Information Minister Hasan Mahmud on Monday said al-Qaeda has no presence in Bangladesh as claimed in a "thoughtless remark" by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"Our Foreign Ministry has strongly protested against the remark. It's unfortunate when such thoughtless statements come from the secretary of state of a country like the USA," he told reporters during a briefing at the Secretariat.
Mahmud referred to the Jan 6 US Capitol insurrection in which five people were killed, and said no such attack took place in Bangladesh or neighbouring countries. The FBI has warned of armed protests ahead of Wednesday's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
"Considering the current situation of the US, I think they should focus more on tackling homegrown extremism," the minister said.
He sidestepped a question on whether he thinks Bangladesh's law and order situation is better than the USA.
On January 14, President Donald Trump was impeached by the US House for a historic second time and charged with "incitement of insurrection" over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol.
Pompeo's remarks and MoFA's response
Pompeo recently mentioned Bangladesh as a place where terrorist group al-Qaeda carried out attacks, falsely apprehending similar terrorist attacks in future.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a protest note on Jan 13 said "such irresponsible comment by a senior leader is very unfortunate and unacceptable".
Bangladesh strongly rejected the "baseless remarks and falsification", pointing out that there is no evidence of any presence of al-Qaeda in Bangladesh.
The country maintains a "zero-tolerance" policy against all forms of terrorism and violent extremism, and has been undertaking all possible measures and actions to address the menace, MoFA said.
"Our track record in countering terrorism has earned us global appreciation," it said.
If any such claim could be substantiated with evidence, Bangladesh would be happy to take necessary measures against such activities, Dhaka said.
"However, if such a statement is made out of speculation, Bangladesh considers it very unfortunate, specially in the context of the ever-growing bilateral ties between the two friendly countries based on shared values, peace and common goals," reads the statement issued by MoFA.