Nine Italians, seven Japanese, and one Indian tourist were among the 20 hostages that were hacked to death with sharp weapons by 7 heavily-armed Islamist State terrorists. After an 11-hour standoff at an up market restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, on July 1, the jihadists, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’, carried out the massacre with high-powered automatic weapons, explosives and knives. It was on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan; inside the Holey Artisan Bakery, frequented by foreigners in the city’s diplomatic quarter.
15 hostages were rescued, 6 terrorists were shot dead, and 2 police officers were killed after the bloodbath ended Saturday morning. 26 people, including 25 police officers and a civilian, are being treated for injuries from gunshots and shrapnel; 10 of them are in critical condition, according to hospital authorities.
Survivors claimed the terrorists did not hit people who could recite verses from the Quran. Reazul Karim, father of Hasnat Karim, who was celebrating his daughter’s birthday with his family, told Bangladesh’s Daily Star:
“The gunmen had split the diners into two groups. The foreigners were taken to the upper floor and the Bangladeshis were kept around a table. They (gunmen) did not behave rough with the Bangladesh nationals. Rather they provided night meals for all Bangladeshis. The gunmen were doing a background check on religion by asking everyone to recite from the Quran. Those who could recite a verse or two were spared. The others were tortured.”
After announcing a two-day national mourning, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addressed the nation on national television:
“I want to ask those who are aiding terror, what do you get by taking innocent lives? Islam is a religion of peace, you are maligning its name. What kind of Muslims are these who kill others during Ramzan? Anyone who believes in religion cannot do such acts. They do not have any religion; their only religion is terrorism… People must resist these terrorists. My government is determined to root out terrorism and militancy from Bangladesh.”
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terror attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the jihadist activity online. The Amaq news agency, an information outlet linked to the Islamic State, also posted images of the carnage and hostages’ bodies on social media.
Is India Next?
In an interview with ISIS’ online magazine Dabiq in April, Shaykh Abu Ibrahim Al-Hanif, ‘Amir of Khilafah in Bangladesh’ accused Hindus of India and Bangladesh of waging war against Islam and the Muslims.
He also warned that the Islamic State was building a jihadist base in Bangladesh to facilitate the jihadists in launching guerrilla attacks inside India simultaneously – from both Pakistan and Bangladesh – to “create a condition of tawahhush (fear and chaos) in India, along with the help of the existing local mujaheddin there.”
“The Hindus of both Bengal and India have always been waging war against Islam and the Muslims. The only difference is that the Hindus in India show their animosity towards Islam and the Muslims openly, whereas the Hindus in Bengal do it in a more deceptive and covert manner due to them being a minority sect here.”
It may be possible that radical groups of Bangladesh led by the Jamaat-e-Islami, a terrorist organization, are behind the attacks. Terror is not new to the Muslim country; Islamic radicalism has been prevalent in the country in one form or the other ever since its independence in 1975.
ISIS is a sleeping partner of the South Asian terror network with similar radical ideology, which allows morphing of the threat from home grown Islamic militants. But if the ISIS involvement is genuine, then the war of the terror groups has entered the subcontinent and is definitely a warning sign.
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