Threats of jihadist attacks in Indo-Bangladesh, Indian intel at dark

Anita Mathur

Despite threats of jihadist attacks on Bangladesh and West Bengal in India, which was issued by Islamic State (ISIS) few days back, Indian intelligence agencies are still lacking any specific clues or ideas about such terrorist attacks. The only clue Indian intelligence has is the report published in Blitz on May 1, 2019 regarding the risk of jihadist attacks during Buddha Purnima, which again came to the attention of India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) ten days after its publication. Meanwhile Bangladeshi authorities are taking action to stop potential militant attacks in the country and in neighboring India after receiving intelligence information from New Delhi, the Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said early this week. He said, Bangladesh’s border guard is on alert to be vigilant against any cross-border attack by the banned militant outfit Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

Bangladesh tightens travel passes

In addition to maintaining vigilance at the border, Khan said authorities were checking on foreign nationals with ties to Bangladesh who were trying to return from Iraq and Syria. Travel passes and permit issued by the Bangladesh mission in a foreign country are legal documents that permit a Bangladeshi to return.

“We have got the information that the militants ousted from Iraq and Syria have no Bangladeshi passports. So they report to the Bangladesh embassies in the Middle East and lie that their passports went missing,” he said.

“They then ask for travel passes to come to Bangladesh,” he said pointing out that a Saudi-born Bangladeshi militant arrived in Bangladesh using a travel pass and was arrested.

“We have instructed all airports and land ports to be alert about people using travel passes. They will first be detained at the airport, questioned and arrested if we see anything suspicious,” Khan said.

The home ministry sent a letter to the foreign ministry on May 16 asking it to stop direct issuance of travel permits at overseas embassies because of an increase in international militancy.

“Against this backdrop, Bangladesh’s internal security may be under threat if the nationalities of the returnees are not verified before issuing travel permits,” the letter states. “The militants taking part in wars and unwanted people may enter Bangladesh concealing their identities.”

Threats from Islamic State

In April, IS-linked Al Mursalat Media released an electronic image in Bengali, English and Hindi on Telegram pages that threatened attacks.

A caption with the image stated: “Do you ever think that the anger of the mujahideen will suddenly bring destruction upon you? Then wait for that day … coming soon insha’Allah (Allah willing).”

Along with the threat, a group affiliated with IS had named someone identified as Abu Muhammed al-Bengali as the new emir of the “Bengal” province, according to an Indian National Investigation Agency officer who requested anonymity.

Meanwhile, a source with the Special Task Force of Kolkata Police said it had arrested “some JMB operatives from different parts of West Bengal in the last few months.”

Indian intelligence establishment at dark

Indian media are publishing reports quoting intelligence agency sources saying Bangladesh-based jihadist outfit Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) could carry out attacks on Bangladeshi soil, some parts of the Indian state of West Bengal, as well as northeastern states bordering Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Counter-militancy experts in Blitz, commenting on Indian intelligence agency’s report said, they (Indians) are still at dark about the potential threats. While they are anticipating attacks by Bangladesh-based JMB, the reality is totally different.

Our experts said, in recent years, jihadist outfit Hizbul Mujahedin (HM) has intensified activities within the northeastern states in India. This group also has joined hands with separatist groups in the Indian northeastern states, including United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), which is led by Paresh Baruah. Jointly they are plotting some terrorist attacks in the northeast and West Bengal. Moreover, some of the leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat e Islami (JeI) are trying to provide fund and logistics to Hizbul Mujahedin as well as Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) with the ulterior desire of destabilizing law and order situation.

They said, following the fall of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS would now re-emerge in South Asian nations with the help of local jihadist groups as well as political parties.

It’s a huge conspiracy of establishing reign of terror

Internationally acclaimed anti-militancy journalist and editor of Blitz, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury said, “It will be unwise to think Islamic State is coming to South Asia. Instead we have to endorse the fact – ISIS already has established its footprint in South Asia years back by forming alliance with local jihadist groups. In Bangladesh, Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh and Hizbut Tahrir clearly are inclined towards ISIS as they support Caliphatehood. At the same time, politically marginalized Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat e Islami would most definitely look for giving assistance and funding to the jihadist outfits as that might be one of the ways of putting Bangladesh government under international pressure. So, it’s not the case of any jihadist attacks during Buddha Purnima or any particular occasion. Instead it’s a threat found an unspecified period and timing. Our intelligence agencies need to remain vigil on this matter and should not exclusively depend on intel feedback from Indian side as they (Indian side) clearly are lagging far behind in gathering specific information on any possible threat posed by the jihadist groups for many reasons”.

He said, “Indian intelligence agencies have extensive penetration within the Afghan Talibans and jihadists forces in that country. So definitely they can gather crucial intel feedback from the Talibans. But in the case of threats posed by ISIS, Indian intelligence may not be that much capable of getting the required information. Recently, prior to the Easter Sunday attack, Indian intelligences alerted Sri Lanka on the possible terrorist attack, which was again based on an intel feedback that Delhi had received from one of the top intelligence agencies in the world. So anyone should not think, Indian intelligence agencies are well-informed about the possible jihadist threats posed by Islamic State. Bangladesh must depend on its own sources and in case of necessity should increase its information gathering sources to effectively combat the jihadist threat”.

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