The Canadian Jihad Connection
Police officers are seen during a raid which saw Dhaka cafe attack 'mastermind' Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury and three other suspected militants killed at a militant hideout in Narayanganj, near Dhaka, Bangladesh on August 27, 2016. Police had named the Canadian-Bangladeshi, who led the 'New JMB', as the one who orchestrated the July-1 attack on the upscale Holey Artisan Bakery and O' Kitchen restaurant in Dhaka's diplomatic zone, killing 20 hostages, including 18 foreigners. (Suvra Kanti Das/Newzulu.com)
"People who knew him say he was a quiet guy. Not much else is known about him at the moment."
Professor Amarnath Amarasingam, post-doctoral fellow, Resilience Research Centre, Dalhousie University
"This is a significant progress for our counterterrorism drive because Tamim was responsible for collecting finances and later distributing them, recruiting and radicalizing members of elite families."
Monirul Islam, chief, Bangladesh counterterrorism unit
|Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury / Shaykh Abu Ibrahim Al-Hanif|
Over fifty terrorist attacks were carried out in Bangladesh by Islamist extremists over the past several years, as secular bloggers and publishers were being killed by assailants wielding machetes. Foreigners, gay rights activists and minority religious group members have met similar fates. A Hindu priest, Ananda Gopal Ganguly had been en route to his temple to conduct a prayer service, when three men on a motorcycle approached from behind and hacked him to death.
A young man whose parents arrived in Canada in 1970 as immigrants from Bangladesh and who himself became a naturalized Canadian citizen who graduated from the University of Windsor with a degree in chemistry in 2011, renamed himself from Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury (30 years of age), to the more suitable-for-his purposes Shaykh Abu Ibrahim Al-Hanif, leader of a new branch of terrorists in Bangladesh, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh.
Islamic State featured him in their propaganda publication Dabiq as being the "emir" of its Bangladesh branch. This would be the branch that the government of Bangladesh denies has any presence in the country, as an ISIL affiliate. But it seems that Islamic State has well infiltrated the country. And Al-Hanif referred to Hinduism as a "filthy, cow-worshipping religion" whose followers he was prepared to "slaughter" as long as they refused to convert to Islam; specifically his very brand.
Now, according to Bangladesh authorities, Chowdhury was involved as a guide with the attackers of the upscale, popular cafe that took place last month targeting foreigners in a terrorist assault. The jihadis were identified as scions of Bangladeshi wealthy, connected families. And the realization took place among authorities that young, well-educated Bangladeshi men from socially-connected and wealthy families were being recruited into Islamist jihad.
Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury is now being recognized as the leader of the terrorist group who had been responsible for recruiting those men, and who had given them safe haven, and who had plotted with them to embark on deadly attacks in Bangladesh. He will no longer be busy undermining peace and security in the country, however, although there is little doubt there will be someone eager enough to pick up where he left off.
He left off when the Bangladeshi counterterrorism unit launched an attack near Dhaka to confront the terrorists. When an exchange of gunfire ensued, Chowdhury was shot dead, killed by the special operations team. The police uncovered grenades, pistols and AK-22 assault rifles at the apartment where Chowdhury and his associates had been found. And they anticipate in days to come that more useful data will be uncovered to aid them in their determination to rid the country of jihadists.
Bangladeshi authorities understand they are facing an influx of Bangladeshi diaspora men committed to jihad, radicalized abroad and prepared to return home to Bangladesh to 'liberate' their home country through jihad. Britain and Canada each have a particularly large Bangladeshi diaspora; an estimated one thousand Bangladeshi Canadians live in Windsor alone. And according to the local imam: "The Bangladeshi community here condemns this, we hate this, and we don't like this."
Now, Dhaka authorities have no need to dispense the $25,000 reward they had announced for the capture of Chowdhury and another man, Syed Mohammad Ziaui Haque, who led the local militant group hacking to death bloggers and intellectuals in the country who deplored viciously militant Islam, since they have themselves dispatched that particular threat; unfortunately given the trajectory in Islam with the growing popularity of violent jihad, there will likely be more to come.