THE UNITED States has demanded extradition of Bangladesh-born militants who were recruited and trained by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina raised the issue Wednesday with the ruling Awami League’s central working committee. She also hinted at external pressure to hand over the suspects.
Hasina assured U.S. officials that her government would take necessary steps to nab the suspects, who are still at large.
The suspected jihadists, according to intelligence sources, returned to Bangladesh through clandestine routes soon after the U.S. and British-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Hundreds of Bangladeshi recruits have joined the jihad in Afghanistan that overthrew the pro-West Mujahideen government.
Senior Pentagon officials, through diplomatic channels, have submitted a list of Bangladeshi militants and demanded the extradition of those suspected militants now living in Bangladesh.
Since the government led by the pro-secular prime minister swept to power more than two years ago in Bangladesh, scores of self-proclaimed Jihadists who boasted to have fought with the Taliban have been arrested.
Earlier, Bangladesh pledged to the United States and Britain to support the “war on terror” and have received high profile counter-terrorism training.
Afghanistan-trained militants are a security threat to Bangladesh's tolerant and secular Muslim majority, according to political scientist Professor Imtiaz Ahmed of state-owned Dhaka University.
Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at email@example.com