Dhaka keeping tabs on radicalised Bangladeshis with dual citizenships

Bangladesh police officials stand alert at the scene of an operation to storm an alleged militant hideout in Dhaka, on Dec 24, 2016.
Bangladesh police officials stand alert at the scene of an operation to storm an alleged militant hideout in Dhaka, on Dec 24, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA • Radicalised Bangladeshis with dual citizenships have become a major challenge for counter-terrorism teams, according to a major local daily.

Officials dealing with militancy told The Daily Star that law enforcers have little information about Bangladesh-origin foreign nationals who secretly travelled to Iraq or Syria from abroad and joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

With ISIS gradually losing battles in Iraq and Syria, its members are being driven out of their territories and forced to look for shelter in other countries.

Bangladesh-origin ISIS recruits, who have dual citizenships, might now want to come to Bangladesh for shelter as they would face arrest if they returned to the countries they fled to join the terror group.

"We have already started communicating with different countries to collect information about Bangladeshis with dual citizenships who left the countries to fight for IS," Deputy Inspector General Monirul Islam, chief of the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said recently, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.

He admitted that the authorities do not have details about such ISIS militants.

Investigators added that they suspect the number of Bangladesh-origin ISIS militants with dual citizenships would not be very small. They could not provide a figure.

"Such IS operatives have every chance of getting arrested if they return to the countries where they lived before leaving for IS territories, as the authorities have detailed information about them," said a top official of the CTTC unit.

"So, having dual citizenship, they will try to enter Bangladesh. With no information about their conduct, the authorities here will not question their entry," he added.

Another official said any such ISIS operative would not sit idle after entering Bangladesh.

He would definitely try to recruit people and carry out attacks using experience gained from battlegrounds.

In the case of Bangladeshis who do not have dual citizenships and left the country to join ISIS, Mr Monirul Islam said they would not be able to enter Bangladesh undetected as the authorities have information about them.

THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2017, with the headline 'Dhaka keeping tabs on radicalised Bangladeshis with dual citizenships'. Print Edition | Subscribe