Detectives have started vetting private security guards to prevent militants masquerading as security staff from plotting acts of sabotage against important buildings.
Sources from the Special Branch (SB) of police said they began scanning security guards on intelligence that militants are taking up jobs at security service companies following the recent busting of several militant dens across the country.
“Though the scanning of security guards is a regular job of Special Branch, the task has been intensified with the recent influx of Rohingyas from Myanmar and also for maintaining law and order in the country,” Shahely Ferdous, assistant inspector general (media and public relations) at the Police Headquarters, said on Tuesday.
As the security guards have access to important establishments, militants may take advantage of getting appointed to such a position to easily execute their plans, SB officials told the Dhaka Tribune on condition of anonymity.
Intelligence agencies had already been alerted that members of militant outfits - especially the new faction of Jama’at ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (known as New JMB) and Ansar al-Islam - were disguising themselves as RMG workers, chauffeurs, hawkers and street vendors.
But their camouflaging as security guards seems like a new dimension to their tactics and strategies, they added.
The SB, in the meantime, has made a list of security service companies and asked them to submit details of their employees working as guards for other organisations, the officials also said.
A total of 700 private security service agencies are operating in the country, according to Mohammad Shah Alam Sarker, the secretary general of the Bangladesh Security Services Companies Owners Association. He said 450 of them are members of his association.
“To check the possible inclusion of militants, we are working on integrating all the agencies into a single association like Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association or Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, so that none can conduct unlawful activities masquerading as an employee of a security service provider.”
Sheikh Farid Ahmed, director of the ‘Elite Force’ security agency, said they had already provided information about their employees to Special Branch.
“Some 18,000 guards of the agency are employed in 600 establishments across the country, including important offices, spots, shopping malls, banks, residential areas and apartment buildings,” he said. “We also have about 500 armed guards employed at different places.”
Md Joynal Abedin Khan, managing director of Country Security Services Ltd, said he provided information about all the guards of his agency to the SB right after receiving a similar message from the detective branch.
“Currently, around 5,000 people are employed by the agency, and their number frequently fluctuates as many give up the job after a certain period,” he said.
An official at G4S said the British multinational security service company employed around 13,000 guards in Bangladesh. “We strictly monitor our guards and staff on a regular basis so people with criminal records or a criminal mentality cannot join our company,” he said.
Law enforcement agencies launched a crackdown on militants in the aftermath of the Gulshan terror attack that left 20 people dead on July 1 last year. Since then, several hundred militants have been detained and over 80 suspects killed during anti-militancy drives by law enforcers.