The number of terrorist incidents has come down significantly in the last three years, but the threat of radicalisation is on the rise, according to research by the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).
Terrorist activities have decreased 90 percent in the country compared to 2016, it says.
However, radicalisation has risen in that time, as the Dawahilallah Forum -- an extremist propaganda tool of banned militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team -- has increased its member base from 550 to 3,000, says the research.
The research also found 82 percent terrorists use social media, and 56 percent of the terror suspects were university graduates.
Saiful Islam, deputy commissioner of CTTC unit, presented the research paper at the concluding session of the two-day long national conference on preventing and countering violent extremism. The conference opened on Monday at the International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB).
“We should adopt a coordinated set of soft approaches along with the hard approach to counter terrorism at the state level,” said DC Saiful while presenting the paper.
He also proposed a counter-violent extremism (CVE) strategy, which has three main objects: prevention, proactiveness and partnership.
Prevention aims to raise public awareness nationwide, proactiveness refers to approaches including identification, and partnerships denotes inclusive participation of all stakeholders to eradicate the threat, said DC Saiful.
Earlier in the day, members of different NGOs shared experiences in working to prevent violent extremism. Abdul Mannan, deputy commissioner of the unit, conducted the session.
Speakers suggested integration of madrasa and general students in sports and cultural activities, saying they otherwise grow up alienated from the world. They also suggested to create awareness among parents.
At the session, an Imam suggested to bring all “alem” (Islamic scholars) to one platform, so they deliver same kind of sermons.
At the concluding session, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan was present as chief guest, while the Inspector General of Police Mohammad Javed Patwary and DMP Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam were special guests. The session was chaired by Monirul Islam, chief of CTTC unit.
Shafiqul Islam said around 90 percent the militants who were arrested and are facing trial, were found to be believers of Ahle Hadith.
“There is huge support of Ahle Hadith in the southern and northern parts of the country, and we need to work with their scholars to bring them to the right path,” said the commissioner.
IGP Javed Patwary observed that there is an absence of NGOs that can work people arrested and sent to jail. “We need to make more effort for de-radicalisation of militants in prison,” he said.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said terrorism and militancy have no place in Islam. Incidents of target killing happened in the country but peace-loving people resisted those incidents, and they do not shelter militancy, he said.
He urged people not to believe everything they read on internet. “We have to use our judgment to be sure which content is believable,” he added.
CTTC chief Monirul Islam hoped the conference will show them a right path on countering violent extremism. “All stakeholders have reached a consensus on combating extremism, which we believe will work in the future,” he said.
John Allelo, deputy mission director of USAID Bangladesh; and Rafiqul Islam, general secretary of Stop Violence Coalition also spoke.