The government has instructed Bangladesh missions abroad not to issue any travel pass (TP) to Bangladeshi citizens who have no travel and other documents, without taking permission of the home affairs ministry. This is being done to prevent the entry of militants into the country. The Security Service Division of the home ministry issued an order recently and it was sent to the foreign affairs ministry, asking it to inform Bangladesh missions abroad to take steps in this regard.
The letter, issued by Manira Haque of the Security Service Division, says the security threat is being seen in the light of increased militant activities around the world.
The security of Bangladesh may be threatened if missions abroad issue travel passes to people without verifying their nationality andidentity, it adds.
In the letter, the home ministry expressed fear that militants could try and enter the country after taking part in a war in countries like Syria and Iraq. There could also be people trying to hide their identity.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said they have asked the Bangladesh missions abroad not to issue travel passes without prior permission of his ministry. The objective is to prevent entry of people, especially foreign citizens of Bangladesh origin trying to return after fighting a war in Syria and Iraq.
The minister, however, said Bangladeshis who have no travel documents must be issued travel passes to enter the country after their nationalities are verified.
“We have also alerted immigration points of different airports and land ports on this,” he added.
Sources in the foreign ministry said a number of people are coming to different missions abroad, especially Bangladesh missions in Middle East countries, seeking travel passes to return home.
“After receiving their applications, these are sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs for verification of their nationality and identity. After confirming their identity as Bangladeshis, the authorities issue travel pass to enter country,” a source said.
According to sources in law enforcement and intelligence agencies, there is no list of people who have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight. But as per the list of the foreign terrorist fighters (FTF), the intelligence agencies guess
that at least 50 Bangladeshis and foreign citizens of Bangladesh origin went to Syria and Iraq in 2014-15 to fight.
According to sources in the foreign ministry, a Bangladeshi citizen, Md Anwar, informed the Bangladesh mission in New Delhi through email that a Bangladeshi, Kulsuma Akter (passport No. BM 0421832), is involved with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and she is trying to enter a European country. “After receiving the email, the authorities informed the Ministry of Home Affairs, which has asked the Special Branch (SB) of the police and the National Security of Intelligence (NSI) to inquire and inform the ministry as soon as possible,” a source said.
One Bangladeshi citizen, Sujit Debnath, went to Japan for studying. He later converted to Islam and took the name Saifullah Ozaki and joined ISIS.
On November 15, 2015, the police arrested a garment factory owner, Kazi Saifuddin Yahya, on charge of being involved in militancy.
On February 21, the foreign affairs ministry, in a press release, said radicalised IS teenager and Bangladesh origin British citizen, Shamima Begum, is not a Bangladeshi citizen and there is no question of her being allowed to enter Bangladesh.
Shamima Begum, who joined the Islamic State group in Syria at the age of 15, is to lose her UK citizenship, according to a BBC report.
Shamima, who left east London in 2015, had said she wanted to return home. She was found in a Syrian refugee camp last week after reportedly leaving Baghuz— the IS’s last stronghold—and gave birth to a son at the weekend.