Bangladesh police identifies 4,031 Islamic militants banned by the government
by Sumon Corraya

Law enforcement released a report covering the last two years. Of the 1,346 militants released on bail, 219 fled to organise new terrorist actions. The government plans to build 560 model mosques and Islamic cultural centres to teach that "Islam is a religion of peace".

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Bangladesh’s police anti-terrorism unit released its latest report on the fight against Islamic terrorism covering the past two years.  It identifies 4,031 Islamic militants: 3,022 are currently in detention and 1,346 are out on bail.

The militants belong to five Islamic groups banned by the government, namely Harkat-ul Jihad, Hisbut Tahari, Ansurulla Bangla Team, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, and New Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen.

The report says that in two years 70 terrorists were killed in shootouts, including those who carried out the attack against the Holey Artisan Bakery Café in Dhaka, in which 20 people were killed, including nine Italians. After the attack, the government went after militants across the country.

The authorities also announced that the security forces killed all the leaders of the five terrorist organisations in military operations. However, among the militants released on bail, 219 have fled and are trying to organise new terrorist activities.

"Fighting extremism is our mission,” said Shariful Islam, additional Inspector General of Police and head of the anti-terrorism unit, speaking to journalists.

“We are really working to remove all forms of militant activity from Bangladesh,” he explained. “We have taken the problem seriously after the Gulshan café attack.”

 “The extremists have harmed Bangladesh’s image by attacking foreigners,” he lamented. However, “Our operations have won us admiration.”

“Still, militants are operating in silence, and several terrorists have become radicalised on the Internet,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated nine model mosques and centres of Islamic culture via videoconference from Ganabhaban, her official residence.

"We want to build a country that is not sectarian,” she said. “People must be free to practice their own religion. This is the basic principle of Islam."

To achieve this, the government is planning 560 model mosques in each of the country’s districts. From these, "We want people to learn the true teachings of Islam,” the prime minister explained. “We want the image of our sacred religion to be upheld. Islam is a religion of peace. We want peace to prevail."