The Islamic State warned on Wednesday of more attacks in Bangladesh until Shariah law is established, saying in a new video last week’s massacre of 20 hostages in a Dhaka cafe was only a glimpse of what is to come.
The video, posted on IS-affiliated websites, reflected the terror group’s focus on Bangladesh in recent months. Besides claiming the killing of several secular bloggers and Hindu priests, the IS chief for the country said he intends to use his fighters to mount guerrilla strikes inside India.
“What you witnessed in Bangladesh...was a glimpse. This will repeat, repeat and repeat until you lose and we win and the Shariah is established throughout the world,” said a man identified as Bangladeshi fighter Abu Issa al-Bengali in the video monitored by SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadi organisations.
The video, which began with pictures of recent attacks in Paris, Brussels and Orlando in the US claimed by the IS, was shot in the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria.
Three fighters featured in the video are of Bangladeshi origin and they spoke in a mix of Bengali and English. One had his face covered with a keffiyeh and two others were bearded.
The fighters said Bangladesh is part of a bigger battlefield to establish the “caliphate” proclaimed by the IS in 2014 and the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery was “revenge” for the killing of Muslims by “crusaders”.
They also said they would not stop until Shariah or Islamic law is established across the world. “The jihad that has come to Bangladesh now has been promised by Prophet Mohammed,” one fighter said.
“We will not stop killing the crusaders till then; we will win or die for our religion as martyrs and achieve sahadaat (martyrdom)...we don’t have anything to lose.”
The fighters described Bangladesh’s democracy as “shirk” or unforgivable crime and the government as “kafir”.
“Crusaders are killing innocents Muslims globally with planes and bomb attacks…
So the Holey Artisan incident is our revenge for the lost blood of the hundreds and hundreds of Muslims who were killed,” another fighter said.
A group of heavily armed militants stormed the upmarket café on Friday and butchered 20 people, most of them foreigners from Italy, Japan, India and the US, before they were gunned down by security forces the next morning.
Three of the attackers were from wealthy, liberal families of Dhaka and two more were from low-income families. The IS issued photos of five attackers and images of the dead hostages inside the café.
As with other assaults claimed by the IS, the Bangladesh government rejected the group’s claim of responsibility for Friday’s attack and blamed it on the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which has pledged allegiance to the IS.
However, police said they were stepping up security in response to the video threat. “We are taking this issue seriously. All our concerned units are working tirelessly,” said deputy inspector general of police Shahidur Rahman.
Police have said they are hunting for six JMB members suspected to have helped the attackers.
Foreign security experts say the scale and sophistication of the strike on the Holey Artisan Bakery pointed to some level of guidance from international militant groups. HT Imam, a political adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said security officials had seen online warnings about an impending attack on Friday and ordered major hotels and restaurants near the cafe shut but they missed the actual target.
In an interview with the IS magazine Dabiq in April, Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, the ‘amir’ of the group in Bangladesh, had said IS fighters in Pakistan and Bangladesh will mount “guerrilla attacks inside India” and create fear and chaos by working with local mujahideen.
Al-Hanif said Bangladesh, referred to by the IS as “Bengal”, is an important region for the group’s so-called caliphate and the global jihad due to its “strategic geographic position”.
“Bengal is located on the eastern side of India, whereas Wilayat Khurasan is located on its western side. Thus, having a strong jihad base in Bengal will facilitate performing guerrilla attacks inside India simultaneously from both sides and facilitate creating a condition of tawahhush (fear and chaos) in India...,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)