Vol. 5 Num 632 Thu. March 09, 2006  
Front Page

Australia offers tech help to track down militants

Australia yesterday offered training and technological assistance, including highly developed software, to enhance the intelligence skills in Bangladesh in tracking down the funding of terrorists.

Australian Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Amanda Vanstone made the offer during a meeting with State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar at his ministry.

"It is important that there are whole range of ways to fight against terrorism and one important way is to track the money of the terrorists," Vanstone told reporters after a meeting with Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan at his office.

Replying to a question, she said: "One way we can attack the enemy is to attack their financial sources."

Referring to her meeting with Babar, she said: "We told the home minister that we're working with the officials in Bangladesh to see what assistance we can provide in terms of developing intelligence skills in Bangladesh for tracking money of the terrorists."

Asked about the software to track down the terrorist financing, the Australian minister said she informed the home minister that the software the intelligence agencies use in Australia is very well developed and working good.

"But the first task, of course, is developing intelligence skills to track financial movement... this is right in the context of war against terrorism," she said. "War on terrorism is a war against all of us... enemies are indiscriminate in their targets, they will attack civilians, women and children and none of us want to see them."

Asked about the training of Bangladesh immigration officials, the Australian minister said: "We do have some cooperative arrangements and we are happy with that. We look forward to continue with them."

About the possibility of easing visa regime for Bangladesh citizens, she said it is not needed since a lot of skilled migrants are going to Australia and the number has increased five-folds in last 2-3 years. "That's a big increase... we want to see the scheme must be working reasonably well."

Foreign Minister Morshed Khan said Bangladesh and Australia have several protocols and MoUs, including one to fight against terrorism through capacity building and facilitation.

On terrorist financing, he said Bangladesh has already enacted the Money Laundering Act and signed as many as 12 UN conventions, including one relating to tracking down the funding of any kind of terrorism.

"We've choked the funding of terrorists under these laws and conventions and through our vigilance," Morshed told reporters.

About sending of Bangladeshi manpower to Australia, he said Australia is willing to take more skilled Bangladeshis subject to scrutiny, as they are concerned about their aging population.

About the MoU signed with Australia yesterday, the foreign minister said it will create a new destination for Bangladeshi students.

Morshed also told the Australian Minister to relax the rules of origin to increase Bangladeshi export as Australia has already granted duty-free access to Bangladeshi products.