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Militants get foreign funds

Financial regulation very weak: Experts

By Special Correspondent
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 Local militant groups are successfully raising funds from local and foreign sources, but no effective step has yet been taken to block the funding sources.Even, they are enjoying 'covert' funding support from donations, non-profitable oraganisations and businesses, evading the government scrutiny, sources said.The issue of militant financing came to the fore after the sophisticated militant attack on a café in Dhaka that left 28 people dead, including 18 foreigners.Gunmen entered the Café with sophisticated arms and ammunition to carry out the massacre, renewing the question of funding sources of local militant groups."Homegrown militant organisations, including Jama'atul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkat-ul Jihad al Islami (HuJI) acquire funds from various sources. Major funding for these organisations comes from the illegal cross border trade like small arms, narcotics and fake and foreign currencies," an official of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) Unit of Police told The New Nation on Sunday, asking not to be named.He said some Gulf nations, neighbouring countries and a section of expatriate Bangladeshis are also contributing to the militant funds.  JMB has around 5000 active sympathisers across the globe who regularly donate part of their earnings to the militant campaign here"Now these groups are getting 'overt and covert' financial support from a religious-based political party, enriching the financial base of the extremist groups," the CTTC official said.The official further said militant groups have been receiving foreign and local funds for years to make new recruits, operate hidden training camps, acquire arms and ammunition, and learning how to use weapons, assemble bombs and stage attacks.When asked, the police official said they have information that spiritual leaders of homegrown militants have travelled to Afghanistan and Syria to gain support from international jihadist groups, including the IS."We are keeping a close coordination with international communities and building up intelligence capability on stemming the tide of illegal financial flow into the country as well as terrorism," he said."Local militant groups are receiving the funds from local and overseas sources," Dr Khondoker Ibrahim Khaled, a former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank (BB) told The New Nation on Saturday.   Of the funding sources, he said, foreign funds are mostly donations and it is coming though illicit channels. Besides, domestic financing is mobilized from businesses, charitable and non-profitable organisations."Individuals at home and abroad are providing their 'ill gotten' money to the local militant outfits," he said, adding, "They are sending it to alternative systems to evade the government scrutiny".When asked, Ibrahim Khaled said, the issue of obstructing terror and militant financing could not be ignored considering the ongoing wave of the militant attacks in the country."We must stop the source of terrorist funds to root out militancy and terrorism from the country," he said.The former BB deputy governor observed that the country' is yet to make any headway in preventing money laundering and terror financing  due to weak financial regulation and oversights by the concerned agencies."The recent trend of militant attacks suggests that local extremist groups are successfully raising funds from various sources to carry out the attack. They are managing the funds secretly, but regulators are yet to trace the sources of funds and their financiers," Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, former BB governor told The New Nation yesterday.When asked, he said, "We have to reexamine our regulatory policies and practices in regard to stop the sources of militant funds from outside the country."Combating militancy and terrorism is our topmost priority. So, we are sincerely working on the issue," Home Minister M Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told The New Nation on Saturday."We are not only looking for militant dens but also looking for terrorist funds emanating in the country," he added. The Minister said a number of business firms and non-profit organisations belonging to members of a particular political party have come under the government scrutiny for their alleged link to terror and militant financing."We are keen to annihilate the financial network of extremist groups for firm handling militant political parties and their leaders to root out terrorism militancy from the country," he added. 

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