Bangladesh forms special counter-terror unit

A 600-men police unit specialising in technology has been formed under the Dhaka Metropolitan Police to enhance police capability in combating militancy and terrorism.

The "Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime" unit has been formed at a time when the country has witnessed a sharp rise in deadly attacks on bloggers, publishers, different Muslim sects, foreigners, and people of other religion, police sources said.

With militant groups recruiting tech-savvy operatives, the police had been pressing for a special unit.

A police proposal for forming "Police Bureau of Counter-Terrorism" had been put on hold for years.

The proposal for the bureau, which was sent to the home ministry in August 2011 from the police headquarters, remained shelved at the public administration ministry after the home ministry sent it there in September, 2013, officials at the police headquarters said.

The government is reluctant to approve the bureau, which was supposed to look into militancy-related crimes across the country, due to objections from some other agencies working on militancy, police sources said.

The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit is expected to start work next month, as the government has already completed all formalities regarding its formation.

Police officials working on militancy and counter terrorism in the DMP and the Detective Branch (DB) of police in particular would be incorporated into the unit.

"The unit will work to combat cyber crimes, terror financing and mobile banking related crimes," Monirul Islam, joint commissioner of DB, told The Daily Star yesterday.

Members from Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT), bomb disposal unit, and the dog squad would also be included in the unit to be led by a police official with the rank of a deputy inspector general (DIG).

The unit would also have an additional DIG, four deputy commissioners, 10 additional deputy commissioners, and 20 assistant commissioners.

The rest would be inspectors, sub-inspectors, assistant sub-inspectors and constables.

Atiqur Rahman, DIG at the police headquarters, said they had gotten 7,000 newly recruited policemen for the DMP and the unit would be manned by some of the new policemen.

The unit would collect information and data on militants and transnational criminals at home and abroad, monitor their activities, and arrest them, police sources said.

They said officials with specialties and foreign training on counter-terrorism would be posted in the unit.

"We'll ask the authorities not to transfer officials with specialties in counter-terrorism elsewhere, and that they be allowed to work in the unit at least for three to five years," Monirul said.