Whether there was indeed some direct involvement and operational control by the global jihadist terror group the Islamic State (ISIS) or not, the fact remains that on the evening of July 1 a group of armed men stormed a bakery café frequented by foreigners in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, killed 20 people and held the rest hostage for almost twelve hours until finally overcome by a military commando strike that left all but one of the attackers dead.
The nightmare began at about 8:30 PM, when the Holy Artisan Bakery was busy with its evening crowd, which included sizable groups of foreigners of several nationalities. Seven figures dressed in black and carrying assault rifles and bladed weapons burst into the building and opened fire. While several members of the bakery staff managed to escape in the first few seconds of the confusion – some who escaped detection ended up being locked inside the bakery’s restroom by mistake – those who were left behind were compelled to try reading passages from the Quran, killing those who were not able to. Some two hours later, past 10 PM, a raid by local police was repulsed with two officers dead.
By 3 in the early morning of July 2, Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed had authorized the use of military force to break the standoff and rescue the surviving hostages. At 5 AM, Bangladeshi commandoes in armored transports arrived at the scene and an intense gun battle erupted for nearly an hour more. By the time it was over, six of the hostage-takers were dead while the sole survivor was taken into custody. Only 13 hostages remained to be rescued (including the ones in the restroom); 20 victims lay dead by hack and stab wounds on the bakery floor. The final casualty count was nine Italians, seven Japanese, one Indian and three Bangladeshi. Sadly, the fact that the Indian and two of the Bangladeshi attended university in the US and had American accents caused them to “fail” the test given by the terrorists and doomed them to be killed, while the third simply refused to leave his foreigner friends behind.
While ISIS was all too eager to claim responsibility for the attack, even posting pictures of the hostage-takers posing on the scene with the ISIS flag sent online via the bakery’s wireless network, Prime Minister Sheik Hasina insists that the terrorist organization has no true presence in Bangladesh, instead assigning blame to the Jamaeytul Mujahdeen Bangladesh, a local Islamist insurgency that until lately was more engaged in the murder of individual unacceptable targets such as secular bloggers, gay rights advocates, atheists and members of the countries religious minority.
It does however indicate a troubling trend. With ISIS’ actual territorial gains in Syria slowly dwindling away, they have begun launching terror strikes across the furthest locations in the globe, as well as fomenting increased Islamic militancy in countries with any Muslim population, like Bangladesh. Survivors of the Holey Artisan Bakery siege described their captors as being well-kempt, polite, and educated, unlike the usual image of a jihadist fighter. They were also well known to the police, some of them being publicly listed as missing for some months before resurfacing in the terror attack.
Messages of condolences have poured out for the slain from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi and Pope Francis, and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. For her part, Prime Minister Sheik Hasina has declared two days of national mourning throughout Bangladesh for this tragic turn of events.
Photo Credit to www.thestar.com
Photo Credit to www.thestar.com