Militant video and arrests put Bangladesh on alert

Bengali-speaking jihadists threaten to attack foreigners, religious minorities and politicians
Militant video and arrests put Bangladesh on alert

Protesters demand justice in Dhaka in February 2015 for the murder of Bangladeshi atheist blogger Avijit Roy by Islamic militants. A video and the arrest of suspected militants have sparked renewed concerns about militancy in the Muslim-majority nation. (Photo by Stephan Uttom/ucanews.com)

A video containing threats of imminent militant attacks against targets including foreigners has sparked renewed concern in Muslim-majority Bangladesh after a recent lethal rise in Islamic militancy.

Police are investigating the video of four jihadists covering their faces and speaking Bengali, the national language of Bangladesh, threatening to attack foreigners, religious minorities and politicians among others.

Amaq, the news agency of transnational jihadist outfit Islamic State (IS), posted the video online late on Aug. 9, according to SITE Intelligence, a U.S.-based group that monitors Islamic extremism online.

The men in the video pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of IS. Wearing suicide vests and carrying rifles, they threatened to attack members of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League, U.S. citizens, minority Hindus and Buddhists, government offices and police stations.

The video came a day after police in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka arrested five suspected militants from the regrouped local extremist outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

It also came just two days before people in Bangladesh were getting ready to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha, the second holiest feast in Islam.

Police said the arrested suspects were part of a “wolf pack” of the banned JMB, which has attacked atheist bloggers, writers, publishers, liberal academics, religious minorities and foreigners.

In the worst attack, five Islamic militants killed 20 people, mostly foreign guests, at a cafe in the diplomatic zone of Dhaka on July 1, 2016.

Police are on alert and examining the video to avert any possible militant activities, said Saiful Islam, deputy commissioner of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit of Bangladesh police.

“We have taken the video seriously, but we are also inspecting whether it is old or a new one, and where it was shot. We have successfully cracked down on militancy, and we are ready to avert any militant activity at any cost,” he told ucanews.com.

Security analysts pointed that the arrests and video might be signs of an IS attempt to regain ground in several countries after being defeated in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq in March.

On July 31, the United Nations Counter Terrorism Committee released a 24-page report that warned that IS could launch terrorist attacks in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Europe before the end of the year as it intends to “reinvest in the capacity to direct and facilitate complex international attacks.”

“IS has been defeated and driven out from their strongholds in Syria, so their soldiers have fled, spread out and many returned to their own countries. This is a danger for us,” M. Sakhawat Hossain, a Dhaka-based security analyst, told ucanews.com.

“You can eradicate militants by force but militant ideology takes a long time to rise and fall. Law enforcers must keep a keen eye constantly to tackle any possible re-emergence of militancy.”

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