There are thousands of al-Qaeda-trained extremists in Bangladesh who have links to military autocratic forces as well as international terrorist groups, says Hasanul Haq Inu, Minister of Information in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government.
“At least 8,000 Bangladeshi men were trained by Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. They returned home and ever since, the threat perception has been high. There is an alliance between military autocratic forces, covert domestic terrorists, and the international terrorist networks in Bangladesh and we are fighting them,” Mr. Haq said while interacting with a group of foreign journalists at his official residence in the city.
He said Bangladesh has been successful in preventing mass casualty attacks by terrorists despite a series of murders of bloggers and secular activists. Such lone-wolf terror strikes are hard to pre-empt, he said.
“No one can be fully secure. But in Bangladesh, we have ensured that the terrorists do not get to launch major attacks like the ones they carried out in Brussels and Paris,” Mr. Haq said while highlighting how the government has managed to maintain order despite allegations of human rights violations and custodial deaths.
The Minister claimed that the crackdown on terrorism in Bangladesh is being carried out within the democratic constitutional limits and excesses have not been committed.
He also acknowledged that political parties also cooperate with each other and keep channels of communication open despite a visible show of antipathy between the ruling Awami League, led by Prime Minister Hasina, and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by Khaleda Zia.
“I have fought terrorism all my life. I was trained in India during the Liberation War and led a battalion of 10,000 guerrilla fighters. We will defeat terrorism in Bangladesh,” Mr. Haq added.