- Bangladesh holds 43rd position in Global Terrorism Index in 2023
- Terrorism Index decreased to 3.83 points in 2022 from 4.41 points in 2021
- No major militant incident in Bangladesh in 2022
The extremist groups in Bangladesh strategically exploit religious sentiments to pursue immoral objectives. Their primary goal is to provoke conflict, leveraging religion for nasty purposes. The influence of terrorism extends beyond physical activities, with a growing involvement of youths through social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Telegram.
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Over the past 15 years, Bangladesh has made significant progress in addressing terrorism, particularly since the current government adopted a zero-tolerance policy in 2009. As of 2023, Bangladesh holds the 43rd position on the Global Terrorism Index, showcasing notable progress in countering terrorist activities.
According to the Terrorism Index, Bangladesh stands out as the second most successful South Asian country in combating terrorism. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other government officials consistently emphasize the nation’s unwavering commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism. As a result, there is no presence of globally organized jihadist militant groups, such as al-Qa’ida and ISIS, in Bangladesh.
US applauds Bangladesh’s progress
The progress made by Bangladesh in countering terrorism has received appreciation from the United States, as highlighted in the “Country Reports on Terrorism 2022” released by the US State Department’s Counter Terrorism Bureau on November 30. The report attributes Bangladesh’s success to its robust zero-tolerance policy, resulting in a limited number of terrorist violence incidents in 2022.
According to the report, Bangladeshi authorities, particularly targeting al-Qa’ida-affiliated groups, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB), and the ISIS-affiliated JMB offshoot Neo-JMB, rigorously pursued militants throughout the year. Notably, law enforcement operations, supported by US-trained personnel, successfully dismantled Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya (JAHS) in October. The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) played a crucial role in apprehending numerous suspected terrorists associated with JAHS, an alleged al-Qaeda-inspired group that organized training in the Chittagong Hill Tracts for potential attacks.
The report underscores Bangladesh’s capacity to secure its borders, both water and land, citing substantial progress in screening goods and passengers through enhanced equipment, and increased manpower at ports.
Major incidents in recent years
Law enforcement agencies uncovered an extremist training center in the Chittagong Hills during the last quarter of 2022. A thorough search operation exposed a trove of materials, including leaflets, radical literature, training syllabi, and accounting books. Approximately 80 young individuals from different regions, some previously reported missing by their families, were identified as affiliated with the group.
In response to the escalating threat, Bangladeshi authorities initiated operations in October to disrupt Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya (JAHS), an organization allegedly inspired by al-Qa’ida and actively training in the Chittagong Hill Tracts for potential attacks elsewhere. Authorities accused JAHS of collaboration with the Kuki-Chin National Front, an ethnic separatist militant organization. Subsequent to the announcement, dozens of JAHS members were apprehended throughout the remainder of the year.
Terrorism Index improvement
Bangladesh has achieved significant progress in counterterrorism efforts, earning the distinction of being the second most improved country in South Asia, according to the latest Global Terrorism Index (GTI). The country has descended two spots to secure the 43rd rank among 163 nations, with a commendable score of 3.827 on the GTI index.
The scoring mechanism considers a comprehensive range of factors, including deaths, incidents, hostages, and injuries resulting from terrorism, weighed over a five-year period. The GTI assigns scores on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 denotes no impact on terrorism, and 10 represents the highest measurable impact. A higher rank coupled with a lower score signifies a lower impact on terrorism.
Comparatively, Afghanistan tops the list as the nation with the most pronounced impact of terrorism, receiving a score of 8.827. The GTI report, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) utilizing data from Terrorism Tracker and other reliable sources, provides a comprehensive analysis of global terrorism trends.
Terrorism Index in Bangladesh decreased to 3.83 Points in 2022 from 4.41 Points in 2021. Terrorism Index in Bangladesh averaged 4.80 Points from 2002 until 2022, reaching a record low of 3.83 Points in 2022.
How Bangladesh made this constant progress?
Bangladesh’s consistent progress in counterterrorism can be attributed to a multifaceted and comprehensive strategy. The nation upholds a steadfast “zero-tolerance” policy against terrorism and violent extremism, exemplifying a commitment to eradicating such threats. Notably, Bangladesh has embraced a ‘whole-of-society’ approach, incorporating de-radicalization and counter-terrorism issues into the school curriculum to raise awareness among the populace.
In a strategic move to control militant activities, the government enacted the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2009, subsequently amending it in 2012 and 2013. The pivotal amendment in 2012 introduced capital punishment for specific crimes under the Act, reinforcing the severity of consequences for terrorist activities. The 2013 amendment empowered law enforcement by recognizing discussions and interactions on platforms like Facebook, Skype, Twitter, or any internet site as admissible evidence in court when presented by the police or relevant agencies for investigative purposes.
Furthermore, the government established the Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) within the Bangladesh Police in September 2017. Positioned as a proactive, intelligence-led, and technologically advanced specialized unit, the ATU plays a crucial role in combating terrorism. To enhance the unit’s capabilities, the government approved “The Anti-Terrorism Unit Rules” in November 2019. By legal mandate, the ATU serves as the lead coordinating, operating, and investigating body for countering terrorism (CT), countering violent extremism (CVE), and preventing violent extremism (PVE) nationwide.
These comprehensive government initiatives have returned significant success, leading to a substantial reduction in terrorism incidents in Bangladesh.