The United States yesterday said it was ready to help Bangladesh fight terrorism and violent extremism by providing it with experts and technical support.
Nisha Desai Biswal, US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, made the offer to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina when she met the PM at her office, reports UNB.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim said Biswal invited the PM to co-chair a high-level event on migration with US President Barack Obama in New York. The programme will be held on the sidelines of the 71st UN General Assembly in September.
The two leaders also discussed the issue of the recent secret killings in Bangladesh. Biswal stressed the need for developing a “better understanding” between the two countries to counter terrorism.
Meanwhile, the US assistant secretary of state yesterday told journalists that her country will look forward to “see the conclusion of the government's efforts” to bring the perpetrators of Xulhaz murder to justice.
She was talking to newsmen after meeting Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan at his secretariat office.
Expressing concern over the recent killings in Bangladesh, Biswal said the USA and Bangladesh could share information on combating terrorism and violent extremism.
About terrorism, she said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made personal sacrifice. “She [prime minister] herself is a victim of terrorism as most of her family members were killed in the August 15 carnage in 1975.”
Biswal expressed satisfaction over stepping up security measures by the Bangladesh government for the safety of the US embassy staff.
Reiterating her government's “zero tolerance policy” against terrorism, Hasina said the government has always been vocal against terrorism and militancy.
About the recent killings of former USAID staff Xulhaz Mannan, imams of mosques, priests of temples and churches, the PM said they were “soft targets”. “These heinous killings were cold-blooded murders,” she added.
About the “conspiracy hatched in the USA against Sajeeb Wazed Joy”, the PM thanked the US government for bringing the accused to justice.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, PMO Secretary Suraiya Begum and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat were present.
'NO IS IN BANGLADESH'
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the government dislikes demeaning of religion by bloggers and the killings carried out targeting them.
“Bloggers should refrain from hurting religious sentiment,” he told reporters after the meeting with Biswal.
The murder of LGBT magazine editor Xulhaz Mannan, press freedom in Bangladesh, terrorism and US-Bangladesh partnership came up for discussion in the meeting, he added.
“We told her [Biswal] that there's no IS in Bangladesh. Some home-grown criminals were behind the recent terrorist attacks. They committed crimes to create panic among people and destabilise the country.”
The minister, however, claimed that the activities of home-grown criminals and militants were under control now.
The US assistant secretary of state said they were very “saddened and outraged” at the killing of Xulhaz.
“The brutal murder of Xulhaz Mannan, and to bring those perpetrators to justice and we are willing to support those efforts. However, we can and will look to see the conclusion of those efforts and those investigations,” she told newsmen.
Xulhaz and his friend Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were hacked to death in the capital's Kalabagan on April 25.
Diplomatic sources said the US official conveyed the message to the Bangladesh leadership that the USA was very much eager to work with Bangladesh to counter violent extremism before it takes root here.
Biswal during her meetings with top government leaders said they saw a series of terrorist attacks in Bangladesh over the last few months in which the ISIL took credit for. The incidents caused concern to the US about the potential for the ISIL taking root in Bangladesh, the sources told The Daily Star.
The US considers Bangladesh as an important country as it is a Muslim majority country with a moderate orientation. And that's why the US wants to boost cooperation with Bangladesh in dealing with violent extremism, according to the sources.
Biswal called upon the government to work seriously to find out whether the series attacks and brutal murders were carried out by local extremist groups or criminals affiliated with the ISIL.