Washington yesterday reassured Dhaka about extending all-out assistance in countering violent extremism and terrorism before it took root in Bangladesh.
While conveying the US message, diplomats of the country now on a visit to Bangladesh, said they consider Bangladesh an important country since it, being a moderate Muslim country, could be a key player in dealing with the problem of violent extremism.
“The message is we bring assistance and we want to coordinate with your government to find out what your government needs and what your civil society and others need and to make sure we are offering the right kinds of assistance,” US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat said after emerging from a meeting with the home minister.
"The entire world is now exposed to terrorist attacks. Some isolated incidents are taking place in Bangladesh, carried out by home-grown terrorists," Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told newsmen following a lengthy meeting with the 15-member US delegation led by US State Department's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs William E Todd.
"We don't want to be the victim of any terrorist attacks, we want to prevent terrorists before they launch such an attack and thus we sought US's assistance to successfully combat those attacks in the country. They [the US] agreed to provide us with the assistance and we will work unitedly to counter terrorism," he said.
Prior to their meeting with the home minister, the US delegation had a meeting with a BNP delegation and Prime Minister's Adviser HT Imam, and later held a lengthy meeting with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam and senior officials of the foreign ministry.
Diplomatic and official sources said the government leaders have welcomed the US offer for assistance and called for advance intelligence information before any terrorist or extremist attack takes place. Dhaka also sought US assistance in training security forces in Bangladesh and further strengthening and expanding the newly floated Counter-Terrorism Unit.
The ministers and officials informed the US delegation about Bangladesh's success in combating terrorist attacks and foiling extremists' attacks.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, the home minister alleged that conspiracies, both at home and abroad, were being hatched against Bangladesh and that the government, with the help of the people and the police, was dealing with such conspiracies.
Responding to a query about diplomats' concern over security in diplomatic zones, he said security has been beefed up in diplomatic zones and the visiting US representatives have expressed their satisfaction over the security measures.
Speaking on behalf of the visiting team, US envoy Bernicat said the US experts on countering-terrorism and violent extremism had a very good discussion with the Bangladesh officials about how the US could expand its cooperation. “We find a very strong partner in Bangladesh and in this fight and global fight together.”
“The point is you need everyone in the society and in the country fighting terrorism. The government and police cannot do all in any country and so we are sharing lessons we have learnt from working within the United States and working with other countries and how to bring everybody productively into that fight together so we had consultation with regards how to keep Bangladesh safe.”
Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Miah, Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit chief Monirul Islam, among others, were present at the meeting.
Meanwhile, a five-member US delegation, led by Deputy Coordinator of Counter-terrorism Bureau Marie Richards, met the inspector general of police and assured him of US assistance for Bangladesh police in enhancing skills and efficiency in countering expansion of extremism through social media and information technology.