A video has appeared online in which three Bengali-speaking men praise last week’s IS-claimed terrorist attack on a restaurant in Dhaka and warn of more attacks to come.
SITE Intelligence, a U.S.-based group that monitors communications and propaganda disseminated online by Islamic State and other extremist groups, said Wednesday that the three men were “Bangladeshi IS fighters” and that the video was shot in Raqqah, the group’s Syrian stronghold.
“[W]hat you witnessed in Bangladesh yesterday was just a glimpse. This will repeat, repeat and repeat until you lose and we win, and the Sharia is established throughout the world,” a man in the video, viewed by BenarNews, says in English during a monologue in which he mostly speaks in Bengali.
The speaker was referring to the July 1-2 attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter that killed at least 20 hostages and two police officers.
Bangladeshi authorities, who have denied that IS has a presence in their country, late Wednesday warned people not to circulate the video, and asked journalists to use the highest ethical standards in reporting about it.
“Uploading, sharing or commenting on or liking any video, photo, message in favor of the IS or militancy in social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is a punishable offense,” Bangladeshi police said in a statement obtained by BenarNews.
“Bangladesh police urge people to refrain from such activities. Legal actions will follow against anyone uploading, sharing, commenting or liking such videos, photos or messages,” the statement added.
Anyone caught promoting militancy online could be prosecuted under the nation’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Act, with maximum punishment of 14 years in jail, a senior police officers said later.
“As a journalist you can report on the video, adhering to journalistic ethics. If the reporting is against militancy, I think that should be fine. But if you, as a journalist, write in favor of militancy, that will not be acceptable,” Deputy Inspector General of Police A.K.M. Shahidur Rahman told BenarNews.
‘He did not mean it as a joke’
In the four-minute video, the first speaker wears black head gear and a gray shirt as he stands and faces the camera with his back to a street busy with passing cars.
“[I] want to send this message to the crusaders – to the Christians and the Jews, and the crusaders and their allies. When our Sheikh Adnani ordered us to fight and to fight against you, he did not mean it as a joke,” referring to Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the spokesman for IS.
Adnani last month issued a worldwide call for IS supporters to make the Islamic month of Ramadan “ a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers,” according to Rohan Gunaratna, a BenarNews columnist who heads the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore.
Speakers in the video also warn people in Bangladesh not to support democracy, saying that this type of government undermined the Quran by allowing people to make and change laws.
Police said they were increasing security in response to the threat-video.
“We are taking this issue seriously. All our concerned units are working tirelessly,” Rahman, the deputy police chief, told Reuters.
The news agency earlier quoted an adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as saying that Bangladeshi authorities may have missed warnings of an imminent attack in the capital that were posted on Twitter on Friday.
On Friday evening, a group of armed men stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery, an upscale restaurant, and took hostages in a siege that lasted at least 10 hours.
According to witness accounts, the attackers separated non-Muslim hostages from Muslims and went about hacking to death some of their captives.
The 20 slain hostages included nine Italians, seven Japanese, an Indian citizen, a dual U.S.-Bangladeshi citizen and two Bangladeshis.
Five suspected hostage takers – all Bangladeshis – were killed and one suspect was captured alive when security forces stormed the café on Saturday. They rescued 13 other hostages but shot dead a sixth man.
On Tuesday, officials said he may have been a hostage. But the next day, police said that this man, Saiful Islam Chowdhury who worked as a pizza maker at the restaurant, had likely collaborated with the terrorists, Reuters reported.
Chowdhury carried no weapons but was seen “moving and running” with the five gunmen during the standoff, Reuters quoted police counter-terror chief Monrul Islam as saying.
Also on Wednesday, the family of a Canadian citizen, Tahmid Hasib Khan, who was one of the hostages in the Dhaka standoff, said he was still being held for questioning by police, according to the Associated Press. AP reported that five former hostages had been held for questioning but three of them have been released.
Most of the five attackers were educated members of Bangladesh’s elite, who attended some of the most prestigious schools in Dhaka, according to reports.
Police on Wednesday were questioning relatives of the five men, an anonymous source told AP.
One of the five slain suspects, Rohan Ibn Imtiaz, was the son of Imtiaz Khan Babul, a politician in the ruling Awami League party.
On Wednesday, Babul told AP that many educated young men like his dead son had gone missing for several months before last week’s attack took place. He urged the government to take such cases more seriously.
"Those who have recruited them have done it with a target," he said, referring to their family backgrounds. "Their (parents) are not speaking to the media, fearing their sons might be killed, leaving them in great torment,” AP quoted Babul as saying.