In its latest Country Reports on Terrorism 2014, Bangladesh's efforts to counter terrorism and militancy has once again been vindicated. The report states that Bangladesh continued to make counterterrorism progress in 2014, with the current government once more demonstrating a commitment to counter both domestic and transnational terrorist groups. It notes that no major terrorist incidents took place in Bangladesh in the year 2014, and the Sheikh Hasina led Awami League government’s counterterrorism efforts have made it more difficult for transnational terrorists to operate in or use Bangladeshi territory.
Awami League Government's Political Will and Firm Commitment
The report especially mentioned that political will and firm commitment shown by the current government to combat domestic and transnational terrorist groups, and the accompanying counterterrorism efforts have made it harder for transnational terrorists to operate in or establish safe havens in Bangladeshi territories. The efforts by Bangladeshi law enforcers in arresting ISIS operatives and recruiters in Bangladesh in recent times was also mentioned specifically. Specific security drives have also cornered such terror outfits as Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, Harkatul Jihad al Islami-Bangladesh, and Ansarullah Bangla Team.
Tough Anti Terrorism Legislation
As far as legislative measures are concerned, the report talks about the Antiterrorism Act (ATA) 2009, the broad language of which 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 report highlighted the multifaceted cooperation Bangladesh has with US in terms of developing its capacity to fight terrorism, which has resulted in enhanced security of its borders and land, sea, and air ports of entry. Bangladesh continues to participate with the US State Department, Department of Justice, U.S. Special Operations Command Pacific to capacitate its own personnel to apprehend, prosecute and fight terrorism and violent extremism.
Combating Terrorism Financing
According to the report, Bangladesh continues to fight money laundering and financing of terrorism. The country is a is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, and the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. In 2014, Bangladesh graduated out of the FATF’s grey list. The laws surrounding terrorism financing and money laundering in Bangladesh make it extremely difficult for terror groups to deal with their finances in Bangladesh.
Regional and International Cooperation
The report states that Bangladesh is very active in the international and regional arena in countering the threat of terrorism and violent extremism. Bangladesh is party to various counterterrorism protocols under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and is bringing the country’s counterterrorism efforts in line with the four pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. In particular, the report states that the Awami League government has demonstrated its strong interest in cooperating with India on counterterrorism. It has signed a MoU with a number of countries to share evidence regarding criminal investigations, including investigations related to financial crimes and terrorist financing.
The report lauds Bangladesh for becoming, in 2014, 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 use of strategic communication to counter violent extremism, especially among youths, is also specifically highlighted. The government is developing a standard national curriculum that includes language, math, and science; and minimum standards of secular subjects to be taught in all primary schools, up to the eighth grade, in order to make sure that students of all mediums receive the appropriate type of education. The government's National Committee on Militancy Resistance and Prevention work with imams and religious scholars to build public awareness against terrorism.
Time and time again, the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reiterated her government's zero tolerance approach to terrorism and militancy. Her personal conviction in this regard, and the successes achieved by her administration, has been lauded not only by the USA, but most developed nations and such international bodies as the UN. This has been possible due to a number of measures being implemented by the Sheikh Hasina led Awami League since it assumed power in 2009 . The latest report by the US State Department is yet another vindication of her government's role and successes to counter terrorism and violent extremism.