How Syria- trained Tamim resurrected terror in B’desh
Dhaka: Bangladesh security forces killed three Islamist militants on Saturday, including a Bangladesh- born Canadian citizen accused of masterminding an attack on a cafe in Dhaka last month that killed 22 people, mostly foreigners, police said.
The militants were cornered in a hideout on the outskirts of the capital and, having refused to surrender, were killed in the ensuing gunbattle, Monirul Islam, the head of the Dhaka police counterterrorism unit, said. He initially said four militants had been killed but later revised the number to three.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to visit on Monday to discuss security after a series of killings targeting liberals and religious minorities in the mostly Muslim country.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the assault on the cafe in a posh neighbourhood where militants singled out non- Mus- lims and foreigners, killing Italians, Japanese, an American and an Indian.
The government has consistently denied the presence in the country of any transnational militant organisation such as al Qaeda or Islamic State. But police believe that Jamaat- ul- Mujahideen Bangladesh, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, was involved in organising the cafe attack.
The scale of that attack and the targeting of foreigners has cast a shadow over foreign investment in the poor South Asian economy, whose $ 28 billion garments export industry is the world's second largest.
"This operation definitely will uphold confidence and the image of Bangladesh," said Bangladesh's prime minister Sheikh Hasina. She told a news conference: "With this killing ( Tamim) one curse has been removed from our shoulders."
The suspected mastermind killed in Saturday's raid was identified as Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, a 30- year- old Canadian citizen born in Bangladesh. Analysts say Islamic State in April identified Chowdhury as its national commander. "According to our evidence we are now sure that Tamim was among the three killed," Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters. "So the chapter of Tamim has ended here."
Khan said Chowdhury was one of the main suppliers of funds and arms for several recent attacks. He had returned to Bangladesh in October 2013 via Abu Dhabi, A K M. Shahidul Hoque, the inspector general of police, said. The raid followed a tip off from the landlord of the house where the militants were staying, Hoque told reporters. The landlord said the militants had described themselves as businessmen. New Delhi: The man responsible for the bloodiest Ramzan in Bangladesh this year — the emir ( chief) of Islamic State in Bangladesh and master planner of Dhaka attack — Tamim Chowdhury, was killed along with two other associates in an early morning raid by the Dhaka police on Saturday. The operation is considered as a major success for Bangladesh security and intelligence forces which have managed to clamp down on the violence unleashed by Islamist extremists in less than a year since the series of deadly attacks first began.
Tamim and his associates had taken shelter in a residential building in Narayangung, on the outskirts of Dhaka, where they were living as tenants. Acting on intelligence gathered over weeks, a team of over 100 policemen including from SWAT, Counter Terrorism Unit descended around 6.00am to cordon off the area surrounding the house. Before conducting the raid, public announcements were made calling the suspected terrorists to surrender. `` We wanted to catch them alive and made all the efforts to make sure they surrender. Instead they attacked us with grenades and fired some shots. In the ensuing encounter, the three were killed,’’ Bangladesh police Assistant Inspector General ( Confidential) Md Moniruzzaman told dna.
Half a dozen live grenades, an Indian made .32 pistol, a rifle, knife and few documents were recovered from the house. Most of the other belongings including clothes, papers and laptops were put on fire. While there were no black flags or documents in the name of Islamic State, a paper with information on the recent killing of a Hindu priest in Narsingdi district. On Wednesday, the IS related media Amaq agency attributed the killing to ‘ fighters belonging to the Islamic State.’ This was the first attack claimed by IS following the Holey café attack in Gulshan area of Dhaka on July 1.
Born in Sylhet, Tamim was a Bangladeshi national who resided in Ontario, Canada for more than a decade. Police officials confirmed that he had visited Syria before he came back to Bangladesh via Abu Dhabi in October 2013. Once he returned home, Tamim started organis- ing cadres of Jamatul Mujaheedin Bangladesh ( JMB) a banned local terror group in the name of IS.
Tamim’s training in Syria played a big role in organising IS presence in Bangladesh with the help of a local affiliate of JMB. Accounts of IS returned fighters now detained in Europe suggests that a secret intelligence division of IS called Emni, sent its trained operatives as foot soldiers to various countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh in Asia. These operatives were given responsibility to build an infrastructure and plan for attacks in the name of IS.
Tamim is believed to be one such operative by the senior IS leaders. Under the Arabic kunya Sheikh Abu Ibrahim al Hanafi, he was introduced this April in the group’s official mouthpiece Dabiq as the emir ( chief leader) of soldiers of Khilafah in Bengal. Hanafi aka Tamim vowed to impose IS’s version of puritanical Islam in Bangladesh and use the front as a launchpad for jihadi operations in India and Burma.
Tamim was able to infuse fresh energy in the existing jihadi network of JMB forced underground since it was banned by the government in 2005. He was able to regroup JMB cadres in a module under the name of IS, as both these groups share similar Islamist extremist ideology: of bringing Bangladesh under governance of shariah and not secular democracy. Tamim did so with his innovative strategies: hunting for educated youth from rich and financially well background through social media. “He was the brain behind recruiting rich and young students as he believed that the old strategy of seeking recruits from madrassas was not good enough,’’ Moniruzzaman said.
He gave more importance on IT specialists, students from universities, people from higher society and incited them to act in the name of IS. With an aggressive propaganda on social media through channels and pages on Telegram, Twitter and Facebook, Tamim was able to reach out to a number of such youth.
The IS- JMB module would operate from rented houses many of them around the capital city of Dhaka where they were given motivational and ideological training. Physical training in how to operate arms and make killings with knives and machetes saw the recruits being taken to isolated locations for the drills.
Security personnel walk on a road leading to the site of a gunbattle with militants near Dhaka on Saturday