Bangladesh will bar citizens who left to join the Islamic State in Syria, authorities told BenarNews on Tuesday, as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines took divergent steps in preparation for the possible return of their nationals after U.S.-backed forces demolished the extremist group’s last territorial pocket over the weekend.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by U.S. airstrikes, announced on Saturday that they had captured the last IS stronghold in eastern Syria’s Deir Ezzor province and arrested almost 800 foreign fighters, including an unspecified number of Bangladeshis.
“If any suspect, in some ways, manages to arrive, we will arrest them and try them in accordance with law. We will not allow any terrorists to come to Bangladesh,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews, when asked about the government’s policy in case any Bangladeshi who fought for IS tried to return home.
The United States and other countries have largely refused to reclaim their nationals. During the past two weeks, thousands of people fled Deir Ezzor, on the west bank of the Euphrates River, according to an SDF spokesman.
Dhaka authorities have not determined exactly how many Bangladeshis left the country to join the militants who rampaged across Syria and Iraq and seized territory in 2014. But Khan said suspected IS fighters or supporters would be taken into custody if they landed at any airport in Bangladesh.
“We have instructed the airports to remain alert for them,” he said.
Full story: BenarNews
Prapti Rahman, Rina Chadijah, Muzliza Mustafa and Jason Gutierrez
Dhaka, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila
Copyright ©2019, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.