The dreaded Islamic State terror group will attempt more sensational attacks on minorities and foreigners in Bangladesh to gain the support of local extremists in the Muslim-majority country as part of its global expansion plan, US-based intelligence assessment company Stratfor said in a report today.
In the latest edition of its magazine, Dabiq, the head of Islamic State operations in Bangladesh, Sheikh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, discussed the group's goals for Bangladesh.
Quoting al-Hanif, the report said, "Bangladesh is strategically important for several reasons as it provides a location from which to expand future operations into eastern India and Myanmar."
"The group has carried out some small attacks in Bangladesh, but it wants to conduct a large attack to boost its credentials among local jihadists and promote the interests of the larger organisation," the report said.
As has been the case elsewhere, however, established jihadist groups in Bangladesh pose a challenge to the Islamic State's ambitions, it said. In the interview that appeared in the April 13 edition of Dabiq, al-Hanif listed a range of potential targets, including some the group has already hit in Bangladesh: Christian missionaries, Hindu figures, Shiites and foreigners in general, according to the report.
"In a sign of things to come, he indicated that the group intends to also target the military and other radical Islamist groups," it said. Bangladeshi nationals and foreign extremists of Bangladeshi descent fighting in Iraq and Syria will provide the Islamic State with skilled bombmakers and operational planners in Bangladesh, it said.
However, it also said that more established jihadist groups in the country will fight back against the Islamic State's "power grab". The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the gruesome April 23 murder of English professor Rezaul Karim Siddique, who was hacked to death at a bus stop in northwest Bangladesh.
Since September 2015, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for eight attacks in Bangladesh. There have been systematic assaults in Bangladesh in recent months especially targeting minorities, secular bloggers, intellectuals and foreigners.
Last year, four prominent secular bloggers were killed with machetes, one inside his own home.
In February, a head priest was killed at a Hindu temple in an area bordering India, the first attack by the ISIS targeting the community.
Deccan Herald, April 27, 2016