Days after Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed the responsibility for deadly terror attacks in Sri Lanks, a poster that reads “Coming soon” in Bengali has suddenly given rise to speculation that ISIS is ‘planning to strike’ either West Bengal or Bangladesh in near future.
Again, sounding an ominous warning of terrorist attacks in Bangladesh and India’s West Bengal, the Middle East-based militant outfit Islamic State (IS) has published a poster in Bengali saying, ‘Shigroi Aschhi Inshallah’ (God willing, coming soon). A pro-Islamic State telegram channel has published the poster.
Inteligence Agencies of the both countries are taking these posters seriously since ISIS has claimed responsibility of serial blasts in Sri Lanka. ISIS admitted to ‘managing’ these blasts with the support of a local outfit known as Tawheed Jamaat.
Released on the pro-Islamic State channel on ‘Telegram’ on April 25, intelligence agencies have confirmed the poster’s presence and that matter is under investigation. The poster, which reads “Shighroi Aschhe [coming soon], Inshallah…” includes the logo of Al-Mursalat group.
In the wake of a string of deadly bomb attacks in Sri Lanka that killed at least 359 people, intelligence agencies were also reportedly apprehending that Bangladesh may come under such terror attack. Home-grown militants having link with international terrorist outfits like IS may carry out Sri Lanka-like bomb attacks in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.
The calm of Easter Sunday was shattered by gruesome bombings that killed at least 250 people in Sri Lankan churches and hotels. Four days after the coordinated attacks, the Sri Lankan Health Ministry revised the death toll, saying 253 people had died. That toll is significantly lower than the 359 initially reported to CNN by a Colombo police spokesman this week. The health ministry cited the condition of remains and the difficulty in identifying them for the discrepancy.
Meanwhile, The Times of India and India Today have also reported that several sources in Indian intelligence agencies have confirmed the publication of such a poster. According to the Indian news site Northeast Now, Bangladesh and Indian intelligence have been duly alerted about a pro-Islamic State telegram in Bengali doing the rounds on the Internet that promises militant action soon.
ISIS already has a strong presence in Bangladesh. A section of the local Bangladesh terrorist group Jamatul Mujahideen (New-JMB) is affiliated with ISIS Central. JMB operatives are notorious for recruiting and creating hideouts in West Bengal and neighbouring states. Three years ago, JMB sleeper cells had erected recruitment posters urging the youth to join the terrorist organization across various districts of West Bengal.
Ariful Islam, a JMB terrorist, is one of the main accomplices of the 2018 Bodh Gaya blast. He was arrested from the Babughat area in Kolkata this February. An official has confirmed that JMB had indeed set up a module in Assam earlier. The arrested operative had revealed crucial details such as their training ground was operative in Chirang area of Lower Assam district.
An ISIS-JMB terrorist Mohammed Musiruddin a.k.a Musa who was arrested by West Bengal CID was further interrogated by the FBI last July. During the interrogation, he had revealed about his hideout in Tirupur district of Tamil Nadu and his links with Amjad Sheikh. Amjad Sheikh, also a member of JMB was arrested for 2014 Khagragarh twin blast case.
PM Hasina warns of ongoing terror threats in Bangladesh
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also warned that terror attacks are being plotted in Bangladesh and urged citizens to remain alert to the threat. She was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the non-stop inter-city train service ‘Banalata Express’ on the Dhaka-Rajshahi route via video conference at Ganabhaban on the same day on April 25. The prime minister made the remarks in the context of the suicide bomb attacks at several churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
“Today, militancy isn’t just a problem in Bangladesh but has become a global issue. We’ve lost a few Bangladeshis in the incident in Sri Lanka a few days ago,” said Hasina.
“Plenty of efforts are being made to carry out such attacks in Bangladesh. But our intelligence and law enforcement agencies are alert to it.”
Hasina added, “I urge the people of the country to also stay alert and help identify those who are involved or engaging in militant activities by immediately informing the law enforcement forces about it.”
She also called upon the people of the country, particularly guardians, teachers, public representatives, imams of mosques, and clerics of different religions to collectively stand against any suspicious militant activities in their respective localities.
No apprehension of terrorist attacks in country, claims CTTC
Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit Chief Monirul Islam has, however ruled out the possibility of any such militant attacks in Bangladesh as saying ‘There is no possibility of terrorist attacks in the country although Bangladesh is among the countries of the world at risk of threat.”
Addressing a press conference at his office in the capital on April 27, Monirul said, “We got information through intelligence agencies that terrorist groups of our country have become revengeful after deadly attacks on mosques attacks in New Zealand.”
“But it will require more time for them (terrorist groups) to collect explosives for staging big attacks in the country,” Monirul added.
The CTTC unit chief also said, “We already foiled their organisational capacities accomplishing various successful operations.”
He also assured that at present they have no organisational capacity, vigour and logistics to stage any attack.
But, DMP instructs religious institutions, hotels to rnsure high security
But, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has instructed the authorities of all key point installations (KPI), including residential hotels and reli-gious institutions, to beef up their security. The DMP came up with the instruction on Sunday—the first day of “mass campaign week”.
Police will observe the week till May 4 to create awareness among people against militancy and terrorism, said DMP officials.
According to sources, police took the initiative of organising the “mass campaign awareness week” in the wake of terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.
Speaking to The Daily Star, DMP’s Deputy Commissioner Masudur Rahman said, “It is not possible for police alone to deal with militancy, so we have taken the initiative to observe the mass campaign week to create awareness among people.”
On the first day of the week, a high official meeting was held at the DMP headquarters under the presidency of its commissioner Asaduz-zaman Miah, which was attended by the deputy commissioners of dif-ferent zones, detective branches and counterterrorism.
A high official of the DMP, present in the closed-door meeting, told The Daily Star that they discussed the increase of security at national mosques, churches and temples along with covering major areas with the use of Close Circuit Television Camera (CCTV) surveillance.
“We also asked to bring the cinema halls, theatres, five star residential hotels and airports under tougher surveillance,” the official said, re-questing anonymity.
Although, the KPI remains under tough security vigil, the officials have still instructed keeping a close eye on them, the official added.
Police already prepared a roster for bomb disposal units and first-response teams so that they can deal with any kind of situation at any time, sources in the meeting said.
Police further instructed bit-police officials to hold regular meetings in the community, especially in English medium schools, colleges, uni-versities and madrasas.
They were also asked to update the tenant databases after visiting dif-ferent houses randomly, sources added.
Following the meeting, all DMP crime divisions and the detective branch set up two-hour long check posts at all major points of the capital from 2:00pm to 4:00pm on Sunday.
“We will also conduct block raids and special drives as part of the check posts during the mass awareness week,” said a deputy com-missioner of DMP crime division.
Police also held a meeting with the owners of residential hotels and religious institutions in different areas of the capital.
In the meeting with hotel owners, police officials asked them to check every guest through metal detectors and archways very carefully. They were also asked to check every hotel staff members’ identity cards and addresses and were advised to take police help if needed, DMP officials said.
During the meeting with religious institutions’ authorities, police asked them to install security instruments at every entry point and check eve-ry devotee before entry, they added.
Earlier on April 24, Inspector General of Police Mohammad Javed Patwary directed all units of police to beef up security and intelligence surveillance to prevent any untoward incident ahead of the upcoming May Day, Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr. Javed came up with the directive in a meeting through a video confer-ence with the chiefs of all police units and police high officials at the Police Headquarters.
2 killed amid blasts in Bosila ‘militant den’ raid amidst mass campaign week
On the second day of “mass campaign week”, which was launched on Sunday, two persons have been confirmed killed inside the suspected militant den in Bosila amid blasts and gunfire exchange during a crackdown.
Rapid Action Battalion’s (Rab) Director General Benazir Ahmed confirmed reporters of the toll while visiting the spot in Mohammadpur on Monday morning.
“The bodies have been blown apart in the explosions. We will have to identify them through DNA profiling,” Rab’s chief Benazir told reporters.
Last reported, the tin-shed single-storied house in Metro Housing Limited caught fire while bomb disposal was sweeping the area. Rab had evacuated nearby residents in the wee hours, and, until now, were keeping the area under a tight security cordon.
How the incident unfolded
The suspected militant hideout in Bosila, at the edge of Dhaka city, is located in the middle of a cluster of single-storied tin-shed houses.
Rab cordoned off one of the houses around 2:45am on information that it is a hideout of top terror outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
They called out the caretaker of the house, Sohag, and his wife and knocked on the door of “the militants”. They were met with several gunshots from inside.
After Rab retreated with reply fire, several explosions were set off around 3:30am. One big explosion was set off around 4:45am that shook the area.
Rab’s Additional Director General Col Jahangir Alam told the reporter on the spot, the blast blew apart the roof of the tin-shed building. The house has been quiet since the blast.
Four persons, including house-owner Wahab, the caretaker, his wife and the Imam of a nearby mosque, have been detained for questioning. Owner Wahab told lawmen, two people identified themselves as van-pullers and rented the house a few months ago. They were supposed to leave this month.
IS claims responsibility for cocktail attack on Dhaka police
On the otherhand, militant activity watchdog SITE Intelligence Group has said that the Middle East based militant outfit Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the cocktail bomb attack on police in Dhaka.
The attack took place at around 8:30pm on Monday in front of a shopping complex on the south side of Gulistan underpass. Two traffic policemen and one Ansar member were injured in the blast.
“I know about the matter. It is being investigated whether the attack was carried out by the IS or not. Investigation is being carried out by keeping everything under consideration,” Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Shibli Noman told the reporter when asked about the matter.
The police have filed a case against some unidentified people in the Gulistan attack, said Noman.
SITE Intelligence had previously informed about IS’s claim of responsibility of the 2016 terrorist attack on Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan, according to a bdnews24 report.
(Shakhawat Hossain is Dhaka-based freelance Journalist and Political Commentator)