US to fight extremism together
Vouching for concerted effort to combat terrorism and violent extremism, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat said the US is determined to work together with its partners for the safety and security of their countries.
"We have everything we need to fight the emergence of ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] in Bangladesh. We should never underestimate the enemy," she said, a day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ruled out the possibility of IS presence in Bangladesh.
The US envoy's comment follows the murder of two foreign nationals in Bangladesh within a week, which the IS has claimed responsibility for.
“The enemy, in this case, is terrorism in general and ISIL in particular who has a lot of resources,” she said, addressing the DCAB Talk arranged by Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) at the Jatiya Press Club yesterday.
In response to a question, Bernicat said they were committed to helping Bangladesh government, if asked for help to get to the bottom of the murders.
“Both attacks are done in a very similar manner and it is unusual in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi people's hospitality to foreigners is legendary. It has not changed.”
She also said terrorism and violent extremism were global challenges and all countries should jointly address these challenges. “The best we can do is to investigate the killings thoroughly considering every possibility. We have to work together. Terrorists try to destroy our way of life.”
The US envoy said nothing could diminish the extraordinary accomplishments made by Bangladesh in a very short period of time.
“Bangladesh has a prime minister who has taken a zero tolerance approach to terrorism,” Bernicat said, adding, “As partners over the years, we have developed the resources, the commitment, and the shared experiences we need to counter terrorism and violent extremism.
"This is a global issue that requires a coordinated, global approach."
Referring to Prime Minister Hasina's speech at the UNGA, Bernicat said her speech was powerful where Hasina said terrorism and violent extremism remain major impediments to global peace and development and terrorists do not have any religion and boundary.
THREATS IN BANGLADESH
Asked about the basis of credible information on threats in Bangladesh, Bernicat said in order for any threat to be considered credible, they look at whole range of sources, public, from their partners and their own sources.
“That is certainly the case here.”
On another question, she said, “When ISIL takes credit for such incidents anywhere in the world, they [the US] seek to verify that information.
“We are in the process of knowing whether those claims were accurate. It helps us and all partners to be able to better track terrorist activities around the world,” she said.
“We know that there were credible threat issues before the first killing took place. If there is sufficient details, if there is targeting involved and methodology involved, that consisted of credible threat,” she said.
However, she said their advisory does not say do not come to Bangladesh. Even it does not say leave Bangladesh. “Our advisory said please exercise caution. We shared that information with our citizens not to create panic but to act cautiously.”
She said the US wants the people to remain more alert and make sure people were paying attention to it.
Bernicat, however, said they feel safer now than before following the security measures taken by the government.
Responding to a question on human rights situation, the US ambassador said the best remedy was to have investigation that was thorough, transparent and find out people who committed violations. “We will not just continue to express our concerns but we will offer help to address those issues,” she added.
On US-Bangladesh ties, Bernicat said the relationship is stronger than ever and their interests are more closely aligned and the US would continue to support Bangladesh as it tackles the new Sustainable Development Goals recently adopted at the UNGA in New York.
“Our development partnership has been exceptionally fruitful, producing tangible results that both the United States and Bangladesh can point to with pride,” she said.