DHAKA–The move by Bangladesh police follows a recent ‘Islamic State’ video that went viral on social media and warned the government of repeated attacks in the country and beyond until the rule by sharia, or Islamic law, is established. It said last week’s killing of 20 people in a Dhaka cafe was merely a glimpse of what is to come.

Bangladesh police have cautioned people against promoting a recent video by the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) that warns the government of more attacks in the country and across the world until shariah is established globally.

Candles lit for Dhaka terror victims
Candles lit up at a memorial service in Kolkata organized to condemn Dhaka cafe attack

In the video, three people claiming to be members of the IS praised last week’s killing of 20 people in a Dhaka cafe.

A few hours after the video went viral on social media Wednesday, a press release from the Bangladesh police stated that any video, photo, message, share, or comment supporting IS or other groups of terrorists on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was a punishable offence.

The release, signed by Deputy Inspector General AKM Shahidur Rahman of police HQ’s Media and Planning Department, called on people to refrain from such activities and warned that the strictest of measures will be taken against anyone indulging in such practices, under the prevailing law.

Local media have confirmed the identities of two of the three members seen in the video. They say one of them is Tahmid Rahman Safi, a former employee of a renowned mobile operator in Bangladesh, and son of a former high-level government official.

Rahman was also one of the top 20 contestants in a 2006 reality show modeled after ‘American Idol.’

“I remember meeting him last in 2010 when he was leaving the [telecommunication] company,” said a former colleague of Rahman. “He was working in the marketing department. He was a mild-mannered person and had shared that he would like to go for higher studies.”

A fellow contestant of the reality show said, “Rahman was one of the nicest guys I had met.”

“I lost all contact with him from 2013,” she added.

Other friends of Rahman confirmed he went missing around 2013.

The second person in the video has been identified by local media as Towsif Hasan, a student from the Institute of Business Administration under the Dhaka University.

Hasan’s last Facebook activity was in February 2014. Friends on his list said he went off the radar since then.

Both Rahman and Hasan are from well-off and liberal families like the five attackers of Dhaka cafe.

The parents of some of the Dhaka café attackers have already gone on record apologizing for the activities of their children while also sharing that their children had gone missing.

A statement of apology was released on July 6 by Nazrul Islam and Laila Bilkis, parents of Nibras Islam, one of the five attackers.

The statement said: “… Our son Nibras was an honest, meek and gentle boy. His Uttara friends will also echo our claim. He used to study at North South University from where he went to Monash University, Malaysia, for higher studies. In October, 2015, he returned home and the next year he went missing since February 3. He left a note during the departure in which he sought our blessings in line with assuring us of returning home.

“We were concerned over his disappearance. We had informed it to our intelligence unit as well. Our five-month frantic efforts to find Nibras ended in vain. Even we requested him many times to return home, but all efforts failed to gain any result. On July 2, we noticed that he had been involved in the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery, Gulshan.

“… We believe that the enforcement agencies will bring those under book for misguiding youths like Nibras…”

After the café attack, Dhaka has beefed up security in the diplomatic zones, hotels, malls and places of public gathering.

Deputy police inspector general Shahidur Rahman said, “We are taking this issue seriously. All our units concerned are working tirelessly.”

Prior to the Dhaka café attack, Bangladesh has been reeling from a spate of murders — claimed by IS or Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent — of members from minority groups, bloggers, and law enforcing officials.

Earlier, Bangladesh police said homegrown and banned militant outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) was acting as a local chapter for IS. After the attack, the government hinted that the outfit is now organizing a group of educated young men to carry out such attacks.

H.T. Imam, adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said to ANI on the possible IS role in the café attack: “Let it be probed. Deep probing and analysis is necessary, it could be either.”

Syed Tashfin Chowdhury is a Dhaka-based freelance journalist and editor of  Xtra, the weekend magazine of New Age, a leading English daily in Bangladesh.

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