International terrorists now consider Bangladesh as a safer place than Pakistan and Afghanistan, top security experts have warned, amid increasing number of leaders of militant outfits, including Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed being arrested from the country.
"The recent arrests of some leaders and activists of LeT and JeM in and around Dhaka are the signs that the terrorists are considering Bangladesh as a softer destination," said Major General (retired) ANM Muniruzzaman, the president of Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies. He said, "Terrorists have been finding new places to hide (in Bangladesh) as authorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan are becoming tough on militants."
Underlining the need to beef up anti-terror mechanism in the country, Muniruzzaman said BIPSS research showed that more than 30 militant organisations were active in Bangladesh.
"These organisations would be helpful for those trying to take cover here," he was quoted as saying by the Star Online. Muniruzzaman highlighted the need for joint collaboration by South Asian countries to address the problem.
"It cannot be curbed without mutual cooperation," he said. John Harrison, head of research of Singapore based International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, pointed out the inadequate security measures of Shahjalal international airport in the capital. Top officials from National Security Intelligence, Rapid Action Battalion, Criminal Investigation Department, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Rifles and Ansar and VDP are participating in the five-day workshop.
Amid earlier warning that Islamist militants may be trying to regroup, the police and paramilitary forces have conducted massive anti-militancy operations across Bangladesh. Islamist militant outfits, including Jamaatul-Mujahedin Bangladesh and Harkatul Jihad Islami, have carried out a series of terrorist attacks to establish a Sharia-based Islamic state, leading to the deaths of hundreds of people in the last few years.
Sheikk Hasina, who assumed office as prime minister in January after a landslide election win on December 29, 2008, has looked beyond her borders to tackle the terror menace by floating the idea of a regional mechanism involving all states in South Asia.