Is Bangladesh the Next ISIS Hotspot?

Is Bangladesh the Next ISIS Hotspot?
Tue Jun 21, 2016 11:11:20

Bangladesh has a number of things going for it: its economy is growing, it's a democracy with a youthful population, and it's blessed with fertile lands.

It is also home to almost 150 million Muslims, and up until recently steered clear of the kind of radicalism that has plagued other parts of the world. But unfortunately there are ominous signs that this is changing.

For more than two years, a spate of brutal murders has rocked the South Asian nation. At first the killings had a clear pattern, targeting well-known secular writers in the capital, Dhaka. The attacks seemed designed to silence those who dared to criticize.

One of the most high-profile of these -- the murder of the Bangladeshi-American writer Avijit Roy in 2014 -- took place right outside Dhaka's annual book fair.

In recent weeks these attacks extended into the countryside, increased in frequency, and targeted everyone from university professors to a seemingly random selection of Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and even Sufi Muslims.

The death toll has now risen past 40.

One clear thread connecting the murders is the barbaric and medieval mode of attack: machetes.
But who is masterminding the killings?

So-called ISIS has claimed a number of the attacks through its media affiliates, but the Bangladesh government has consistently denied any ISIS presence in the country. Other attacks have been claimed by local extremist groups. Police have said that most of the suspected attackers were members of Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, or JMB -- a banned extremist group.

There's no clear consensus on the veracity of the claims, even amongst the region's top terror analysts, CNN reported.


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