U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2004 - Bangladesh

Bangladesh supports the global war on terror but its ability to combat terrorism is undermined by weak institutions, porous borders, limited law enforcement capabilities, and debilitating in-fighting between the two major political parties.

Bangladesh's long tradition of inclusive, moderate Islam is increasingly under threat from extremist alternatives, already offering an attractive breeding ground for political and sectarian violence. Endemic corruption, poverty, and a stalemated political process could further contribute to the type of instability and widespread frustration that has elsewhere provided recruits, support, and safe haven to international terrorist groups.

There was an increase in political violence using explosives in 2004. In May, the British High Commissioner and more than 70 others were injured in a grenade attack in Sylhet. In August, approximately 20 Awami League supporters were killed, and 200 injured during an attack on the party's opposition rally in Dhaka.

Bangladesh, with US technical assistance, is strengthening police institutions with a professionalization program, enhancing police and banking capabilities to combat terrorist financing, and strengthening border control systems to detect suspicious travel and improve the integrity of Bangladeshi travel documents. The United States is assisting Bangladesh in developing new, stronger laws to enhance banking oversight and enforcement and in creating a financial intelligence unit (FIU). The Government is committed to enforcing UN Security Council resolutions and actions related to terrorism, including the identification and freezing of assets of individuals and organizations designated as terrorists or terrorist supporters, such as the Saudi-based charity al-Haramain Foundation. It also ordered the closure of the local Rabita Trust office and the departure from Bangladesh of its expatriate staff.

The Bangladesh military maintains a large presence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and has been successful in locating hidden weapons. In April it seized a large cache of weapons in Chittagong harbor. Bangladesh is taking steps to improve its effectiveness in preventing maritime smuggling and its capabilities in terrorist interdiction operations.


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