The US has highly appreciated Bangladesh’s role in combating terrorism saying its counterterrorism efforts made it harder for transnational terrorists to operate in or establish safe havens in Bangladeshi territory but said the judiciary moved slowly in processing terrorism and other criminal cases in general.
“…Bangladesh has demonstrated its commitment to combating domestic and transnational terrorist groups,” the ‘Country Reports on Terrorism 2012’ of the US State Department said in its Bangladesh part.
It mentioned that the South Asia remains a frontline in the battle against terrorism.
US assistance supports programmes for Bangladeshi civilian, law enforcement, and military counterparts to build their capacity to monitor, detect, and prevent terrorism.
The report considers Bangladesh as an influential counterterrorism partner in the region, and mentioned that the country continued to make strides against domestic and international terrorism. Besides, Bangladesh and India improved and expanded counterterrorism cooperation.
Despite the absence of major terrorist incidents on their territory, governments in the five Central Asian states were concerned about the possibility of a growing threat connected to changes in the international force presence in Afghanistan in 2014.
Legislation, Law Enforcement and Border Security
Bangladesh’s criminal justice system is in the process of fully implementing the Antiterrorism Act of 2009. However, the judiciary moved slowly in processing terrorism and other criminal cases in general.
Bangladesh cooperated with the United States to further strengthen control of its borders and land, sea, and air ports of entry. It continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program and cooperated with the Department of Justice’s efforts to provide prosecutorial skills training to its assistant public prosecutors, encourage greater cooperation between police and prosecutors, and institute community policing in targeted areas of the country.
With financial support from the United States and other partners, Bangladesh established a National Academy for Security Training in 2012 and began to provide counterterrorism training courses.
Countering Terrorist Finance
Bangladesh is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body.
The Bangladesh Bank (the central bank) and its Financial Intelligence Unit/Anti-Money Laundering Section lead the government's effort to comply with the international sanctions regime.
FATF has identified Bangladesh’s implementation of UNSCRs 1267 and 1373 as a deficiency in its laws. Bangladesh formed an interagency committee to address this issue, and has drafted regulations to implement both of these provisions.
While Bangladesh’s Anti-Terrorism Act criminalised terrorist financing, FATF has recommended that Bangladesh amend its laws to meet international standards and to clarify remaining ambiguities.
The interagency committee mentioned above has begun revising the legislation to satisfy FATF’s concerns in this regard.
Regional and International Cooperation
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.
Bangladesh’s foreign and domestic policies are heavily influenced by the region’s major powers, particularly India.
In past years the Indo-Bangladesh relationship provided openings for transnational threats, but the current government has demonstrated its interest in regional cooperation on counterterrorism. Bangladesh was active in the full range of international fora.
In 2012, Bangladesh enacted a mutual legal assistance law that will allow for greater international cooperation. It has also signed memoranda of understanding with a number of countries to share evidence regarding criminal investigations, including investigations related to financial crimes and terrorist financing.
Countering Radicalisation and Violent Extremism
Bangladesh uses strategic communication to counter violent extremism, especially among youth.
The Ministry of Education provides oversight for madrassas and is developing a standard national curriculum that includes language, math, and science curricula; and minimum standards of secular subjects to be taught in all primary schools, up to the eighth grade.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and the National Committee on Militancy Resistance and Prevention work with imams and religious scholars to build public awareness against terrorism.
“The Government of Bangladesh is also actively expanding economic opportunities for women as it views economic empowerment for women as a buffer against violent extremist messages of male religious leaders,” the report says.
About Pakistan it said the country continued to experience significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks.
Although terrorist attacks occurred in 85 different countries in 2012, they were heavily concentrated geographically. As in recent years, over half of all attacks (55%), fatalities (62%), and injuries (65%) occurred in just three countries: Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the report says.