As part of the process, the FBI wanted to let its members interrogate militant suspects arrested in recent months. However, the Bangladesh government has not shown any interest in this regard.
“They [the FBI] have told us that they have much knowledge and expertise in this matter and that they want to understand the militants' psychology. But the government has not yet responded positively,” a Foreign Ministry official said, declining to be named.
According to the official, who was not authorised to talk to media on the matter, the West believes that the Islamic State or other foreign terrorist groups are directly involved in the recent terror attacks in Bangladesh.
“Our government has been rejecting such claims outright,” the official said. “Everyone, from the prime minister to the ministers, has been saying that these militants are from local groups, not aliens. No foreigner is running militant activities here. But they [local militants] may have connection with the foreigners.”
The official continued: “Many of the militants may have involved in militancy while staying or studying abroad. However, they [FBI] do not have any information that these militants have conducted terror attacks or are running terror activities in Bangladesh upon getting direct orders from any foreign terrorist group.”
Bangladesh has witnessed a series of militant attacks on secular writers, rights activists, minorities, foreigners and law enforcers in the recent months – the worst was on July 1, when terrorists killed 22 people, mostly foreigners, at an upmarket restaurant at the heart of Dhaka’s diplomatic zone. International terrorist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.
A week later, four people, including two policemen, were killed in a militant attack on a police check post near the Sholakia Eid congregation site.
The government claims that a new faction of local banned militant group Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) was behind the two attacks. The group is also blamed for a number of targeted killings that took place since last year.
Since the Gulshan terror attack, more than a dozen members of the New JMB have been killed in raids and gunfights with the law enforcers. Some of them came from affluent families and had studied abroad.
The FBI earlier extended support in testing the DNA samples of some militant attacks including the murder of US-based Bangladeshi secularist blogger Avijit Roy in February last year, claimed by another outlawed group Ansarullah Bangla Team.
The Foreign Ministry official said that the government believed that these local militants may have slight communication with foreign terrorist organisations through e-mail or other medium.
“But so far we have not come across anything that indicates that these militants receive direct orders from the foreigners.”
Despite their differences, Bangladesh and the West are cooperating with each other on militant issues.
During John Kerry’s recent Dhaka visit late last month, security was one of the key issues discussed. The matter is likely to be discussed further in the impending Bangladesh-US security talks.
Kerry on August 29 said that the US believed that elements of Islamic State were “connected” to operatives in Bangladesh, promising help with intelligence and law enforcement after a wave of militant attacks.
He said that the IS had wide contacts around the world, including in South Asia, adding: “They are connected to some degree with some of the operatives here, and we made that very clear in our conversations [with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other officials].”
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, however, directly contradicted him. “I told him that there is no such terrorist or militants from outside or who are connected with the [Islamic State], but there are militants inside our country and they are homegrown,” Kamal said.
Another Foreign Ministry official said that Dhaka was considering some of the proposals for cooperation by Washington but it was not too keen about several others.
“As part of the anti-terrorism cooperation, Bangladesh is interested in taking assistance from the US in the fields of exchange of information and training or increasing efficiency. But beyond that, the US has now shown interest in getting involved with anti-militancy investigations,” the official added.