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Bangladesh seeks US help to track militants' cash

Written by: Staff
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DHAKA, May 18 (Reuters) Bangladesh sought help from the United States today to track the financing of militant groups following a spate of bomb attacks, a senior official said.

''We requested them to provide technical assistance for our capacity-building (to detect militant funding) as it is a new phenomenon for us,'' central bank Governor Salehuddin Ahmed told reporters.

He was speaking after a meeting in Dhaka with Patrick O'Brien, US Treasury Secretary for terrorist financing.

Mainly Muslim Bangladesh was hit by a wave of Islamist militant bomb attacks between August and December 2005 that killed at least 30 people.

The Islamist groups, which are seeking the introduction of sharia law, have largely been disbanded since key leaders were arrested in March. The government is now attempting to starve them of funds, officials said.

''We came here to see (Bangladesh's) progress and they have informed us of their performance,'' O'Brien told reporters.

After the bombings, banks have to report all deals above 500,000 taka (7,221 dollars) or face action.

The central bank last month fined the country's top sharia-based commercial bank, Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd (IBBL) for transactions linked to Islamist militants. State-owned Sonali Bank was fined last week for not reporting a suspicious account.

Intelligence officials say the country's two outlawed Islamist groups -- Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen and Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh -- have channeled funding from West Asia through IBBL and other local banks.

REUTERS PR ND1636

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