Internal political strife threatens Bangladesh progress: US report

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Dhaka, May 1 (UNI) The US State Department has appreciated the Bangladesh government's efforts in curbing terrorism but noted that porous borders and internal political strife threatened the progress made against violent extremists.

''Although the Caretaker Government made a concerted effort to crack down on corruption and address the root causes of violent extremism within its borders, mistrust between Bangladesh and India stymied potential counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries,'' the department said.

The observations were made in the State Department Country Report on Terrorism-2007 released in Washington yesterday.

The report said US and Bangladeshi law-enforcement agencies cooperated well on several cases related to domestic and international terrorism.

The United States continued to fund Anti-terrorism Assistance programmes for Bangladeshi security forces, it said.

Bangladesh also continued cooperation with the United States to strengthen control of its borders and land, sea, and air ports of entry, it added.

The report noted that Bangladesh's caretaker government pledged to pass a series of amendments that would strengthen Bangladesh's Anti-Money Laundering Act and a draft Anti-Terrorism Act, but failed to do so by the end of the year.

''The legislation would help Bangladesh enter Egmont, the international body of Financial Intelligence Units that plays a critical role in fighting terror financing,'' the report said.

It mentioned that Bangladesh continued to arrest dozens of alleged members of Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB), the banned Islamic extremist group responsible for a wave of bombings and suicide attacks in late 2005, and recovered bomb-making materials and weapons from their hideouts.

The arrests, combined with the execution in March of six senior JMB leaders, appeared to have depleted the membership of the outfit.

Although there was speculation that JMB remnants might try to reorganise to launch a new wave of attacks, no such terror campaign unfolded, the report added.

It noted that the caretaker government took a strong stance against corruption and arrested many leading politicians and businessmen on graft charges.

The United States launched a 20 million dollars, five-year anti-corruption programme in Bangladesh to further transparency and good governance efforts, necessary foundations for counterterrorism activity, the report said.

UNI XC RJ VC1912

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