On 1 July 2016, Islamic militants killed 22 people, including nine Italians, at the Holey Artisan Bakery café. Seven terrorists have been sentenced to death. Bangladesh’s counterterrorism police have conducted 395 raids, arresting 1,065 jihadis and killing 25. Radical groups are using social media to recruit young people and university students.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Four years to the day after the terrorist attack against the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka, Bangladeshi authorities do not fear any new attack by Islamic extremists.
According to Monirul Islam, Chief of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC), some militants have tried to exploit the coronavirus crisis to reorganise themselves, but security forces have thwarted their plans.
On 1 July 2016, members of a radical terror group, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, killed 22 people, including nine Italians.
On 27 November, a special court in the capital sentenced seven defendants to death. The appeal process is still ongoing.
In the past four years, the Bangladeshi government has carried out a campaign against radical Islamist groups. Its goal is to restore trust among foreign investors.
Following the attack, many of them left the country for fear of further terrorist actions; this has seriously damaged the thriving local garment industry.
So far, the anti-terrorist force has conducted 395 raids and arrested 1,065 militants, killing 25.
As a result, extremists, some operating from abroad, have moved their activities online, trying to recruit potential militants via social media like Telegram, Hop Fastpass and TamTam Messenger.
Their appeal includes denigrating democratic systems, highlighting the weakness of Bangladeshi authorities and accusing Europe and the United States of persecuting Muslims.
Radical Islamic preachers have found fertile ground in madrassas and elsewhere. Law enforcement have recently uncovered a network of university students belonging to jihadi groups.
Five students attending the Bangladesh Agricultural University have been arrested. Another eight, including some engineering students, were arrested before leaving for Saudi Arabia.
For Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of international relations at Dhaka University, the pandemic crisis shows once again that militants have their own mindset and nothing will distract them from their objectives.