The US in a new report today said that Bangladesh experienced a fall in terrorist activity in 2020, accompanied by an increase in terrorism-related investigations and arrests.
The report released by the US Bureau of Counterterrorism said, in 2020, there were three specific terrorist incidents, but no deaths. Just as before, Bangladesh government denied Bangladesh-based terrorists having meaningful ties to transnational terror groups, including ISIS or AQIS.
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The report said the ongoing deficits in Bangladesh’s judicial system, magnified by the constraints of operating during a global pandemic, contribute to a decade-long backlog of terrorism cases and a conviction rate estimated at less than 15 percent.
Bangladesh continued to articulate a zero-tolerance policy toward terrorism and the use of its territory as a terrorist safe haven, the report said.
It observed that in 2020, Bangladesh’s criminal justice system was still working to fully implement the Anti-terrorism Act of 2009 as amended in 2012 and 2013.
The seven CT Special Tribunals authorized under the act adjudicated cases in 2020, including the 2015 murder of blogger and science writer, Ananta Bijoy Das, claimed by Al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam.
Although Bangladesh’s Anti-terrorism Act does not outlaw recruitment and travel in the furtherance of terrorism, the broad language of the act provides several mechanisms by which Bangladesh may implement UNSCR 2396 on addressing foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), it said.
Despite lacking laws specific to FTFs, Bangladesh arrested suspected FTFs or facilitators of such fighters on other charges under existing law.
Bangladesh cooperated with the US to strengthen control of its borders and ports of entry, but the international community remains concerned about the security procedures at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
Bangladesh actively shared law enforcement information with Interpol but does not have a dedicated terrorist Alert List, but the US and Bangladesh work on building Bangladesh’s technical capacity to develop a national-level Alert List of known or suspected terrorists.
Bangladesh does not systematically review or analyze Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Records (API/PNR).
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and the National Committee on Militancy, Resistance, and Prevention worked with imams and religious scholars to build public awareness about terrorism.
The government included countering violent extremism (CVE) in its National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, and a US-funded grantee, mentored and developed the skills of at-risk youths to reduce the risk of them joining terrorist organizations.
Throughout 2020, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit (CTTC) of police and the Rapid Action Battalion established “deradicalisation and rehabilitation programs,” in addition to conducting community policing efforts and investigations and arrests of suspected FTFs.
The police engaged religious leaders to counter terrorist propaganda with scripture-based messages and engaged imams to speak to surrendered militants with their own messaging to explain that the Quran does not support terrorist violence, the report said.