Security agencies in Bangladesh have heightened vigilance at international airports in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet after an executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently expressed a fear that Al Qaeda may target the sites in Bangladesh and India, a senior official of an anti-terror unit said on Thursday.
Visiting Regional Vice-President, Asia Pacific, IATA Conard Clifford told a seminar in Dhaka on Wednesday that Al Qaeda terror network may target the airlines of South Asian region, especially Bangladesh and India.
About the threat Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon on Thursday told this correspondent that regional cooperation was needed to strengthen compliance with international aviation safety standards.
Despite limitations, Menon said that there should not be any compromise on safety of air transport. He expressed the view that IATA can develop a harmonised approach among the countries of this region.
Bangladesh has sought security expertise from them to develop a harmonised regional approach for ensuring aviation security, the minister said.
"As the airlines of Bangladesh and India are under terrorist threats, we'll have to follow the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and enhance cooperation among regional countries to ensure aviation security,"
Menon expressed the hope that Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) and IATA would work together to implement ICAO SARPs to ensure aviation security.
"We continuously evaluate the world situation and if we think there are improvements we need not unnecessarily disrupt the travelling public, we'll do that," the aviation minister said.
Bangladesh international airports provide services to 28 international airlines and the authorities are determined to provide security to these airlines. The airlines carry 7.5 million passengers per year," he added.
The rapid development of technology is also needed to enhance cargo scanning, which is a painstaking effort to ensure flight safety, Menon said.
The threat among the civil aviation has been perceived after Al-Qaeda recently announced plans to expand operations in India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Most-wanted jihadist Zawahiri said the group will defend the "vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent, in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Kashmir."
Wing Commander Mufti Mahmud Khan, Director of Media of elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) told this correspondent that there was a terrorist threat to this country and it remained.
"People should not overreact or over-speculate about what's going on, but there clearly are concerns centred on aviation security that we need to be vigilant about," said the official of anti-terror unit RAB.