Another teacher murdered: Does IS exists in Bangladesh?

Shakhawat Hossain

Assailants hacked to death Rajshahi University English professor AFM Rezaul Karim Siddiquee on Saturday morning near his house in Rajshahi city, about 17 months after assailants had killed another teacher of the university near his house in Rajshahi.  With this, four Rajshahi University teachers were murdered in the last 12 years.
The other teachers who were killed are Professor Yunus Ali of economics, Professor S Taher of geology and mining and Professor AKM Shafiul Islam of sociology — all slain between 2004 and 2014. Besides, last year, assailants hacked to death at least four atheist bloggers and a secular publisher in a long-running series of targeted killings of secular activists.
ISIS takes credit
Police arrested members of a banned group called the Ansarullah Bangla Team over those murders, although none have yet been prosecuted. All the four men killed were on a list of 84 “atheist bloggers”. The list was drawn up by Islamic groups in 2013 and has been widely circulated. It was originally submitted to the government with the aim of having these bloggers arrested and tried.
Islamic State has purportedly claimed responsibility for the latest killing of RU teacher Siddiquee, SITE Intelligence Group says. SITE tweeted the claim citing IS’ Amaq News Agency hours after the English department professor was hacked to death. SITE says the terrorist group killed Siddiquee for “calling to atheism” in Bangladesh. IS reportedly claimed responsibilities for the killings of the two foreigners — Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella in Dhaka and Japanese national Kunio Hoshi in Rangpur. Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) has reportedly claimed the murder of bloggers.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police additional commissioner Monirul Islam on Sunday said the Islamic State claim has no authenticity and it has no organisational existence in Bangladesh. ‘Claiming responsibility of murders virtually is very easy as it does not require any evidence or verification,’ he said. ‘Rejecting the IS claim, Police arrested an Islami Chhatra Shibir leader early Sunday in connection with RU teacher killing.
It is to be note here that another outlawed group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) had earlier claimed the similar responsibility for the murders of several secular bloggers and publishers since 2013. Reportedly they are an affiliate of al-Qaeda’s regional offshoot known as AQIS and have ties to Dae’sh. They made the claims through Facebook and Twitter. Incidentally the latest killing took place just few days after Middle East-based militant outfit Islamic State’ had categorically claimed that ‘it has operation in Bangladesh.’’
The ground reality
Islamic State (IS) has made the claim in the latest issue of its own propaganda magazine called Dabiq which ran a lengthy interview of, as it claimed, the Amir of IS fighters in Bangladesh, Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif who has plans to launch attacks in India and Myanmar from its base in Bangladesh considering that the Muslims in the region, especially those in Myanmar, live under oppression from Buddhists and Hindus. The group also hopes to strengthen its jihad within Bangladesh before moving into Myanmar and India.
While the government doesn’t admit the existence of the Islamic State in Bangladesh, the ground reality is a bit different as reports say detectives in March last year said that the local militant groups were working  to establish a Shariah-based state by 2020 with the help of Dae’sh incorporating parts of India and Myanmar with it. A new umbrella named “International Lions Force of Hindustan” was also formed, they claimed.
It was also said that a four-member delegation of Dae’sh from Syria had earlier visited Chittagong in October 2014 and reportedly met top leaders of local militant groups. In September 2014, the chiefs of JMB, Ansarullah and Huji at a meeting inside the Kashimpur High Security Jail decided to work together to establish an Islamic state in Bangladesh. Since 2014, media reports said detectives have arrested over 20 Dae’sh recruiters and trainers in Dhaka and elsewhere.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, however, reaffirmed that the IS does not exist in Bangladesh:  “I want to clearly say that there is no base, organisational existence of IS in Bangladesh. Some individuals may have faith on them,” the minister told newsmen at his residence in Dhaka when they asked him about the published Dabiq magazine interview of the alleged IS Bangladesh chief Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif.
Information Minister Hasanul Huq Inu, however, told foreign newsmen in Dhaka on 15 April that “at least 8,000 Bangladeshi men were trained by Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and they returned home… There is an alliance between military autocratic forces, covert domestic terrorists, and the international terrorist networks in Bangladesh and we are fighting them.”
Playing hide and seek
In a latest move, Detective Branch of Police (DB) has reportedly re-launched investigations into the four cases filed against IS militants including its coordinator in Bangladesh.
So, now the big question is whether the border less Islamic State (IS) exists in Bangladesh or not when the ministers contradict themselves on the very sensitive issue urgently needed to be addressed. People are really curious about the existence of the IS on the soil of Bangladesh, but eventually get confused when two ministers contradict themselves about this sensitive issue.
Analysts believe that it is the government’s responsibility to unearth the truth as soon as possible before the divided nation. The security analysts also believe that the government has to prove that there is no IS existence in Bangladesh just after conducting an in-depth investigation, rather than denying the claims and the facts available on the ground.
The writer is a Dhaka-based freelance contributor

Source: Weekly Holiday

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