The militant attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in the capital’s posh Gulshan area on July 1 in 2016, which left 29 people – mostly foreigners – dead, dealt a big blow to the image of Bangladesh.
Many international agencies decided to shut their offices in Bangladesh and a large number of foreigners left the country following the attack, posing a great challenge to the government in maintaining foreign relations and keeping the pace of development activities.
The government, however, handled the issue so effectively that Bangladesh has become a role model for different countries in combating terrorism and militancy.
As different steps helped Bangladesh to regain the confidence of the world community in the government, the international agencies revised their decision of shutting office in Dhaka while the foreigners who had left Dhaka came back.
At present, a large number of foreigners are working in the country and are travelling to different parts of the country with great confidence.
Bangladesh law enforcement agencies are now sharing the experiences and tactics of combating terrorism and militancy with various countries.
A good number of countries have sent their anti-militant officers to gain practical knowledge and training that Bangladesh law enforcers displayed during their various anti-militant operations across the country.
Bangladeshi law enforcing agencies are also taking help, especially technological and intelligence cooperation, from some countries of the world, to enhance their capabilities.
The government formed the Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU), as a specialised unit only to combat militancy and terrorism. Earlier, Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC) was formed as a specialised unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), especially to fight militants.
In addition, the Police Headquarters have also another wing to supervise anti-militant activities of all its operational units.
Md Moniruzzaman, Additional Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of the unit, said that even in the present pandemic situation, they have not stopped anti-militant drives for a single day.
Combating militancy is a continuous process, he opined.
Kamrul Ahsan, Additional Inspector General of Police, who is the head of the ATU, said, “We are working against terrorism and militancy to wipe it out from the grass-roots.”
Government has taken all necessary steps to prevent the rise of terrorism and militancy in the country again.
“We are continuously conducting our activities,” he said.
Leading counter-terrorism officer of the country, Monirul Islam, also an additional commissioner of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit of the DMP said, “We want to eradicate the root causes of militancy and terrorism from Bangladesh.”
“We are working to achieve the goal. As soon as the present virus situation ends and normalcy returns, we will launch our tactical operations against the militants again,” he vowed.
Responding to a question, the globally renowned anti-terrorist expert said, the strict surveillance still continues on those who have been released on bail, and those in jail.
Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun, Director General (DG) of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said, “Militancy is now under control.”
He also said Bangladesh has significantly controlled the militant outfits.
The RAB chief further said “We have successfully completed all anti-militant drives under the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.”
According to him, RAB, since the Holey Artisan attack, has been conducting various anti-militant drives throughout the country and held over a thousand militant operatives.
DMP Commissioner Shafiqul Islam said militants have no capability to carry out big attack as the law enforcement agencies have destroyed them.
He said law enforcement agencies have destroyed militant dens one after another after the Gulshan cafe attack.
He said that for this reason, the capability of militants had come down to a minimum level.
According to the DMP chief, many of the militants are now in jails, and several top militants were killed in various anti-militant operations. So they have no capability to carry out any large scale terrorist attacks in the country.
All the militants who were directly involved in the Holey Artisan cafe attack, were killed in commando operation led by Bangladesh Army. Some other cafe attackers were convicted by a Dhaka court.
Thus the whole network of the militants has been successfully destroyed within a very short time.