Bangladesh has shown success in countering violent extremism, which is a priority area for the government

This was the observation made by Major General (Retd) Tariq Ahmed Siddique, Security Affairs Advisor to the Honorable Prime Minister at the inaugural session of a Regional Conference on Countering Violent Extremism through Strategic Communications, which concluded in Dhaka yesterday. His Excellency Mr. Dan W. Mozena, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, who was the Special Guest, stated that the U.S. would continue its support towards Bangladesh in countering violent extremism. The Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) organized this conference in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Center for Civil-Military Relations (CCMR). This conference brought together 47 participants from Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Participants included civilian government officials, senior military officials and officials of law enforcement agencies.

The objectives of the conference were to share best practices and explore ways to coordinate counter-radicalization efforts among the represented countries. The Chief Guest at the Inaugural Session was Major General (Retd) Tariq Ahmed Siddique, Security Affairs Advisor to the Honorable Prime Minister. Mr. Farooq Sobhan, former Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh, and currently President of BEI, Ambassador (retd) Humayun Kabir, Vice President, BEI, Dr. Paul Clarke and Dr. Tom Mockaitis from the Center for Civil Military Relations of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School were the moderators of the three day workshop.

Five plenary and eleven breakout group sessions were held during the three days of the conference. The country presentations made by the participants highlighted that South Asian nations have begun adopting a more holistic approach in their counterterrorism strategies to counter the development of extreme attitudes and behaviors that can encourage acts of terrorism. This conference particularly highlighted the importance of strategic communication as a tool to counter violent extremism. Participants deliberated in detail on the use of strategic communication by their respective countries to counter violent and radical narratives perpetrated by extremist groups. Participants in the conference discussed the need for strengthening relationships among the organizations and agencies involved in counter-radicalization efforts and areas of cooperation and collaboration. Throughout the three days, conference participants heard from experts and fellow professionals on the challenges facing the region and their experience in countering messages of violence.

The conference facilitated the sharing of best practices in countering extremism through strategic communication, accentuated the need for a comprehensive strategy to counter-extremism in each country and strengthens oversight mechanisms.  The conference concluded with policy recommendations for follow up actions and the awarding of certificates to participants.

24 January, 2012