Bangladeshi Minister Dismisses Threats in New IS Publication as ‘Hollow Warning’

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
2016.10.06
Dhaka
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161006-BD-wargame-1000.jpg Bangladeshi commandos disembark from a helicopter during a mock war game at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on the eve of a cricket match between Bangladesh and England, Oct. 6, 2016.
AFP

Bangladesh’s home minister on Thursday dismissed threats against the country contained in an article that the main planner of a terrorist attack in Dhaka in July purportedly penned before police gunned him down.

The newly published article is the latest attempt by extremist group Islamic State to glorify the massacre at a local café. It echoes a recent IS video in which the five young Bangladeshi attackers, who were all killed, each gave on-camera testimonials as they brandished an assault rifle and stood in front of IS’s black flag.

The article appeared this week in Rumiyah, a new propaganda magazine disseminated by al-Hayat, IS’s media wing, and a copy of which was obtained by BenarNews.

IS has claimed that its fighters carried out the attack but, in responding to the article, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal repeated his earlier claim that Islamic State has no presence in Bangladesh and that a home-grown militant group was behind the July 1 attack.

“This is ploy to intimidate the foreigners. We have adopted maximum measures to crush the militants. We will root them out at any cost,” the minister told BenarNews.

The July 1 massacre at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan, Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter, left 29 dead: 20 diners, five attackers, two policemen shot from inside the cafe, a restaurant worker and a wounded man who later died of his injuries. Seventeen of the dead were foreign nationals.

Since then close to 20 suspected members of Neo JMB, a faction of militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), have been killed in raids conducted by Bangladeshi police and counter-terrorist forces.

“What I can assure you is that we have broken their backbone; all the major leaders were killed in gunfights with the police. They are talking tall for coverage and intimidating people. This is nothing but a hollow warning,” Kamal said.

‘Just a glimpse’

The slain suspects included Bangladeshi-born Canadian citizen Tamim Chowdhury who, according to local authorities, headed the Neo-JMB faction which they blame for the café attack.

Chowdhury, who was killed along with two other suspected militants in a raid in Naryaganj district on Aug. 27, purportedly wrote the article published in Rumiyah.

Headlined “The Shuhada of the Gulshan Attack,” the article carries Chowdhury’s byline and an alias (Abu Dujanah al-Bengali). The article identifies the writer as the “Former Head of Military and Covert Operations of the Soldiers of the Kalifah in Bengal.”

Earlier this year another IS propaganda magazine, Dabiq, published an interview with Chowdhury whom it described as “the emir” of IS’s “caliphate in Bengal,” according to Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper.

“The mujahidin will continue discovering ‘security gaps and holes’ and lay in ambush for the crusaders whatever they can be found. The mujahidin will target expats, tourists, diplomats, garment buyers, missionaries, sports teams, and anyone else from the Crusader citizens to be found in Bengal until the land is purified from the Crusaders and all other kuffars and the law of Allah is established in the land,” according to the article in Rumiyah.

“... Cesare Tavella was just a warning, the Gulshan attack was just a glimpse, and what is yet to come by the permission of Allah will be worse and far more bitter,” says the article, referring to the killing of an Italian aid worker in Dhaka last year.

The September 2015 attack of Tavella occurred amid a wave of killings by suspected militants targeting secular bloggers and religious minorities. These resulted in Western embassies issuing travel warnings for Bangladesh and the Australian men’s cricket team postponing a tour of the nation at the end of last year.

Despite ongoing safety concerns the English men’s cricket team has agreed to play in Bangladesh starting this week. The home minister told BenarNews that the government had assured the visiting team its players and coaches would be protected through “maximum security” during their stay.

On Thursday, the eve of a series of matches scheduled to be played between England and Bangladesh, local army commandos conducted war-game exercises at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka, the venue for the matches.

The publication of the article followed the dissemination in late September of an online video released by IS and which included scenes shot inside Bangladesh, officials acknowledged.

The video also threatened more terrorist attacks and vowed action against Bangladeshi clerics who had spoken out against militant groups.

Islamic scholar Maulana Farid Uddin Masud was criticized in the video because he had spearheaded an anti-militancy fatwa (religious decree) signed by 100,000 clerics.

“The way they term the non-Muslims, the Crusaders, is very objectionable. The IS Islam is not Islam; this is a total distortion of Islam. Allah says killing of one person is tantamount to killing of the whole human being,” he told BenarNews on Thursday.

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