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US ‘security threat alert’ unwarranted: PM’s sharp reaction timely, justified

Published : Monday, 8 April, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1113
Observer special

The US Embassy in Dhaka has issued security threat alert last Thursday, reportedly 'in the wake of calls for revenge' relating to the March 15 terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand where at least 50 Muslim worshippers have been brutally murdered.

We practically fail to understand the actual reason for issuing such security threat alert to ensure safety and security of US interests and citizens in Bangladesh. Most importantly, if such fear truly exists, the US government should have issued security threat alert not in Bangladesh but in New Zealand, the recent spot of the terror attack.

Responding to the US threat alert, our Prime Minister has justly asked for an explanation. She has also asked the US authorities to share information if any with Bangladesh government about possible attacks and the extremist groups who may be engaged in carrying out the attacks. She has vindicated the anguish and hurt feeling of the entire nation over the frequent security threat alert by Western countries against Bangladesh. Logically speaking, if the US intelligence agencies have any information, they must share that information with us or our intelligence agencies to help us for being prepared in advance to deal with extreme and unwarranted terror attacks. In the 21st century's reality - terrorism, extremism and fundamentalism cannot be fought alone in one front and that has been proved time and again by America's global War on Terror after 9/11 attack on Twin Tower in New York.

Reflecting back, the incidence of cross-border and international terror strikes only increased against the backdrop of American military involvement in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq. The creed of terrorism does not follow national boundaries, religions or ethical teachings.   

Mutual understanding and cooperation is a must for combating terrorism in the world, since innocent Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and even non - believers have all become victims of terror attacks. It's not only the Americans who have become exclusive target of terrorists. More Muslims have been killed from the attacks in various countries of the Middle East , Africa , Afghanistan and Pakistan than to the rest of the world. The reason for stating this fact, security alerts in a foreign country should not be issued for protecting a particular non - Muslim community but to ensure safety and security of all communities.

USA and Bangladesh have been principal strategic military allies for the last few years and have jointly organised joint military exercises on a regular basis. Now is the time for combating the menace of extremism and terrorism through exchange of intelligence information instead of issuing security alerts based on misperception or whims.
Terror attacks had occurred in many European countries with increased frequency than in Bangladesh. We never saw the US government imposing travel ban on US travellers or to issue security alerts in those countries. 
Are we to believe, Bangladesh is a "special case"?

 Apart from the lone Holey Artisan restaurant attack in 2016, there has not been any small or big scale terror attack taking place in Bangladesh. No foreign national was either killed or abducted. More to it, the world is witness to how effectively and successfully the current government has waged an uncompromising war by pursuing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's zero tolerance to extremism and terrorism. 

Hundreds of listed and unlisted extremists and fundamentalists have been arrested in the last three years; scores of militant hideouts have been discovered and sealed for good. Besides the operations by RAB, Police, the government even introduced an elite para - military force to curb terrorism and militancy in the country. These facts should have been considered prior to issuing of the security threat alert by the US Embassy in Bangladesh.

Not to forget, there were five Bangladeshis among the victims of New Zealand mosque attacks. Yet Bangladesh government refrained from issuing a travel ban on Bangladeshis travelling to that country. The government also did not issue any security threat alert for Bangladesh nationals through diplomatic channels. The government only issued a travel advisory warning - merely a safety precaution - for citizens travelling to New Zealand and Australia respectively in the wake of recent terror attacks on mosques. It only proves that Bangladesh considers terrorism as a global threat and predicament - not as an issue of racial and religious hatred and discrimination in any country.

Such unexplained and unexpected security alert also negatively impacts the global reputation of a country like Bangladesh which is being praised for economic progress, social development and women empowerment.. And imposing travel ban on Bangladesh will only add up giving an adverse name of Bangladesh to the rest of the world. Furthermore, the security alert is likely to hit Bangladesh's economy by discouraging foreign investment, exports and the tourism sector. Following the recent alert other Western countries may well become discouraged in Bangladesh's trade, investment and tourism.

Also it is not that the present government hasn't done anything for protecting foreign nationals in Bangladesh, especially when the diplomatic zone has been heavily fortified with more than twice the number of intelligence and security personnel. In fact, the security shield has been made so strong that local residents of the diplomatic zone area often finds it difficult to commute freely without inspection checks. The government and the people of Bangladesh want to show security to foreigners is an utmost priority to us.

The latest US security threat alert clearly smacks of distrust and religious discrimination. US leadership, including its intelligence agencies must come out of its myopic perception and unnecessary fear. Rather they should become more engaged with Bangladesh and other Muslim countries for effectively and strategically combat terrorism worldwide.

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