The government of bangladesh (GoB) will hold a meeting tomorrow at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to finalise its strategy to form a Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism (JWGCT) with the British government.
Bangladesh is eagerly looking forward to set up joint working groups (JWG) with a number of countries including the UK and US for tackling terrorism, money laundering, and human trafficking through sharing of information and counter-terrorism training.
Currently, Britain provides counter-terror training, and finances and organises counter-terror research by local think tanks. The proposal for setting up a JWG came from the UK side during the immediate past caretaker government’s regime.
Home ministry officials said they will also hold a meeting on April 27 to finalise a strategy for a JWG with the US. Sources in an intelligence agency told The Daily Star that the US is going to arrange a seminar on counter-terrorism within a very short time in India, which will be attended by a Bangladeshi high official.
Gradually the government will soon form JWGs with Australia and Russia too. "We will sit on April 12 to finalise the strategy for a joint working group with the UK. We will gradually set up joint working groups with Australia and Russia too," Home secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder told The Daily Star last night.
He said counter-terrorism, border security, money laundering, funding of militant organisations, human and drug trafficking, political asylum, and consular access facilities, among others will come in discussion at tomorrow’s meeting.
"At the meeting we will decide how may we approach combating terrorism, and after finalising our strategy we will inform the British government," he said adding that the meetings of the JWG will be held first in Dhaka and then in London gradually.
Senior officials of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), Coastguards, National Security Intelligence (NSI), and the police department will attend the meeting.
The home secretary said the home ministers of the two countries will be leading the JWG.
Asked how the committee will function, Home Minister Sahara Khatun told The Daily Star that they had not decided about how the JWG will work. "We will finalise the strategy for the joint working group first at the meeting, and then decide about its functioning," she said.
The main objectives of the JWGs will be sharing assessment of the international terrorism situation, to discuss ways to further advancing bilateral cooperation, and strengthening multilateral efforts in combating terrorism including through expanding and upgrading anti-terrorism training and capacity building in a number of areas, home ministry sources said.
There will be also strengthening of intelligence sharing, coordinated actions and deepening of investigative cooperation, promotion of cooperation in counter-terrorism related technology and equipment, and working together for the full and effective implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which provides a comprehensive and mandatory framework for sustained global action against terrorism.
"The main goal of the joint working group is to enhance cooperation on counter-terrorism between the UK and Bangladesh," British High Commission Spokesperson Jon Ryan, who works on counter-terrorism, told The Daily Star yesterday.
The joint working groups will comprise inter-ministerial team of officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, home, and law enforcement and security agencies of respective countries.
Last year British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith pressed Bangladesh about the importance of a JWG for intensifying cooperation between the two countries in combating international terrorism. She also said back then that the group will meet in June this year to thrash out details of practical programmes on counter-terrorism as she believes there are links between Bangladesh and British terror networks.
Earlier, at the first summit of Bimstec (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation) held in Bangkok in July 2004, a JWG was set up to coordinate efforts in areas such as intelligence sharing and capacity building to combat terrorism and transnational crimes.