Vol. 5 Num 437 Thu. August 18, 2005  
Front Page

Series of blasts poses lasting security threat
Say analysts, blame govt inaction in punishing previous attackers

Simultaneous bomb blasts across the country yesterday pose a long-term threat to the country's security system, said security analysts, adding that the incidents once again proved the incompetence of intelligence agencies to detect any threat to security.

The attack that rocked the entire country was launched four days into the home ministry's directives to build a foolproof security measure across the country ahead of the Saarc summit slated for November 12-13. The summit was earlier scheduled for last February, but postponed following Indian Prime Minister's refusal to join on security grounds.

Security analysts observed that criminal activities are not beingstopped as the mastermind of the well-orchestrated attacks are yet to be brought to book. They also pin-pointed the absence of rule of law, the lack of the government's political will and the lack of commitment of the law enforcement agencies to curb such crimes as reasons for the recurrence of such attacks.

Terming yesterday's incident as a long-term threat to the country's security system, they stressed the need for strenghtheing intelligence agencies with adequate logistic support and training and ensuring punishment to those in all previous attacks.

At least 300 bombs were exploded for over half-an-hour in different secured areas across the country where members of the intelligence agencies always remain on duty. But the agencies failed to detect any clues and could not even arrest any one with bombs before the attack.

Referring to over four hundred bombs and grenade explosions since 1999, former advisor to the caretaker government Major General (Rtd) Mainul Hossain Chowdhury said, "These are happening mainly due to lack of proper intelligence, weak investigation and the absence of subsequent proper prosecution."

"We've not yet been able to hold the culprits who masterminded attacks on political meetings, cinemas, fairs and shrines," Main told The Daily Star last evening.

Main, also a former security and risk advisor of the UNDP, said the latest attack is carried out to terrorise people of Bangladesh and disrupt normal life.

He observed that these sorts of anti-state activities should be dealt with properly and promptly as dealt with by Western countries. Otherwise such incidents will continue to take place frequently.

"Political will, professionalism and total devotion of the policymakers and the law enforcement agencies are prerequisite to stop terrorist activities in the country," he said.

Referring to the law enforcers' action after any incident takes place, Main said, "Our law enforcers have reactive approach, rather than proactive in enforcing law and order."

"Taking opportunities of absence of rule of law and weakness of authorities of laws, criminals are carrying out such terrorist activities frequently since 1999," Main said

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, well-known security analyst Major General (Rtd) Syed Mohammad Ibrahim said, "It's a long term security threat because nothing exposes silently, things take shape over a period of time. So the incidents of August 17 are not out of the blue because of the lack of the security system,"

"The incidents are possibly designed to convey a message, more importantly of their presence and organisational ability then of ideology itself," he observed.

The state minister for home, however, yesterday claimed they had information of an attack in between August 14 and 16, which raised questions about the ability of the government to foil the plan.

"We did not have any information of such attacks on August 17," State Minister for Home Lutfuzzaman Babar said. "We had intelligence reports of some attacks in between August 14 to 16."

The state minister feared more attacks, terming the yesterday's attack organised. The state minister at a meeting on August 13 directed the law enforcement agencies to ensure foolproof security in Dhaka.

The attacks jolted the government high ups and chief of different intelligence agencies, as they were absolutely clueless about the attacks, sources said.

Just after the incidents, all the intelligence agencies started unearthing clues while the law enforcers' launched a crackdown to nab criminals.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, former army chief Mahbubur Rahman said the intelligence agencies should have been more alert to detect such subversive activities.

"The parliamentary standing committee on defence ministry on several occasions discussed the weakness of the intelligence agencies for their continual failure to detect threats to the country's security system," Mahbub, also chairman of the committee, said.

The parliamentary body has also asked the government to strengthen intelligence agencies. "We are informed that measures were taken to strengthen the intelligence agencies," he added.

"The attack reminded us of the necessity to reinforce intelligence agencies in terms of manpower, training and equipment," Mohammad Ibrahim said.

Referring to the Saarc summit, Mohammad Ibrahim said the incident would send very unfriendly signals abroad, particularly on the eve of the summit. "The government alone possibly can not tackle it. So all the political parties and civil society personalities with the people should be united to face it."