As investigators examine one possible Canadian connection to last week’s attack on a restaurant in Bangladesh’s capital, reports of another Canadian leading that country’s Islamic State affiliate have been brought into the spotlight.
A siege on Dhaka’ Holey Artisan Bakery Friday night ended with 20 innocent people dead, as well as five of the attackers. As the attack unfolded, the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility.
Bangladesh’s Daily Star reported last month a Bangladeshi-Canadian man named Tamim Chowdhury is leading a terror group that has aligned itself with ISIS. Going by the nom-de-guerre Sheikh Abu Ibrahim Al-Hanif, Chowdhury is reportedly from Windsor, Ont.
According to the University of Waterloo’s Amarnath Amarasingam, there’s not a lot more known about the man’s background or what role he might have played in the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery.
But, he thinks it’s “just a matter of time” before more of those details emerge.
In April, Chowdhury was featured in the propaganda magazine Dabiq. In the edition he noted Bangladesh was in a strategic location for the Islamic State’s growing network of affiliates, particularly to move into neighbouring Myanmar and to launch attacks on India.
Aside from Chowdhury, Amarasingam said there were about three other Bangladeshis he knows of, all from the Toronto area, who joined Islamic State ranks in Syria. Other than that, there “aren’t a whole lot of Bangladeshis who have become radicalized” in Canada that he knows of. “It’s not something specific to this community,” he said.
It’s not known if another Canadian reportedly detained and questioned in Bangladesh had anything to do with the execution of the attack or whether he was just an innocent hostage held captive during the 10-hour siege. The man was one of five former hostages detained after commandos ended the siege.
The pro-ISIS group Chowdhury is said to lead has been an active one, claiming responsibility for a series of recent attacks on secular and atheist bloggers, activists, journalists, academics and LGBTQ people, as well as attacks on Shiite mosques in the country.
The Bangladeshi government, however, is reluctant to admit the so-called Islamic State has a presence in the country.
The Daily Star newspaper on Monday said the bloody hostage crisis had left “the nation shattered and with a sense of extreme unease.” The editorial also criticized authorities’ consistent denial of the presence of any international terrorist groups, even as the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack and released gruesome photographs that apparently depicted the torture of hostages.
With files from The Associated Press