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Transnational Security : Threats facing Bangladesh Major General ANM Muniruzzaman, ndc, psc (Retd) President Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) Outline- What is transnational security threats?

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transnational security threats facing bangladesh

Transnational Security :Threats facing Bangladesh

Major General ANM Muniruzzaman, ndc, psc (Retd)


Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS)


What is transnational security threats?

Why do transnational threats have become the focal point of the security discourse?

Major transnational threats facing Bangladesh

Response mechanisms

what is transnational security threats
What is transnational security threats?

Transnational security issues are the “nonmilitary threats that cross borders and either threaten the political and social integrity of a nation or the health of that nation's inhabitants”.(Paul J. Smith, 2000)

Transnational threats are characterised by their global nature i.e. these threats straddle both the domestic and foreign spheres.(Carolyn W. Pumphrey, 2008)

The transnational challenges are mainly driven by non-state actors.

Unlike traditional security threats transnational security threats do not have a crisis "focal point".

transnational threats new facet of security challenges
Transnational threats: New facet of security challenges

Transnational threats are the new facet of security challenges in the 21st century .

They are nonmilitary threats that cross borders and destabilise the region as a whole.

It causes serious damage to the economic, social and political development at the systemic level.

Limitations of national-level legislation and an absence of adequate transnational collaborative mechanisms have made it difficult to deal with such threats.


Major Transnational threats facing Bangladesh

  • Terrorism and religious militancy.
  • Small arms trafficking.
  • Human Trafficking.
  • Narcotics and drug trafficking.
  • Climate Change induced Security Threats.
  • Money laundering/ financial crimes.
  • Infectious disease.
  • Transnational Organized Crime.
  • Water Security.
terrorism and religious militancy
Terrorism and Religious Militancy

Terrorism and religious militancy have become a major concern for Bangladesh.

It has caused severe damage to the moderate image of the nation.

It has threatened people’s lives, the country’s economy, and Bangladesh’s political establishment and religious pluralism.

It has also generated insecurity and instability within the state and society.


Major terrorist groups operating in Bangladesh

  • 33 active militant outfits in Bangladesh.
  • Major groups are-
    • Harkat-ul-Jehadi-e-Islami, Bangladesh (HUJI-BD).
    • Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
    • Hizb-ut Towhid
    • Allahr Dal
    • Islami Samaj

Source: The Daily Star

fatalities caused by islamist terrorism 2005 2010
Fatalities caused by Islamist Terrorism (2005-2010)

Source: South Asian Terrorism Portal, February 2010

transnational linkages
Transnational Linkages

Militant groups active in Bangladesh are supposed to have links with international and regional terror groups.

HuJI-B was formed drawing inspiration from Al Qaeda and the group continues to maintain active links with the Al Qaeda network.

Reportedly, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives of Indian and Pakistani nationalities are active in Bangladesh, and are working to build a strong militant network here.

It is alleged by Indian security analysts that ULFA, an ethnic insurgent group from North East India, maintains linkages with terrorist groups operating in Bangladesh and have established camps within its territory.

The Growing International Linkages


response by bangladesh government
Response by Bangladesh Government
  • Formation of RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) In 2004
  • Enactment of special laws and ordinances such as Anti-terrorism Ordinance (2008) . The key features of this Ordinance are-
  • penalty for offences like creating panic and endanger the country’s sovereignty, committing murders , financing terror attacks and arms running. Maximum punishment under is death sentence
  • Maximum punishment is death sentence.
  • Punishment for being associated with proscribed organizations.
  • Financing of terrorism has become a subject of punishment.
  • Creation of special tribunal to put the terrorists under trial.
  • Bangladesh Bank has been delegated with the responsibilities of monitoring and countering the financing of terrorism.
arms trafficking
Arms trafficking

Bangladesh is increasingly being used as a transit route by militant and insurgent outfits for smuggling weapons

The geographical location, porous border and poor border management have made the country vulnerable to arms trafficking

arms trafficking contd
Arms Trafficking (contd.)

Arms smuggling hotspots in Bangladesh:

1. country's south and south-east regions.

2. Chittagong.

3. Khagrachhari.

4. Bandarban.

5. Sandwip.

6. Haluaghat

Source: International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) report.

small arms seizure by rab jun sep 2009
Small arms seizure (by RAB), Jun-Sep, 2009

* Till 20 Sep, 2009

Source: Rapid Action Battalion, BD

arms trafficking in bangladesh fact sheet
Arms Trafficking in Bangladesh: Fact Sheet

► Estimated total number of illegal arms in the hands of local gangsters is 400,000.

► More than 600,000 operatives use the arms.

► 40% of these gangsters are under 18 years.

► 128 syndicates are active in arms trafficking.

► Militants and insurgent outfits of neighbouring countries use Bangladesh as a transit route of illegal arms.

Source: International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) report.


Transnational connections (contd.)

  • 600-700 weapons enter Bangladesh from India and Myanmar each month.
  • Out of some 75 million firearms in South Asia, only 12 million are legal
  • Weapons from islands of Thailand are smuggled into the north-east of India that travels through Cox's Bazaar and the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Source: International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) report.

human trafficking
Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a crime against humanity

It denotes a wide variety of crimes and human rights abuses associated with the recruitment, movement and sale of people into a range of exploitative or slave-like circumstances

This is a global problem and Bangladesh is one of the worst victims of human trafficking

Bangladesh is a source as well as transit for men, women and children trafficked for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation

According to a UNICEF report, approximately 400 women and children in Bangladesh are victims of trafficking each month


Types of Human Trafficking in Bangladesh

  • Trafficking for sexual exploitation
  • Forced prostitution
  • Domestic servitude
  • Forced labour.
  • Children as Camel Jockey.
human trafficking in bangladesh facts and figures
Human Trafficking in Bangladesh: Facts and figures
  • Tens of thousands of women and children are trafficked from Bangladesh each year.
  • They are sent to India, Pakistan and countries in the Middle East.
  • Every month an estimated 200 to 400 Bangladeshi women and children are trafficked to Pakistan
  • 10-15,000 are trafficked to India annually
  • Reportedly, over a million women and children have been trafficked out of the country in the last 30 years.


facts and figures contd
Facts and figures (Contd.)
  • About 300,000 Bangladeshi women have been trafficked to brothels in India over a period of time.
  • Over the last five years at least 13,220 children are reported as being trafficked out of the country.
  • It was possible to rescue only 4,700 of them.
  • About one million reported ‘undocumented’ Bangladesh women in Pakistan.
  • Single, unwed, divorced women and girls, and those sexually abused are the main target.


drug trafficking26
Drug Trafficking

Bangladesh has become an attractive transit point for narcotics destined for international markets

It presents a real challenge to the health and stability of the nation

The long and porous borders have made the country vulnerable to trans-border smuggling.

Bangladesh is situated between the Golden Crescent to the west and the Golden Triangle to the east, placing the country at continued risk for transit crimes.

narcotics and drug trafficking fact sheet
Narcotics and Drug Trafficking: Fact Sheet
  • November 2007 seizure of 23.5 kg of heroin at Dhaka International Airport, bound for China, confirmed that heroin continues to be transshipped through Bangladesh.
  • Seizure of three kg of heroin from the Sylhet village home of a Bangladeshi UK resident, that came through India to Bangladesh from an unknown location
  • High-profile case of 75 kg heroin smuggling to the United Kingdom in 2005 proves that the country is being used as a drug transit route.
  • Officials charged with preventing drug trafficking lack training, equipment and resources to detect and interdict the flow of drugs.


climate change and security
Climate change and Security

Climate change is recognised as a major security issue that poses serious global threats.

Climate change affects individuals and communities around the world.

Climate change brings hunger, disease, poverty and poses a threat to social and, political stability.

Climate change can heighten existing social and political tensions or can lead to new ones.

If unchecked, climate change is likely to aggravate old and trigger new tensions.

the case of bangladesh
The case of Bangladesh

(Source:4th Assessement Report of IPCC, 2007)

According to the Fourth Assessment Report of IPCC following changes have been observed in climate trends, variability and extreme events in Bangladesh:

In Bangladesh, average temperature has registered an increasing trend of about 1°C in May and 0.5°C in November during the 14 year period from 1985 to 1998.

Frequency of monsoon depressions and cyclones formation in Bay of Bengal has increased.

Salt water from the Bay of Bengal is reported to have penetrated 100 km or more inland along tributary channels during the dry season.


Some devastating tropical cyclones since 1960


Between 1991 and 2000, 93 major disasters were recorded in Bangladesh, resulting in nearly 200,000 deaths and causing US $ 5.9 billion in damages.

salinity affected areas in the coastal and offshore regions of bangladesh
Salinity affected areas in the coastal and offshore regions of Bangladesh


climate change impacts conflict potentials
Climate change impacts: conflict potentials



Loss of place/

Source of living


Of people

State vs state conflict

Migration induced scarcity in the receiving society

State vs group conflict

group vs group conflict

transnational financial crime
Transnational financial crime

Financial crime refers to any non-violent crime

which results in a financial gain to the perpetrators

and loss to others or the state.It includes a range

of illegal activities such as:

  • corruption (bribery, speed money, kickbacks etc.)
  • financial fraud (accounting, check, credit card, mortgage, insurance fraud, counterfeit notes, securities or investment fraud, computer fraud etc.)
  • money laundering
  • tax evasion
  • circumvention of exchange restriction
  • illegal cross border fund transfer or capital flight
  • abuse of the financial system/institution etc.
transnational financial crime contd
Transnational Financial Crime (contd.)
  • Bangladesh is considered to be a safe heaven for financial crime.
  • Hundi or a black market money exchange (also known as hawala) is the mode used for cross border fund transfers.
  • Because of Hundi, the government each year loses a huge amount in potential revenue earnings
  • Estimated amount of US Dollar 1 billion worth of dutiable goods are smuggled each year from India.
financial crimes in bd legal regimes
Financial crimes in BD: Legal Regimes

Bangladesh has a number of legal regimes in place:

Foreign Exchange Regulations Act, 1947 (FERA)

Income Tax Ordinance, 1984

Money Laundering Prevention Act, 2002 (MLPA) and

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Act, 2004

legal regimes in preventing financial crimes the money laundering prevention act 2002
Legal regimes in preventing financial crimes: The Money Laundering Prevention Act 2002

Government has enacted Money Laundering Prevention Act in 2002. Some key points are:

  • Central Bank of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Bank, can conduct investigation to any alleged crime of money laundering.
  • Bangladesh Bank will observe or supervise all the financial activities.
  • Establishment of money laundering court.
  • Legal seizure of property.
  • Freezing the property.
  • Punishment for violating the rule.
  • Government can enter into agreement with foreign country.
infectious disease
Infectious Disease

In today’s world infectious diseases, especially AIDS, constituted a national security threat and a foreign policy challenge.

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries.

The high frequency of natural calamities in Bangladesh makes it more susceptible to pandemic outbreaks.

In case of any large-scale movement of IDPs, fleeing from the affected area of the outbreak, Bangladesh will lack any strategic depth to accommodate such people internally.

This situation can lead to cross border migration which can potentially lead to impasse and conflict with the India

hiv aids in bangladesh fact sheet
HIV/ AIDS in Bangladesh Fact sheet
  • HIV/AIDS prevalence and the number of AIDS cases remain low in Bangladesh, but are on the increase in some risk groups
  • Overall HIV prevalence remains under 0.1 percent among the general population in Bangladesh
  • UNAIDS estimates that about 12,000 Bangladeshis were living with HIV at the end of 2007
  • Till December 2004, only 465 cases were officially reported.
  • Significant underreporting of cases occurs because of the country's limited voluntary testing and counseling capacity.
  • UNAIDS estimates that there are 4.5 HIV positives in India, which is a grave concern for Bangladesh.
transnational criminal organization
Transnational Criminal Organization
  • The process of globalisation have facilitated the development of Transnational Criminal Organisations (TCO).
  • TCOs have formed strategic alliances to traffic in drugs, arms, intellectual property, humans, archeological treasures and a number of other lucrative but illegal trades all over the world.
  • In Bangladesh, for instance, a well-organised criminal network exists that traffics women and children to India, Pakistan and the Middle East for prostitution and domestic work, while children are sent to the Middle East to become camel jockeys.
water security in bd transnational perspective
Water security in BD: Transnational Perspective

The Himalayan River Basin countries- China, Bangladesh, India and Nepal – share a common ecology and river system.

Being a lower riparian country, availability of river water in Bangladesh depends much on the flow of water from the upstream countries.

BD-India Share 54 trans-boundary rivers

Unilateral withdrawals of river water by India have severe impacts for Bangladesh.

Government of India (GOI) is constructing various dams on many of those rivers and implementing a “river linking project” to link up major rivers to hold up water in reservoirs

Such dams and the river linking project render negative ecological and environmental changes into Bangladesh

water security in bd contd
Water security in BD (contd.)

Map: The river linking project of India

The entire agricultural sector of the country is highly dependent on fresh water for irrigation

The lack of available water during the dry season reduces the agricultural output which is the lifeline of economy of the country

This situation will also eventually trigger intra-/inter-state conflict across the region due to increasing trend of cross-border migration

response mechanisms
Response Mechanisms
  • Capacity building of the states.
  • Intelligence sharing.
  • Regional regulatory framework.
  • Social awareness.
  • Political will and co-operation.
  • Role of international organization.
  • Legal regimes.
  • Global consensus.

Bangladesh is a geo-strategically significant country and sits in close proximity to two ‘would be’ superpowers.

If left unchecked, transnational problems facing Bangladesh will have serious consequences for the entire region

Given the economic and political vulnerability, Bangladesh can not face-off such challenges alone.

A concerted effort needs to be taken across the region to develop a collaborative mechanism to effectively deal with such threats.

thank you
Thank you

Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS)