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America’s sanctions on RAB and officers can be lifted

United States, Rapid Action Battalion, RAB, Bangladesh, UN, Treasury Department, Judiciary Department, State Department, NCA, UK Financial Intelligence Unit, Serious Fraud Office


America’s sanctions on RAB and officers can be lifted

Sanctions imposed by the United States on Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and several officers of this anti-terrorism elite force can be lifted within months once Bangladesh can adopt effective policies and measures. It should be mentioned here that, the January 10, 2022 sanctions was a result of months of desperate bids of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jamaat-e-Islami and other anti-Bangladesh forces as well their lobbyists. These vicious circles have not only been making frantic bids in misleading the US authorities about Rapid Action Battalion, they also have submitted numerous propaganda materials and so-called dossiers to the members of the US Congress and Senate as well as the Treasury Department, Judiciary Department and State Department. Meanwhile, at the persuasion of anti-Bangladesh forces, 12 human rights groups in a letter to Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix voiced concern “that individuals who have served with [RAB] are being sent on UN missions, despite consistent and credible evidence of abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances by members of this unit since its creation in 2004″.

It may be mentioned here that, Bangladesh is one of the top troops and police contributors to UN peacekeeping. In 2020, it was the highest contributor, deploying 6,731 uniformed personnel to various missions. According to highly-place sources in the United Nations, despite the letters sent by several rights groups, policymakers in the UN may not take any immediate steps in this regard.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s junior minister for Foreign Affairs, Shahriar Alam on February 3, 2022 has expressed firm believe stating, there is no possibility of any further expansion of the US sanctions on Bangladesh. Speaking to the media, he said: “From my belief, I can tell you confidently there’s no possibility of expansion of the US sanctions”.

Brushing aside the rumors centering imposing further sanctions by the United Nations and the European Union (EU), Alam said there will be no impact of the sanction in other areas.


The junior minister said Dhaka has been remain engaged on many issues since the US imposed sanctions on some current and former
officials of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

Terming the RAB as a success story to curb terrorism and drug trafficking, Alam said it is the government’s responsibility to
protect the RAB and its officers.


He said the government has written to both US State Department and Treasury to know more reason behind the sanctions. “They (US) informed us that they will reply the queries,” he added.

Alam said they are looking into legal issues to undo the US sanctions. “We have already discussed the matters with more than one
legal expert”, he added.


The Bangladeshi junior minister’s comment came amid media reports stating the Biden administration is going to impose sanctions on a large number of politicians and civil-military bureaucrats in Bangladesh for possessing properties and businesses in the United States and for laundering millions of dollars.

Earlier, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said, BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami had appointed eight lobbyist firms so that the US stops providing aid and development assistance to Bangladesh.


While delivering his statement in the parliament, Momen said that the government has also proof that BNP, through appointing lobbyists, was involved in imposing US sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and appealed to the United Nations Department of Peace Operations to ban the force from UN deployment.

The minister raised questions about the source of huge money that BNP had spent to pay those lobbyist firms, and demanded an investigation into how that money was sent abroad.


The foreign minister also said hiring lobbyists in the US is a legal process under the US law. India, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other countries and organizations around the world appoint lobbyists to improve political and economic relations, he added.

Stating that lifting of sanctions against the RAB will take time, Momen said that the United States would lift its sanctions on the RAB if accurate information is provided to them.


Indicating that it would take some time to lift the embargo, the foreign minister said, “We have held several meetings with the USA. Inshallah, whenever we will be able to provide the information to them properly, I believe the sanction will be withdrawn from a very good organization like RAB”.

The minister added, “But the process will not start tomorrow (soon). It will take time. We have to be patient”.


In my personal opinion, Bangladesh side should begin expeditious efforts in convincing the US authorities to lift sanctions it has imposed on RAB and several officers of this elite force. To attain success in such crucial effort, we definitely should not start believing that the sanctions cannot be lifted soon. In fact, if we adopt effective measures, these sanctions can even be lifted within 6-9 months. It should be mentioned here that, from November 8, 2022, political landscape in the US shall substantially change with Republicans gaining control of the Congress and the Senate. We can benefit from this upcoming scenario only if we can refrain from wasting time by indulging into delusion or illusion. We need to adopt and apply extremely effective measures without wasting time.

We also need to remember, while our efforts should be focused on convincing the US authorities in lifting sanctions on RAB and several officers, it is essential for us to remain vigilant about notorious actions of some rights groups and anti-Bangladesh elements, which are trying to mislead the United Nations and also get sanction from this organization on participation of members (current and previous) of RAB in the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces (UNPKF). Although it my sincerest believe that the UN shall not jump into conclusion and take any wrong steps by imposing sanctions by paying hid to the letters from the rights groups, Bangladesh authorities definitely need to take urgent measures in notifying the officials of the United Nations about praiseworthy role of RAB in combating terrorism and drugs. Such efforts should begin forthwith.


Meanwhile, vested interest groups are also working tirelessly in misleading the European Union and Britain with the ulterior motive of getting sanctions on RAB and several individuals in Bangladesh. These elements are reportedly pursuing the matters with National Crime Agency (NCA), UK Financial Intelligence Unit and Serious Fraud Office and providing dossiers and information about the targeted individuals.

Patriotic forces in Bangladesh need to stand united and combat all of these evil attempts of the vested interest groups. Unless we act fast, we may face newer challenges and adversities.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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