The U.S. intelligence chief said Tuesday efforts by Bangladesh’s prime minister to undermine the political opposition will probably provide openings for transnational terrorist groups to expand their presence in the South Asian country.
Director Of National Intelligence James Clapper questioned Bangladesh’s public insistence that the killings of foreigners were the work of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and are intended to discredit the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
In written testimony to a Senate hearing on worldwide threats, Clapper noted the claims of responsibility from the Islamic State group for 11 high profile attacks on foreigners and religious minorities, and claims from the Ansarullah Bangla Team and al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent for killing at least 11 progressive writers and bloggers in Bangladesh since 2013.
Bangladesh is a Muslim country with traditions of secularism and tolerance but it has become increasingly troubled by extremist violence. Hasina’s government has denied that the Islamic State group has a presence in the country, and has accused domestic Islamist groups and political opponents for the violence.
Bangladesh has been in political ferment since the run-up to January 2014 elections that were boycotted by opposition parties, and over war crimes prosecutions brought against Jamaat-e-Islami leaders over alleged involvement in atrocities during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence.