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US intelligence chief sees rise in militancy in Bangladesh


Newsworldbd.com -11.02.2016

US-ClapperThe US intelligence chief has claimed that efforts by the Bangladesh government to undermine the political opposition would probably provide openings for transnational terrorist groups to expand their presence, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

Several Bangladeshi security analysts, however, refuse to accept the view, saying the statement was issued only to give political edge for someone.

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper questioned Bangladesh’s public insistence that the killings of foreigners – Tavella Caesar and Hoshi Kunio – were the work of the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami, and are intended to discredit the incumbent government.

In a written testimony to a Senate hearing on worldwide threats, Clapper noted the claims of responsibility from the Dae’sh group (Islamic State) for 11 high-profile attacks on foreigners and religious minorities, and the claims from outlawed militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) for killing at least 11 progressive writers, bloggers and publishers in Bangladesh since 2013.

The claims by Dae’sh group were reported by SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based website monitoring jihadi activities, whereas Ansarullah and AQIS made the claims through Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The current Bangladesh administration repeatedly denied the presence of the Dae’sh group in the country, and has accused domestic militant organisations and political opponents for the attacks, Clapper said.

US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat on several occasions has expressed her government’s plan to assist the Bangladesh government in combating militancy.

In a meeting with the home minister last week, Bernicat said that the US government was keen to share information on Dae’sh and its possible threats in Bangladesh. She added that a US envoy would visit Bangladesh to hand the home minister over the information.

In his testimony, Clapper said that Bangladesh has been in political ferment since the run-up to January 2014 elections that were boycotted by opposition parties, and over war crimes prosecutions brought against Jamaat-e-Islami leaders over their alleged involvement in atrocities during 1971 War of Independence.

Earlier, the US made a similar statement in early 2007 in its Congressional Research Service report, saying culture of political violence and deterioration of Bangladesh’s democracy centring elections might create additional space for the Islamist militants.

Maj Gen (retd) Abdur Rashid, a security analyst, refused to accept Clapper’s comments.

“The so-called Islamic parties have been found doing it since the beginning of the nineteenth century and we faced militant attacks a number of times since then,” Rashid told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

“If we say it is happening for the present political phenomena, then why did the terrorist activities happen earlier? I think that their [US] observation on the issue of militancy is nothing but giving a political edge to someone.”

He said that one needs to know about the financiers and sympathisers to understand the trend of terrorism in the country. “Analysing the issues, I can say clearly that the US intelligence chief’s statement cannot be acceptable.”

Air Commodore (retd) Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, who follows security issues, thinks that the political situation in the country is now stable. “I do not think the political situation may give rise to militant activities.”

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has reiterated that the killing of foreigners was part of a conspiracy by a group of people to embarrass the incumbent government. “Their international agents are providing them with necessary supports,” he said yesterday.




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