Though Dhaka insisted the Gulshan café massacre was instigated by local Islamist fundamentalists, Indian and western intelligence agencies confirmed that Friday’s attack was mounted by the Bangladeshi module of the Islamic State led by Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif with foreigners as the main target.
Top government sources told HT that Indian agencies were briefed by their Bangladeshi counterparts on Saturday afternoon after being tight-lipped about the attack for more than 12 hours. The attack led to Indian agencies alerting the police in West Bengal and Assam, where the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) has been active since 2006.
The JMB terror group, which owes allegiance to the IS, declared West Bengal its 65th chapter in 2006. After a October 2, 2014 explosion in Burdwan, Indian security agencies busted the JMB’s bomb-making modules in West Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand, which had already sent five or six bomb consignments to Bangladesh. The chief bomb maker was identified as Hath Kata Nasrullah, who absconded and has been at large since.
Though the Sheikh Hasina government blamed recent attacks on local Islamists opposed to her regime, IS propaganda magazine Dabiq carried an article titled “The Revival of Jihad in Bengal with the spread of light of the Khilafah” in May.
The first evidence of IS activity in Bangladesh was available when Asif Adnan, Mohammed Faile Elahi and Samiun Rahaman were arrested for planning to travel to Syria to join the IS.
There has been a series of Indian intelligence inputs that a large number of Bangladeshis have been radicalised by the IS over the internet.
Consequent to the ban on the Hizb-ut-Tehrir, JMB, Harkat ul Jihad al-Islam, Ansarullah Bangla Team and Shaheed Hamza Brigade, their leaders formed groups with different names.
“The crackdown by the Bangladeshi government on terror groups has furthered the inclination of some radicals towards the IS. The mushrooming of radical Islamists has added to terrorist activity, with these groups capturing the online space in Bangladesh,” a senior intelligence official said.