US special forces are present in five South Asian countries, including Bangladesh, as part of capacity building in counter-terrorism efforts, a top Pentagon commander has said.
"We have currently special forces assist teams -- Pacific assist teams is the term -- laid down in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, as well as India," US Pacific Commander Admiral Robert Willard told a Congressional hearing, reports BBC online.
Asked, Additional Secretary (Political) of Home Ministry Kamal Uddin Ahmed in Dhaka said the troops were not stationed in the country as media reports had suggested.
But a US Security team is scheduled to be in the capital on a three-day tour from March 11 to take part in a workshop, he told The Daily Star without going into details.
Lt Col Ziaul Ahsan, intelligence chief of Rapid Action Battalion, said “All year round personnel from different US agencies, including the FBI and the US Security, come to Bangladesh and provide training to the army, navy and others.”
They training programmes cover different issues including counterterrorism, he added.
"We are working very closely with India with regard to their counter-terrorism capabilities and in particular on the maritime domain but also government to government, not necessarily department of defence but other agencies assisting them in terms of their internal counter-terror and counterinsurgency challenges."
Adm Willard said Lashkar-e-Taiba was a "very dangerous organisation... so it is a very important threat, and we're working very closely with the nations in the region to help contain it".
He said the group was "responsible for many attacks in India, including the horrific attacks into Mumbai, Lashkar-e-Taiba is headquartered in Pakistan, affiliated with al-Qaeda... and contributes to terrorist operations in Afghanistan and aspires to operate against Asia, Europe and North America."
Bangladesh, he said, has emerged as a particularly effective partner in the fight against terror, cooperating with India as well as the US to counter VEO activity by actors such as LeT, The Times of India reports.
Further, Bangladesh's military is advancing its capabilities and contributes broadly to UN peacekeeping operations, he added.