There have been numerous reports in the media about Bangladeshi expatriate workers in Singapore getting involved in militancy and terror activities.
Singapore police have so far deported more than 50 Bangladeshis while a number of workers are being held in the country’s prisons.
There is no doubt that Bangladeshi workers are being lured into the seedy world of terrorism. But the question is, why and how are they getting involved?
Law enforcement officials, who have insight into the matter, believe that the issue could have a negative impact on Bangladesh's manpower export sector.
Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC) Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Abdul Mannan said: “The local law enforcement agencies are very vigilant in Singapore. Expatriate workers are being deported if even a little evidence of involvement in militancy is found against them.
“We are trying to figure out why Bangladeshi workers in Singapore are joining terror groups.”
Meanwhile, several law enforcement official said many of the expatriate workers deported for suspected militant links have little to no education.
The workers, many of them devoutly religious, were influenced by notorious terror groups such as Ansar Al-Islam and Neo-JMB, they said.
A CTTC official, revealing information gleaned from initial interrogation, said: “The recruiter of a terror group first invites workers for religious activities. Most people accept this invitation. The recruiter then gives them audio lectures of Jasimuddin Rahmani, a notorious terrorist leader.
“The local terrorist cell then holds regular meetings in local mosques, and invites small groups of workers that have been influenced and groomed by the recruiters. They also start a fund by collecting donations from members and benefactors.”
So far, CTTC has arrested 27 workers, who were deported from Singapore, in five separate cases filed under the anti-terrorism act.
A CTTC official has confirmed that a three-member team, is planning to visit Singapore to conduct a thorough investigation on the recent spike in terror activities among Bangladeshi workers there.
CTTC sources said the rise of militant activities among Bangladeshi expatriate workers in Singapore began in 2015. The country’s police deported 26 workers last year over suspected militant connections. The CTTC filed cases under Anti-Terrorism Act against 14 of them.
Singapore police deported another 15 Bangladeshi workers during the first months current year, they said.
A CTTC official also confirmed that Bangladesh was holding talks with an international organisation for raising awareness among expatriate workers against the militant threat.
Two Bangladeshi workers, identified as Daulat and Sohel, were recently deported from Singapore on September 26. Law enforcers arrested them from Dhaka's Sabujbag on October 15 on charges of involvement in militancy.
Upon initial investigation, both suspects claimed they were recruited by a Bangladeshi man named Mizanur Rahman, who has been reportedly staying in Singapore for a long time. However, the suspects could not provide any further details.
Meanwhile, Rapid Action Battalion 3 (RAB) Commanding Officer Lt Col Emranul Hasan said: “A certain terror group is influencing Bangladeshi workers in Singapore, and the man named Mizanur Rahman is currently in prison there.”
Hasan said RAB had sent a request to the Home Ministry seeking permission to investigate the anti-terrorism case filed against recently deported workers Daulat and Sohel.
The article was first published on Bangla Tribune