Authorities in Bangladesh are not taking lightly a “so-called Islamic State video” that threatens attacks on foreigners, politicians and religious minorities in the country, a senior security official said Monday.
Amaq, the extremist group’s news agency, posted the video online late Friday, a day after Bangladeshi authorities announced the arrests of five suspected members of Neo-JMB, a local militant group aligned with Islamic State (IS). Officials blamed Neo-JMB for the South Asian nation’s deadliest terrorist attack, an overnight siege that killed 29 people at a Dhaka café in 2016.
“We have seen the so-called IS video. We have yet to find out who made it. We are examining it,” Saiful Islam, a deputy commissioner of the Bangladeshi police’s counter-terrorism unit, told BenarNews.
Police had yet to determine whether the video was filmed inside Bangladesh.
“We are not sure whether the video is a new film or a recycled one,” he said. “But be it a new or old one, we are not taking the video lightly.”
Islam said the police would carry on with operations against militants.
“We are cautious. Already we have arrested five members of the ‘wolf pack,’” Islam said, referring to the five suspects arrested in Dhaka’s Bashundhara residential area on Thursday.
With the arrests, authorities thwarted plans by militants to target law-enforcement agencies in terror attacks, police said during a news conference on Friday. Officials did not elaborate.
The video could have been released as part of a “conspiracy,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said.
“A quarter has been conspiring through the release of such IS videos,” Khan told BenarNews. He did not name names or identify the group.
“The purpose of such a video release is to prove that IS has a presence in Bangladesh. If they can prove it, they will get benefits,” he said. “We are aware of such moves. No international terrorist network is present in Bangladesh.”
Video released Aug. 9
SITE intelligence, a U.S.-based group that monitors online communications among Muslim militants, told BenarNews that the video was released on Aug. 9.
The eight-minute, 10-second video shows four militants, their faces covered, making threats in Bengali. The four men – two wearing what appeared to be explosive vests and two carrying rifles – stand in a room with an IS flag on the wall.
The four give their pledge of allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after one of them says that security forces and government offices are legitimate targets of militant operations.
The men in the video also threaten to attack members of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League, U.S. citizens, minority Hindu and Buddhists, government offices and police outposts.
The video was released less than a month after the United Nations warned that IS, despite being defeated in its final stronghold in Syria in March, could launch terrorist attacks in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Europe before the end of the year.
Analysts with the U.N. Security Council’s counter-terrorism committee said in a 24-page report that IS was exploring ways to “reinvest in the capacity to direct and facilitate complex international attacks.” The report was based on intelligence assessments of U.N. member states, analysts said.
“The current abatement of such attacks, therefore, may not last long, possibly not even until the end of 2019,” the report said.
A couple of days after the Dhaka café attack in 2016, Islamic State released a video from Syria, praising the act. The video also warned of more attacks in Bangladesh.
In 2016, senior Bangladeshi officials, who have long denied an IS presence in Bangladesh, acknowledged that a propaganda video that was released on Sept. 24 of that year was filmed in Bangladesh. The video included footage of the five men who carried out the café attack.