Bangladesh scrambles to confront al-Qaeda threat

Home Minister says 'We have been working on curbing militancy for a long time'

Dhaka: Bangladesh has ordered a fresh probe if any local militant outfits have links with al-Qaeda while intelligence agencies brace to confront the latest threat from the group after it established a South Asian wing.

"We've learnt that after the message India has issued a red alert. We are also taking the matter seriously," State Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said yesterday while officials said the intelligence agencies were ordered to check authenticity of al-Qaeda's latest video message and its possible links with any Bangladeshi outfit.

Kamal, however, did not elaborate immediately saying the government would officially issue a statement on the issue shortly as "we are looking into the al-Qaeda video message. We have been working on curbing militancy for a long time".

But officials preferring anonymity said immediately after the release of the al-Qaeda video on Wednesday, the police headquarters ordered enhanced surveillance over a dozen 'madrassas' or Islamic seminaries which are dominated or run by ultra-right Islamist groups or parties including Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam.

The Daily Star newspaper quoting unidentified intelligence officials today reported that despite the security clampdown on Bangladeshi militant outfits and bringing their top leaders to justice over the past several years, "still there were some al-Qaeda followers in Bangladesh".

These followers, they said, received militant training in Afghanistan and fought for al-Qaeda abroad and they were involved in militancy in the country as well.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri on Wednesday announced the formation of an Indian branch of his militant group to spread Islamic rule and "raise the flag of jihad" across the subcontinent.

Sixty-three-year-old Zawahri described the formation of "Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent" as "glad tidings" for Muslims "in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir" and added the new wing would rescue Muslims there from "injustice and oppression".

The latest al-Qaeda message came seven months after Zawahiri in an unconfirmed statement called on Bangladeshi

Muslims to launch a "Jihad" against western nations and claimed the country was a victim of plots hatched by Indian agents and Pakistani military.

Several security and political analysts, however, believe Zawahiri's latest call comes as al-Qaeda's ageing leaders are struggling to compete for recruits with the Islamic State terror group (IS) which has galvanised young followers around the world by carving out tracts of territory across the Iraq-Syria border.

( Source : PTI )
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