Government disputes ISIS's claim of responsibility for terror attack in Bangladesh restaurant

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Policemen stand guard along a road leading to the Holey Artisan Bakery and the O'Kitchen Restaurant after gunmen attacked, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 3, 2016. | REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

DHAKA, Bangladesh (Christian Examiner) – The government of Bangladesh is rejecting the claim that the Islamic State (ISIS) carried out the devastating terror attack that killed 22 people – including an American – in the capital city on Friday.

Police say the seven terrorists who stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery, a restaurant that caters to westerners in the upscale diplomatic district, belonged to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, a relatively new terror group that may have been responsible for several other acts of terror in recent years. Police said there is no proven link between the group and ISIS.

The connection, however, is indisputable.

All of the attackers, which attempted to force the victims to recite the Quran, were reportedly under the age of 22 and from well-known families. Prior to the attack, the men were photographed in front of the black flag of the Islamic State which contains the Shahada or Muslim confession, "There is no god but god [Allah] and Muhammad is his messenger."

ISIS released the photographs immediately after the attack and later its media arm, the Amaq News Agency, also released a statement claiming it was behind the attack. It also posted a series of graphic photos from inside the restaurant where 20 tourists and locals, two police officers and six of the gunmen died.

The ISIS statement warned citizens of "crusader countries" in the West that their citizens would not be safe abroad "as long as their aircraft are killing Muslims."

This is also not the first time the police have dealt with the Islamic State in Bangladesh. In 2015, an ISIS operative was captured in Dhaka. Police said the man arrested, Abdullah Al Ghalib, was a recruiter for ISIS and a military trainer for the terror group.

ISIS is only one terror group operating in the country. In other incidents, secularist bloggers and members of the Christian minority have been murdered by al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) or other terrorists who have never stepped forward with a claim of responsibility.

Ironically, ISIS is losing territory, but it is expanding its reach. In addition to the truck bomb detonated in Baghdad, Iraq, on Sunday, killing more than 150, the group has also claimed responsibility for an attack on army troops in the Philippines that claimed 23 lives earlier this year.