Police in Bangladesh say they have identified the financiers of the attack on a café in July in which 29 people, most foreign nationals, died.
The attack which took place in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter last July was claimed by the Islamic State group, days after the Bangladesh government declared that the incident was masterminded by a home-grown Islamic group and was unrelated to international terrorism
This latest development seems to confirm that a group known as the New Jamaat-Ul-Mujahideen was funded by three individuals one of whom is a doctor believed to have provided the equivalent of £81,000 and is now in Syria’s Islamic State group territory with his family. The other two was a retired army major who donated his savings and pension and another who donated money from the sale of a flat in Dakar.
In a news conference, the head of Bangladesh’s counter-terrorism police said that the authorities were trying to trace money that had been sent from abroad.
Following the attack, police have killed almost 40 people suspected of being involved in the café attack. On 27 August, the man thought to be the mastermind, Bangladesh-born Canadian citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury was gunned down in a raid in Narayanganj. At the time of announcing his death, police renewed the assertion that there was no direct connection with the Islamic State group despite the group making the claim on social media. The I.S. group confirmed that Chowdhury known as Abu Ibrahim Al Hanif was the Emir of the group in Bangladesh.
Authorities are aware that Tamim had travelled to Syria between 2012-13 and had returned to Bangladesh. In an interview with Dabiq, the official publication of the Islamic State group he is reported to have said, "Bengal is an important region for the Khilāfah and the global jihād due to its strategic geographic position. Bengal is located on the eastern side of India, whereas Wilāyat Khurāsān (Pakistan) is located on its western side. Thus, having a strong jihād base in Bengal will facilitate performing guerilla attacks inside India simultaneously from both sides and facilitate creating a condition of ‘tawahhush’ (fear and chaos) in India along with the help of the existing local mujāhidīn there.” `His words were carried on the English Hindustan Times website two days after the attack.
Some observers believe a wave of targeted murders where secular bloggers have been killed is the work of the Islamic State group. Others like the former US ambassador to Bangladesh believe that the killing the atmosphere of retaliatory violence for the oppressive ruling Awami League policy against its opponents.
According to a Bangladeshi human rights organization, Odhikar, there have been as many as 202 disappearances of dissidents and opposition politicians since 2009. The Rapid Action Battalion, a government paramilitary force, critics claim, is responsible.
Commentators speaking to “Muslim Eye” say the government of Sheikh Hasina Wajed is sending mixed messages. They argue that her zeal to hang on to power and silence opposition means that there have been forced disappearances of opposition politicians and clampdowns on the press. They also point to the widely criticized International Criminal Tribunal which has executed members of the Jamaat-i-Islami party.
Nevertheless, observers say Hasina’s secular government also wants to appear tolerant of Islam while doing little to bring to justice those responsible for the spate of killings of activists and secular bloggers. On one occasion, she freed a man who attacked a blogger arguing that ‘freedom of expression’ although valuable should not amount to a license for hurting ‘religious sentiments.”
These latest developments could now put pressure on the government to finally recognise the connection between the violence in the country and the Islamic State and do more to prevent attacks on activists. Until now, commentators say Hasina has benefited from the situation while claiming to be rooting out those responsible for the violence, she is in fact going after opposition forces that threaten her hold on power.
With 30 killings since 2013 Bangladesh government stand accused of allowing assassins to operate with impunity!