Dhaka – Bangladesh’s police chief has refuted claims of Islamic State militant’s presence in Bangladesh saying that home-grown extremists might have virtual links with the international terrorist outfit.
“None of the militants arrested had claimed that they were IS. Some of them were killed, their relatives did not say that they were IS. Everyone talked about JMB,” Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque told reporters on Monday, second day of an international conference of the police chief in Dhaka.
The IGP’s comment came following an international security expert, Rohan Gunaratna, said that the last year’s attack on Holey Artisan Bakery in Gilshan was carried out by the Islamic State militants. The July 1, 2016 café attack left 20 civilians, mostly foreign nationals, two security officers and six suspected militants killed.
The IGP termed those claims as propaganda – “baseless propaganda”. He said the IS did not mention anything after the deaths of many suspected militants in Bangladesh.
According to US-based monitoring group SITE Intelligence, the Islamic State militants group carried out the café attack. Bangladesh turned down the claims at that time saying that the attacks were carried out by the home-grown militants.
“What we call militants are actually homegrown who might have been embodied with IS philosophy and ideology. But they don’t have any link with the IS,” Hoque said.
He added that none of the militants left the country for IS training, But they might have virtual communications with the international groups. There might be networks through social media. That was their own.
The IGP turns down Gunaratna’s claim saying that he was neither a police officer nor a military officer.
“He does not deal with any security issue. He is an academician, a professor of a university. He has done his academic research on his own. But he does not have experience of the real issue of Bangladesh,” Hoque added.
“We don’t endorse his statement,” the IGP said about Gunaratna’s remarks.
The South Asian nation experienced a wave of attacks, mostly by machete-wielding militants, on secularist bloggers, academics, rights activists, foreign nationals, priest, people from the minority faiths in 2015 and 2016. Most of the attacks were claimed by IS or al-Qaeda affiliates in Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi security forces launched anti-militant raids after the deadliest café attack in Dhaka’s Gulshan diplomatic enclave on July 1, 2016. They killed more than 40 suspected militants in the last seven months and arrested a number of suspects to face trial.