reports on Terrorism 2014.
The report gave a detailed overview of Bangladesh’s efforts with its legislation, law enforcement and border security issues; countering the financing of terrorism; regional and international cooperation; and countering radicalisation to violence and violent extremism.
“No major terrorist incidents took place in 2014, and the government’s counter-terrorism efforts have made it more difficult for transnational terrorists to operate in or use Bangladeshi territory,” the report says.
South Asia remained a front line in the battle against terrorism. According to the report, the number of terrorist attacks last year increased by 35% and total fatalities increased 81% compared to 2013, largely due to terrorist activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.
More than 60% of all the attacks took place in five countries: Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria. And 78% of all fatalities due to terrorist attacks also took place in five countries: Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.
Terrorists use social media platform
Mentioning al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s audio tape over Bangladesh last year, the US report says terrorist organisations used social media to spread their radical ideologies and solicit foreign fighters from Bangladesh.
“Expatriate Bangladeshis have been arrested for attempting to recruit Bangladeshis to join the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). While Bangladesh is not part of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, it is taking steps to address the threat,” says the report.
Legislation, law enforcement, border security
The annual report says Bangladesh’s criminal justice system is in the process of fully implementing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009 (ATA) as amended in 2012 and 2013.
“Although Bangladesh’s ATA does not outlaw recruitment and travel in furtherance of terrorism, the broad language of the ATA provides several mechanisms by which Bangladesh can implement UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2178, which requires nations to address the foreign terrorist fighter threat.”
The US report quoting media reports mentions that the law enforcers arrested several members of local terrorist groups Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, Harkat-ul Jihad al Islami-Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team.
“Bangladesh cooperated with the United States to further strengthen control of its borders and land, sea, and air ports of entry. Bangladesh continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance programme and received counterterrorism-focused training for law enforcement officers,” it adds.
Counter-terrorism cooperation between India and Bangladesh was seen after the October 2, 2014 blasts in Burdwan of West Bengal in which involvement of the JMB members have been suspected. Following the incident, Indian officials visited to Dhaka while a Bangladeshi intelligence team travelled to West Bengal, and both countries intensified parallel raids along the border, the report says.
Countering the financing of terrorism
Bangladesh Bank and its Financial Intelligence Unit/anti-money laundering section lead the government’s effort to comply with the international sanctions regime.
According to the report, the terrorist finance provisions of the ATA outlaw the provision, receipt and collection of money, service, and material support where “there are reasonable grounds to believe that...the same has been used or may be used for any purpose by a terrorist entity.”
Regional and international cooperation
Bangladesh is active in the full range of international fora and bringing the country’s counter-terrorism efforts in line with the four pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The country is party to various counter-terrorism protocols under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).
“The current government has demonstrated its strong interest in cooperating with India on counter-terrorism. It has signed memoranda of understanding with a number of countries to share evidence regarding criminal investigations including investigations related to financial crimes and terrorist financing.”
Countering radicalisation to violence and violent extremism
The US annual report states that last year, Bangladesh became a board member and pilot country for the Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience, a public-private global fund to support local, grassroots efforts to counter violent extremism.
“Bangladesh uses strategic communication to counter violent extremism, especially among youth,” the report says.
It adds that the Education Ministry provides oversight for madrasas and is developing a standard national curriculum that includes language, mathematics and science; and minimum standards of secular subjects to be taught in all primary schools, up to the eighth grade.
On the other hand, the Religious Affairs Ministry and the National Committee on Militancy Resistance and Prevention work with imams and religious scholars to build public awareness against terrorism, the US State Department report adds. 

Source:  The Dhaka Tribune, 21 June 2015

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