Whether Islamist extremist group IS has a presence in Bangladesh or not still remains a puzzle, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and most of her cabinet colleagues saying this dreaded entity does not exist in the country - but on the other hand, one or two of other Ministers having a different view say there may be 'scattered' existence of IS militants in Bangladesh.
The second view was expressed, according to an online media report, among others, by the Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Huq at a function at Meherpur on Sunday. The government blamed the recent killing of two foreigners on its political rivals but Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is scoffed at the allegation.
Sources with the law enforcing agencies on Sunday told the Daily Observer that no militant outfit such as Islamic State (IS) has a presence in Bangladesh.
After the killing of Japanese Hoshi Kunio, and Italian Cesare Tavella, question were asked widely whether it was an act of the IS but the authorities quickly turned down such speculations. But with the bodies still lying in the morgue, it really didn't remove all the mists shrouding the mysterious killings.
On January 18, 2015, Detective Branch (DB) of police arrested the four people - Sakhawatul Kabir, Anwar Hossain, Rabiul Islam and Nazrul Islam - in Dhaka's Jatrabari area for their suspected links with IS. In the last six months, 19 persons suspected of involvement with IS, were arrested.
Following their interrogation, police came to know that they have link with Jammat-e-Islami, an ally of BNP-who together are trying to vitiate law and order in the country. They planned to kill important persons, attack on public places and ultimately throw Bangladesh into the international focus
When asked, Muntasirul Islam, Deputy Commissioner (Media) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), declined to comment on the issue.
Militancy in the country saw a rise during the past BNP-Jamaat rule. But the outfits have apparently been inactive, following the execution of seven Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) kingpins, including Shayek Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai in 2007, and the arrests of several hundred of its leaders and operatives.
The government has vowed to preserve Bangladesh's secular character and completely root out the extremists. Thousands of police, paramilitaries and members of elite security force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) have been deployed in the effort to arrest the militants. Nearly 1,200 JMB activists have been arrested, with 51 given death sentences between 2007 and now.
A senior official of a law enforcement agency who oversees the anti-militant operations, said the activities of the militant groups had never been so intense since 2005.
The law enforcement agencies have stepped up their vigilance, as a result of which about 200 suspected extremists have been arrested in the last six months. Arms, explosives and huge amounts of bomb-manufacturing materials have been recovered, the police official said.
DB Joint Commissioner Monirul Islam told the Daily Observer that they had no 'solid' evidence of anyone going from Bangladesh to actually fight in Syria. It was reported time and again in the recent past that the IS was recruiting fighters from Bangladesh.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal have also vehemently denied any existence of IS in the country.