Bangladesh: Court Declares Suspects Are ‘Islamic State Agents’

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
2015.11.24
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151124-BD-isischarge-620 Police present alleged IS coordinator Sakhawatul Kabir, front left, and three other IS suspects to the press, Nov. 24, 2015.
BenarNews

A court in Dhaka on Tuesday ordered four alleged “Islamic State agents” in Bangladesh to face trial, even as the home minister continued to reject claims of an IS presence in Bangladesh.

Assistant public prosecutor AKM Bashiruddin Miah told BenarNews that the court had ordered a Feb. 25 trial of the alleged IS coordinator.

“The police have recovered books, videos, leaflets promoting the IS. They are IS agents in Bangladesh. We will show the evidence that they are IS members when the trial starts,” Miah said.

Dhaka police detectives arrested suspect Sakhawatul Kabir in the Jatrabari area of Dhaka in January.

After an investigation, police inspector A.K.M. Kamrul Ahsan on May 15 submitted a charge-sheet alleging that Kabir, following directives of the international terrorist organization IS, was holding a meeting to recruit new members when he was nabbed.

Police arrested three other alleged IS agents – named as Anwar Hossain Baten, Robiul Islam and Nazrul Islam – from Dhaka’s Khilkhet area, according to the charge sheet.

‘This is a mistake’

“The IS has no presence in Bangladesh. Some low profile militants have been using the IS name to add value to their names,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Tuesday.

“The police may have brought the IS charge … this is a mistake,” he said when asked about the apparent contradiction.

Lawyer Prakash Chandra Biswas, who attended the court hearing on Tuesday, said police branded the suspects IS agents from looking at the books, videos and leaflets they possessed.

“I think the videos and books are not enough to bring some serious charges like this. They may be JMB (Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh) or Harkatul Jihad. The police have failed to produce any credible evidence in favor of the IS charge,” Biswas, a practicing lawyer at Dhaka’s lower court for 24 years, told BenarNews.

He said the police inspector brought the charge to please ranking police officials and the government that maintains a tough stance on militants.

Group linked IS to recent attacks

Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella and Japanese agricultural expert Kunio Hoshi were gunned down on Sept. 28 and Oct. 3 respectively. On Oct. 24, extremists carried out the first ever bomb attack on the minority Shiites in Bangladesh, killing two people, and on Nov. 4, a policeman was stabbed to death at a checkpoint in Dhaka’s Savar suburb.

The U.S.-based jihadi monitoring SITE Intelligence Group reported that the IS claimed responsibilities for all those attacks. But the government never accepted the SITE report and Khan said the group is out to defame Bangladesh.

Former army chief Gen. Mahbubur Rahman told BenarNews the government should explore the possible presence of IS.

“Unfortunately, we have been in the culture of denial. The government should examine whether the IS is represented here. Such an approach will bring good to us. The militants must be checked at any cost,” he said.

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