Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque yesterday dismissed an international security expert's statement that Islamic State carried out the July 1 Gulshan attack last year.
The expert, Prof Rohan Gunaratna, lacks “experience in real issues” about Bangladesh, the country's top police official said at a press briefing in Dhaka on the second day of an international conference organised by Interpol and Bangladesh Police.
“Rohan is neither a police officer nor a military officer. He doesn't deal with any security issues. He is an academician … He has done academic research on his own,” the IGP said in response to a question.
On the first day of the conference, Rohan, head of International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, said the IS, not Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), was responsible for the Holey Artisan terror attack in Dhaka city's Gulshan.
The Bangladeshi political leadership didn't tell the truth that the group, which is operating here, is global terror outfit IS, he pointed out.
Rohan has interviewed terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Saudi Arabia and other conflict zones. He has so far written 17 books, including Global Jihad Movement and Inside Al Qaeda.
Yesterday, the IGP said, “Many members of the [militant] group have been arrested and are now in our custody. Not a single one of them claimed to be a member of the IS… They rather said they were followers of the JMB.”
Even the slain militants' families didn't say the dead were IS members, he said.
Following the July 1 incident, many militants were killed in raids by law enforcers. But the IS, which claimed credit for the Gulshan attack, didn't say that the slain militants were its members, the IGP mentioned.
But after Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury was killed in a police raid on a Narayanganj hideout on August 27, IS propaganda magazine “Rumiyah” identified him as “Former Head of Military and Covert Operations of the Soldiers of the Khilafah in Bengal”.
The magazine also ran an article by Tamim, whom police described as neo-JMB chief coordinator and mastermind of the Gulshan attack, under the name of Abu Dujanah al-Bengali.
The IGP, however, said, “In the virtual world, they [the militants] may be in their [IS] network … on Facebook, on the social media.”
Terming the claims of IS presence in the country “baseless propaganda”, he said, “None of them [arrested militants] have received training from the IS outside the country.”
“We say they are homegrown militants who might have been inspired by IS philosophy. But they don't have any links with the IS. We didn't find any evidence.
“What Mr Rohan said is his own statement. We don't endorse his statement,” he added.
Top police officials from 14 South Asian and other countries are taking part in the three-day event titled “Chiefs of Police Conference on Regional Cooperation in Curbing Violent Extremism and Transnational Crime”.