Terror attacks - Bangladesh, Middle East

ISIS warns: More attacks to come; Dhaka only the start

One of the alleged gunmen who carried out the Dhaka attact poses in front of a flag of the Islamic State jihadist group.
One of the alleged gunmen who carried out the Dhaka attact poses in front of a flag of the Islamic State jihadist group.PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA/DUBAI • The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has warned of repeated attacks in Bangladesh and beyond until rule by Islamic syariah law is established, saying in a video that last week's killing of 20 people - mainly foreigners - in a Dhaka cafe was merely a glimpse of what is to come.

"What you witnessed in Bangladesh... was a glimpse. This will repeat... until you lose and we win and the syariah is established throughout the world," said a man identified as Bangladeshi fighter Abu Issa al-Bengali in a video monitored by Site Intelligence Group, which tracks terrorist activity.

The ISIS video began with pictures of recent attacks in Paris, Brussels, and Orlando in the United States, that the Middle East-based militants have claimed. The fighter in the video, who spoke in both Bengali and English, said Bangladesh must know that it is now part of a bigger battlefield to establish the cross-border "caliphate" the group proclaimed in 2014.

"I want to tell the rulers of Bangladesh that the jihad you see today is not the same that you knew in the past," he said from a busy street in the militant group's de facto capital of Raqqa, in Syria. "The jihad that is waged today is a jihad under the shade of the caliphate."

Although Bangladesh has rejected ISIS' claim of responsibility for last Friday's attack, police said they were stepping up security in response to the video threat.

In Saudi Arabia, King Salman warned that his country would strike with an "iron hand" against people who preyed on youth vulnerable to religious extremism, a day after suicide bombers struck three cities in an apparently coordinated campaign of attacks.

In a speech marking Aidilfitri, the holiday that celebrates the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the King said a major challenge facing Saudi Arabia was preserving hope for youth who faced the risk of radicalisation.

"We will strike with an iron hand those who target the minds and thoughts... of our dear youth," King Salman, 80, said.

No group has claimed responsibility, but ISIS militants have carried out similar bombings in the US-allied, Sunni Muslim-ruled kingdom in the past year, targeting minority Shi'ites and Saudi security forces. ISIS has said the Saudi rulers are apostates and has declared its intention to topple them.

In Yemen, government forces supported by a Saudi-led coalition recaptured the army headquarters at Aden airport from suspected extremists after an hours-long firefight yesterday.

There was no immediate word on the fate of the officers who had been inside the building when it was seized by between 15 and 20 militants in the early hours. The militants had penetrated the base after detonating two car bombs that killed at least 10 soldiers.

It was the latest attack on security forces to hit the southern port city, where Yemen's government took refuge after rebels seized the capital Sanaa.

The recapture of the headquarters building came after troops exchanged rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire with the militants throughout the morning.

Separately, ISIS said yesterday that it had carried out a suicide bombing that killed 16 people in a mainly Kurdish city in north-eastern Syria. Tuesday evening's blast in Hasakeh took place outside a bakery where a large crowd had gathered as they prepared to break the last daytime fast of Ramadan.

The bomber infiltrated the Salihiah district, then blew up his explosives belt in the middle of the crowd, ISIS said in a statement on social media. Forty people were wounded, said a Kurdish official.

Meanwhile, the Syrian army said yesterday it was observing a 72-hour ceasefire across the country coinciding with Ramadan's end.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'ISIS warns: More attacks to come; Dhaka only the start'. Print Edition | Subscribe