Police say ‘local coordinator’ wanted to establish caliphate in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh police said Monday they have arrested four suspected members of the Islamic State jihadist group including a “local coordinator” who was planning to establish a self-declared “caliphate” in the country.
The suspected coordinator, Mohammad Sakhawatul Kabir, and three others were detained in the capital following raids on Sunday, Dhaka Metropolitan Police said in a statement. During interviews, Kabir admitted the four were planning to collect funds and weapons from sympathizers, and the aim “was to attack important offices of the government and establish a caliphate” in Bangladesh, police said.
“Kabir has been working as the Bangladesh representative and coordinator of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” it said, adding that he was trained in Pakistan. Police did not say whether the four had traveled to or fought in Syria or Iraq where the I.S. group has captured territory. It was also unclear whether the four, as well as others in South Asia organizing under the I.S. name, were acting on their own or with support from the extremist group in the Middle East.
The arrests came as Bangladesh has been hit by weeks of violent anti-government protests organized by the country’s main opposition parties that include several Islamist outfits. At least 27 people have been killed in the latest unrest that began after opposition leader Khaleda Zia was confined in her office by police in Dhaka on Jan. 3. She was allowed to leave Monday.