Islamic State may target Assam, says junior home minister

Questions are not only being asked about the overall security situation but also regarding coordination among intelligence agencies.

Union Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary has expressed concerns that Middle-East-based militant groups like the Islamic State might target Assam.

Indian security agencies see as significant the arrests of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) cadres in Assam in the aftermath of a blast in West Bengal’s Burdwan district in 2014.

In subsequent months, a new ‘Jihadi’ group, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, which follows the JMB’s module, has emerged in Assam and 30 of their militants have been arrested so far.

Rajya Sabha (upper house) MP from Odisha, Ranjib Biswal asked if “the IS carried out more than 10 militant attacks last year in Bangladesh?”

The MP also asked whether this militant group could also mount attacks on Assam and West Bengal.

In his reply, Union Minister of State for Home Chaudhary said that there was a strong possibility of the Islamic State attacking the two bordering Indian States.

The Indian Minister also clarified that the Bangladesh government had denied the role of the IS in the recent attack on bloggers and foreigners in Bangladesh. However, he added that the IS’s presence there could not be entirely ruled out.

Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, the self-styled chief of IS fighters in Bangladesh, has claimed in an interview published in its propaganda magazine, Dabiq, responsibility for several attacks in Bangladesh, including the murders of foreigners.

Hanif said in the interview that IS had chosen Bangladesh as its base in South Asia because of the country’s ‘important strategic geographic position’ from where attacks in India and Myanmar would be coordinated.

The Union minister conceded that JMB militants had entered the Indian states next to Bangladesh to spread their network.

The Burdwan blast, he said, had unearthed several facets of the JMB.

Besides West Bengal, the militant group has tried to build its networks in Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Tamil Nadu.

A senior BSF officer handling security along the India-Bangladesh border said border checking had been tightened to prevent unauthorised entry.

However, officers engaged in drawing up security strategies stressed the country’s intelligence agencies should coordinate their work to deal with the ‘Jihadi’ threat.

Source: Bangladesh’s First Internet Newspaper