Alert in Bangladesh on Eid a routine affair: Home Minister

By Sumi Khan
Dhaka, July 28 : The Eid ul-Azha will be celebrated in Bangladesh as a three-day national holiday, starting July 31, amid terrorist threat of attack on various places, including religious sites, embassies and the police establishments, by the neo-Jamaat-ul Mujahideen (neo JMB).

According to intelligence input, the militant organisations could announce formation of a new wing “Bengal Ulayat” ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha, by indulging in subversive acts. The government has beefed up security to prevent any such incident.

The US embassy has also asked its citizens to remain alert and make sensible security and health-related decisions.

But Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, Minister of Home Affairs of Bangladesh, in an exclusive interview with IANS, here on Tuesday evening, denied any security threat or possibility of any militant attack. The security alert was a routine affair, Kamal said.
Excerpts:

Q: The US Embassy in Dhaka has given out a security notice. Is it regarding the recent instruction of the Bangladesh Police Headquarters (PHQ)?

A: People in the American block, sometimes, get upset when they find something wrong, even trivial! I don’t think there is anything serious to alert foreigners or local people.

Q: Is not it based on the police instructions? The PHQ has said the ‘neo JMB’ could try to carry out subversive acts and has issued alert…

A: The police are saying a little too much. Actually, it’s a routine work to monitor the militant outfits. We are always alert. But has it (militant activities) stopped? No. It’s continuing.

Now militants recruit members online. They are converting Indian girls to carry out terrorist activities and to spread their message among women. We have nabbed some.

They (militants) recently placed a fake grenade on the motorcycle of a police officer in Dhaka. But the police are active and have arrested all suspects.

We remain alert and are working all the time to prevent militant attacks. Everything is under control.

Q: Is there any special force to monitor militants?

A: No. Why Bangladesh would need a special force? What has happened in the country? You move around the capital, have you noticed anything anywhere?

Q: You think, there is nothing to worry about the security?

A: Actually, August is a month to stay alert for our government. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibar Rahman and his family members were assassinated on August 15, 1975. On August 21, 2004, there was a grenade attack on an anti-terrorism rally organised by the Awami League at the Bangabandhu Avenue during the BNP-Jamaat alliance rule, aiming to kill then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina.

As many as 24 leaders and activists, including Awami League’s women affairs secretary and late President Mohammed Zillur Rahman’s wife Ivy Rahman, were killed and 300 others injured in the attack.

Though Sheikh Hasina (Prime Minister) escaped unhurt, her hearing was affected badly.

Those conspiracies are still on. We do need to be careful. In 2016, a suicide bomb attack on Bangladesh’s largest gathering for the Eid prayer killed two police officers.

In another militant attack on the Holey Artisan Cafe in Dhaka, 22 people, mostly foreigners, were killed. The 12-hour siege was Bangladesh’s deadliest Islamist attack. All of the gunmen were killed by police.

Q: Is there any threat of a militant attack this August?

A: No way! The militants’ capacity to attack has been destroyed. They are no longer a major force in Bangladesh. They have no power.

Q: Yet, the police arrested 5 active militants of banned Ansar Al Islam on July 26 night…

A: Most of them become active around August. Several arrested militants had disclosed about their August target. That’s why we become careful about the law enforcement in this month.

The militants have ‘sleeper cells’. They use different strategies to show off. But there is nothing to worry about. We are monitoring them closely. They can’t reorganise and carry out subversive activities.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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