Last Saturday’s brutal terrorist attack in Dhaka on foreigners that took a toll of 20 lives has sent shockwaves all over India, especially in States like Assam and West Bengal that have a long border with Bangladesh. What makes the situation rather complex is the statement of Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan that all the terrorists who killed the foreigners in the restaurant were Bangladesh tiols and members of the Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh and had no connection with the ISIS. The long-standing nexus between the Jamatul Mujahideen (JMB) and Pakistan’s ISI is fairly well known. The five terrorists killed were fairly well educated, and one of them—Rohan Ibne Imtiaz—was the son of Awami League leader SM Imtiaz Khan. Khan had informed the police in January this year that his son was missing.
Any sense of relief derived from the fact that the ISIS was not connected with Saturday’s gruesome killings of foreigners in a Dhaka restaurant can only be transient and misplaced. In the first place, we only have the statement of Bangladesh’s Home Minister that there were no links between the JMB killers and the ISIS. No one can be really sure about the ways the ISIS operates or the linkages that it builds up in different countries. Close on the heels of the Dhaka killings, we have had the explosions of two car bombs in Baghdad that took a toll of 119 lives and injured more than 150. The ISIS has taken responsibility for the Baghdad killings. And even if we are to leave out the latest killings in Dhaka, there are the terrorist attacks of the ISIS that have already taken a heavy toll of lives in Paris, Brussels, Baghdad and elsewhere. There is also the news of the ISIS working towards serious acts of genocide in Assam. The ISIS is reported to be training terrorists in Assam in the use of suicide bombs. Indian security organizations have expressed the apprehension that terrorist organisations of Bangladesh like the JMB could well attack Assam and West Bengal with help from the ISIS. It is in the context of these apprehensions that one is somewhat surprised at the statement of the Assam Police that it does not have any details about ISIS terrorists having entered Assam at any time. The Assam police have also denied reports that ISIS terrorists were hiding in certain parts of Assam. The Assam police have clarified that after the major explosions of 2 October 2014 in Khagragarh of Bardhaman in West Bengal carried out by terrorists from Bangladesh, the police had received information about the presence of several secret camps of the fundamentalist organization JMB of Bangladesh in Assam. After having destroyed these camps, the Assam police had received no recent information about the presence of such organizations in the State. However, it is important to bear in mind that neither the French police nor the Belgian police had advance information about the ISIS attacks in Paris and Brussels. And yet, both these police forces are reputed organizations all over Europe. What is significant is that the ISIS has maged to plan its terrorist attacks very meticulously and with great secrecy. If the ISIS was able to plan these attacks without letting the French police and the Belgian police discover their plans, would it be very surprising if they were able to elude the vigilance of the Assam police? In fact, in Assam we have an additiol negative factor that makes efficient information gathering even more difficult. It is a factor called corruption. So, while the statements of the Assam police about the absence of ISIS activities in Assam may be very reassuring, one has still got to reckon with the remarkable efficiency of the ISIS as evinced in the terrorist attacks on Paris, Brussels and Baghdad. The Assam police must make sure that its confidence about the absence of the ISIS in Assam is not misplaced, since the very security of the people of Assam depends to a large extent on the veracity of this information.