No evidence of ISIS' presence in Bangladesh: Alam

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Washington, Feb 13: Bangladesh is determined to deal with terrorists and shares intelligence with countries like India and the US to address the menace, a senior minister has said as he refuted the US intelligence's observation that the Islamic State could expand their presence in the country.

"On the ground, in the investigations that we have carried out, we did not get any evidence of ISIS links as yet," Bangladesh's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam He dismissed the analysis of the American intelligence community that ISIS could gain ground in Bangladesh by exploiting attempts by the ruling Awami League to undermine the political opposition.

"I do not think, any terrorist or groups would ever gain permanent or semi-permanent ground in Bangladesh," Alam, who is the first foreign leader to meet the new US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, told PTI.

During their meeting, Alam and Shannon reviewed the strength and breadth of Bangladesh-US relationship. "Our relationship with the United States in the last two years has reached a new height. Both sides agree that we are happy with the level of co-operation with each other," he said after his meetings with State Department officials including Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal.

During his meetings at the State Department, Alam said he raised Bangladeshi government's disappointment on recent statement of James Clapper Director of National Intelligence that the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's continuing efforts to undermine the political opposition in Bangladesh will probably provide openings for transnational terrorist groups to expand their presence in the country.

Alam said that terrorism of Bangladesh in the past during BNP-Jamaat regime flourished under State sponsorship. Investigations into the recent killings of bloggers and two foreigners certainly indicate that those behind these heinous killings had links with Jamaat-e-Islam or were active member of Jamaat-e-Islamic or to some extent were linked with greater alliance between Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and Jamaat.

He said Hasina Government has a "zero tolerance policy" and would continue to pursue that beyond its borders also. "That means supporting and working in tandem with the neighbouring countries and exchange intelligence information with countries like US or India or European countries," he said. "The government is determined to deal with them (terrorists)," he said.

PTI 

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