Sat, Oct 29, 2016 | updated 05:01 AM IST

Obama administration offers help to probe Dhaka terror attack

Updated: Jul 06, 2016 15:34 IST

By Ishaan Prakash

Washington D.C.,July 6 (ANI):The Obama administration has offered to extend all possible help to Bangladesh to investigate last Thursday's brutal terror attack in national capital Dhaka, which left at least 20 persons dead, including one Indian.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry wasted no time in offering help to Bangladesh to investigate those behind the killing at a Dhaka restaurant on the holiest day in the Islamic calendar.

The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack within hours of the massacre and posted pictures of five grinning fighters with the IS flag in the background. However, Dhaka was equally quick to deny IS the 'glory' by insisting that the massacre at the Holey Artisan Cafe was the doing of local militants who had no affiliation with international terror groups.

Think tanks that study terror attacks around the globe say that the answer lies somwhere in between. First, Dhaka would need to conduct an unbiased, clinical and thorough investigation about who the gunmen were and what was their motivation before believing the ISIS claims or the too quick denial by the ruling party.

Second, there is no denying the fact that the western world has by and large ignored the festering radicalism in Bangladesh with its large Muslim population and fractured polity.

As was evident within hours of the attack, American television could barely manage to get half-a-dozen terror experts to lucidly explain the make up of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh, its position in the Indian subcontinent, it's complicated relationship with Pakistan, links with Wahabi groups and more.

But there is a consensus that even if the IS did not plan, plot and execute the massacre, terror outfits in Bangladesh now have a common cause with the IS and the like. The pan-Islamic Hizb-ut-Tehrir has been active in Bangladesh seeking to overthrow the secular government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hassina and establish Islamic rule in its place. It found common cause in 2012 with a disgruntled Bangladeshi Army officer Major Syed Zia-ul-Haq who plotted a coup against the Awami League government.

When the coup was unearthed with the help of Indian intelligence agencies, Major Zia went underground but has been de facto head of another militant outfit known as the Ansar Bangla Team or ABT.

The ABT has been recruiting youth for arms training and inspiring lone wolves to attack atheist bloggers and people from the minority community. The ABT has ideological links to the Al Qaeda and political affiliation to the Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami party led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia (no relation to Major Zia).

Bangladeshi authorities have been trying to trace links that Major Zia has with a Bangladeshi national Mohammad Ishraq Ahmed, suspected to have links with both Pakistani and Chinese intelligence, and who they say is providing funding for overthrowing the democratically-elected government.

Bangladesh intelligence is seeking cooperation from western intelligence organisations to trace both Mohammad Ishraq Ahmed and Major Zia, the money trails and their locations. The U.S. administration is understood to have agreed to assist the Bangladesh Government in locating these two fugitives.

The Awami League leaders speaking to media in Dhaka say they are not very hopeful of finding these two men as they travel often between Pakistan and Hong Kong with the active help from establishments in both those countries. The ball now rests with US state department, if it will actively use its negotiation powers with foreign governments to help in cracking the case of the Gulshan cafe massacre.(ANI)