How Syria- trained Tamim res­ur­rected ter­ror in B’desh

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Sh­weta De­sai

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.

— Reuters — Reuters cor­re­spon­dent@ dnain­dia. net

Se­cu­rity per­son­nel walk on a road lead­ing to the site of a gun­bat­tle with mil­i­tants near Dhaka on Satur­day

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