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Bangladesh probes Zawahiri's call for 'jihad'

Sunday, 16 February 2014 - 6:47pm IST | Agency: PTI

Bangladesh today launched a probe into a purported audio message from Al Qaeda chief Ayman al- Zawahiri asking the country's Muslims to launch a "jihad" against the West but said it was capable of tackling such threats. "The issues related to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is in our knowledge," state minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam said. He assured the world community that Bangladesh has the capability to deal with threats posed by such terror groups."(But) the government will not be worried by such threats or calls and we will resist it."

A day after the 29-minute message was posted on a jihadi website, Alam told a news briefing, "We must think about the issues of Bangladesh's geographic location and its role in the international arena as the message called on Bangladeshi Muslims to launch 'jihad' against western nations and claimed the country was a victim of plots hatched by Indian agents and Pakistani military."

State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Kamal Khan, meanwhile, told a separate news briefing that the government did not see the message as a "threat". He said the government's position was largely based on the nature of Bangladeshi people, who "will not allow terror to take root" in the country. "The countries with such issues (Al Qaeda activity) usually have locals who support their cause...Al Qaeda is provoked into action from the locality of wherever they attack but our people are with us, they do not want this kind of militancy," he said.

Khan added: "Our people don't want insurgency, terrorism and Al-Qaeda in their country."

He said the government had ordered a probe into the origin of the message and Bangladesh's law-enforcement agencies were coordinating with international organisations to prevent terrorism. "We have expertise in countering terrorism...We can combat all forms of threats," he said.

Asked what action the government would take if any political party was found to be linked to the message, Alam said, "The high-ups of the government will decide on it." He said Zawahiri's message could be the part of a "conspiracy" but ruled out the possibility that it was part of any "international pressure". "It will take a few more days to comment if any opposition party has link to the threat," Alam said.

Zawahiri became the head of Al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed in a unilateral US military raid on the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad in May 2011.

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