ISIS taking preparation of attacks in West Bengal in India

Anita Mathur

Mouthpiece of radical Islamic militancy outfit Islamic State (ISIS) issued a statement through its mouthpiece ‘Amaq’. The original statement in Arabic was following by Bangla translation along with the transcript of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s speech. Meanwhile Indian intelligence agencies are considering the blast of a crude bomb in Dhaka’s Gulistan area, which they see as “smokescreen” and the “real attack” may still be coming either in Bangladesh or West Bengal in India. According to media reports, ISIS claimed responsibility of a minor explosion of a crude bomb which took place at around 7:30 in the evening on April 29, 2019.

Baghdadi blamed its demise on the “savagery” of Christians in the 18-minute video in which he was seen sitting cross-legged alongside a Kalashnikov rifle and appeared to be limited in his movements.

“Truthfully, the battle of Islam and its people against the cross and its people is a long battle. The battle of Baghuz is over. But it did show the savagery, brutality and ill intentions of the Christians towards the Muslim community,” Baghdadi said in the video.

Meanwhile ISIS has named one Abu Muhammed al-Bengali as its ‘new emir’ in ‘Bengal’. On April 30, 2019, an ISIS-affiliated jihadist group issued a direct threat to carry out strikes in India and Bangladesh. It said, “If you think you have silenced the soldiers of Khilafa in Bengal and Hind and you are certain about that then listen we men are never to be silenced .. And are thirst for revenge is never to be faded away (sic)”.

Speaking to the reporters, Dhaka Metropolitan Police chief Asaduzzaman Mia said that the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime and DMP’s bomb disposal units were still investigating the case of blast in Dhaka’s Gulistan area. He further said, the improvised bomb that exploded was different from normal crude bombs.

Security agencies in Bangladesh and India had already started investigating the ISIS poster which read – “Shighroi Ashchhe (coming soon), Inshallah”, which came into circulation through Telegram. The poster flashed the logo of a group called al Mursalat and the April 30 threat was made by the same group.

Sweden based Bangladeshi ‘reporter’ and self-styled expert on militancy, Tasneem Khalil had trashed the April 29th ISIS poster stating it was not a threat from the militancy group. Instead, it was a promotional of a program. But hours later, he changed his statement stating ISIS had issued a threat.

An officer of Indian security agency told the media, “It is serious.. IS has just managed to pull of serial blast in Colombo through a local outfit called Tawheed Jamaat. Bangladesh already has a strong Islamic State presence with a section of the local terrorist organization named Jamatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (New JMB) being affiliated to the ISIS central.

Commenting on the latest threats by Islamic State, internationally known anti-jihadist journalist and counter-militancy expert Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury said, “To my knowledge, under the banner of Hizbul Mujahedin, JMB operatives have been known to recruit and establish hideouts in Kolkata and others parts of West Bengal and neighboring states. Moreover, JMB is silently gaining strength in Bangladesh too. Three years ago, local JMB sleeper cells had put up posters in several districts of West Bengal asking the youth to join the terrorist organization. Only recently, the existence and circulation of the Bengali poster is being taken seriously as the ISIS recently carried out over eight deadly serial blasts in Sri Lanka through local outfit Tawheed Jamaat”.

He said, “In Bangladesh, another jihadist outfit named Hizbut Tahrir also has got itself affiliated with Islamic State. Moreover, sitting in Britain, a fugitive sacked military officer named Md. Shahid Uddin Khan has formed a platform named ‘Astha’ (faith), through which he is trying to unseat the democratically elected government in Bangladesh and turn the country into a Caliphate. Md. Shahid Uddin Khan’s cohort M. Sajjad Hussain is coordinating the activities of ‘Astha’ in the United States. It is matter of grave surprise as to why the UK government is allowing Md. Shahid Uddin Khan in continuing jihadist activities using the British soil. In January

this year, Khan’s Dhaka residence was raided by the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC). During the raid, large volume of weapons, detonator, counterfeit Bangladesh currency notes and jihadist materials of ISIS were recovered by the CTTC unit.

“Following this recovery, three separate cases against ISIS-funder Md. Shahid Uddin Khan, his wife Farjana Anjum, daughters and other accomplices were lodged. The cases are: Cantonment PS, Case no 10, Section-6(2)/7/11/12 of Anti Terrorism Act 2009 (amendment 2013); Cantonment PS,  Case no 11, Section-25-A,  Special Power Act 1974; and Cantonment PS, Case no 12, Section-19-A of Arms Act 1878”.

Shoaib Choudhury further said, “On April 24, 2019, Md. Shahid Uddin Khan released two video messages through the social media calling upon the people of Bangladesh to get united against the government and establish Caliphate. Just days after the release of these video messages, Islamic State has released the poster, proving there clearly is connection between Shahid’s ‘Astha’ and ISIS”.

From various media reports, it is learnt that Md. Shahid Uddin Khan has been a patron and funder of ISIS for many years.

Md. Shahid Uddin Khan (Army No: BA002428, Course: 8-BMA, Commission Date: 10-06-1983), who along with his wife Farjana Anjum and daughters had smuggled out millions of dollars from Bangladesh and invested in various business ventures in United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom.

In 2009, he invested two million pounds in the United Kingdom in exchange of obtaining immigrant status under Visa Tier 1, vide VAF No. 511702. Later the family had laundered an unknown amount of money and brought that into the United Kingdom.

What experts say about possible ISIS attacks?

Commenting on the latest ISIS threat about jihadist attack in Bangladesh or West Bengal, intelligence sources say, in the past it has been seen that whenever ISIS or Al Qaeda issued such threats, there always had been jihadist attacks. Considering such past records, Bangladesh and India should take the threat very seriously. This time, ISIS may adopt multiple strategies – either there could be attacks on Hindu and Buddhist temples, where female suicide attackers may undertake the operations in disguise of devotees; or there could be attacks in crowded places, particularly shopping centers and malls. Bangladeshi security agencies should take extra security measures in a number of places such as cinema halls, crowded shopping centers such as Gawsia, Chandni Chawk, Mouchak etc., and special security measures should be ensured especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Britain reluctant in deporting ISIS funder Khan family:

Although sacked military officer Md. Shahid Uddin Khan, his wife Farjana Anjum and daughters Shehtaz Munashi Khan and Parisa Pinaz Khan are active members and funders of Islamic State (ISIS), British authorities are surprisingly showing reluctance in deporting this notorious family to Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the Khans have recruited a man named M. Sajjad Hussain, his wife Nahid Parvin Neeru and son Asif Hussain for carrying out activities of ‘Astha’ (faith), an ISIS prototype group in the United States. Khans have floated ‘Astha’ few months back with the ulterior agenda of establishing Caliphate in Bangladesh by ousting democratically elected government.

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