suggests that Bangladesh’s militant networks are internationalizing...
July 4, 2016 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Bangladesh Attack Is New Evidence That ISIS Has Shifted Its Focus Beyond the Mideast [The New York Times] Friday night’s assault on the Holey Artisan Bakery in the diplomatic district of Dhaka, in which at least 20 hostages and two police officers were killed, marks a scaling up of ambition and capacity for Bangladesh’s Islamist militancy, which has until now carried out pinpoint assassinations, mostly of critics of Islam and members of religious minorities.

- Dhaka Victims Were a Diverse Group of Global Citizens [The New York Times]
The attack on Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh, killed 20 restaurant patrons who were thriving in an interconnected world. Nine of the victims were Italian, most of whom worked in the apparel trade. Seven were Japanese experts in Dhaka to help improve the city’s chronic traffic congestion. Three were students at American universities who had gone to high school together in Dhaka, and one was a Bangladeshi woman who worked for nonprofit groups and was passionate about the arts. Two police officers who responded to the attack were also killed.
- ISIS Said to Target Foreigners in Bangladesh Attack [The New York Times]
The Islamic State assailants who killed 20 people in a restaurant in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, on Friday picked a place that attracted students, textile producers and employees at nonprofit groups. The people they killed were interested in art, world peace and international business. The victims were from at least four countries, and they were thriving in an interconnected world. The gruesome attack wrenched the customers of the Holey Artisan Bakery from a world of curiosity, tolerance and cultural exchange and thrust them into the world of global terrorism. After an 11-hour standoff between the attackers and the Bangladeshi security forces, the death toll included people who were part of Dhaka’s tight-knit group of Italians, and a group of young students with ties to America.
- Bombing Kills More Than 140 in Baghdad [The New York Times]
As celebrations for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan stretched past midnight into Sunday in central Baghdad, where Iraqis had gathered to eat, shop and just be together, a minivan packed with explosives blew up and killed at least 143 people — the third mass slaughter across three countries in less than a week. The attack was the deadliest in Baghdad in years — at least since 2009 — and was among the worst Iraq has faced since the American invasion of 2003. The bombing came barely a week after Iraqi security forces, backed by American airstrikes, celebrated the liberation of Falluja from the Islamic State, which almost immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Suicide Bombings Hit 3 Saudi Cities, One Near a Holy Site [The New York Times]
Bombings rocked three cities across Saudi Arabia on Monday, including near the Prophet’s Mosque in the holy city of Medina, raising the specter of increasingly coordinated attacks by militants seeking to destabilize the monarchy. A suicide bomber struck near the United States Consulate in the coastal city of Jidda in the morning, wounding two security officers. Then, near dusk, when Muslims were ending their daily Ramadan fasts, other blasts struck near a Shiite mosque in the country’s east and at a security post in Medina, killing four guards, according to the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television network.
- As ISIS Loses Land, It Gains Ground in Overseas Terror [The New York Times]
In just the past few days, the Islamic State’s evolving brand of terrorism has revealed its deadly, shifting faces. In Istanbul last week, Turkish officials say, militants guided by the Islamic State conducted a coordinated suicide attack on the city’s main airport. In Bangladesh on Friday, a local extremist group that has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State butchered diners in a restaurant. And in Baghdad on Sunday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed more than 140 people. The three deadly attacks are already being viewed by intelligence and law enforcement officials as proof that the Islamic State, the only terrorist group to create a state with borders, is becoming a larger, more sophisticated version of its stateless chief rival, Al Qaeda, as it loses territory under traditional military attack in Iraq and Syria.
posted by Fizz (37 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
As far as a shift in focus beyond the Middle East, PBS Frontline did an episode last year on ISIS in Afghanistan (alternate link), which won a Peabody award a few months ago.
posted by XMLicious at 3:47 PM on July 4, 2016


hope y'all are strapped in for the forever war
posted by p3on at 3:54 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


- Bangladesh attack: Shock over 'elite' Holey Cafe suspects [BBC, 2]
The [three identified so far on social media] are all Bangladeshis from rich families and with good educations, according to Bangladeshi's [sic] home minister Asaduzzaman Khan. All three had good educations and are said to have attended private schools in Dhaka.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 4:07 PM on July 4, 2016


From the first linked article:
The cook was crouching in a washroom, taking refuge from the gunmen who had invaded the Holey Artisan Bakery, when he understood that there was a logic behind the killing: The people in the restaurant were being sorted. “Bengali people, come out,” one gunman shouted. When the cook, Sumir Barai, and eight other men opened the bathroom door, trembling, they saw two young men, clean shaven and dressed in jeans and T-shirts.

“You don’t need to be so tense,” one of the men told them. “We will not kill Bengalis. We will only kill foreigners.” At that, Mr. Barai’s gaze flicked to the floor of the restaurant, where he could see six or seven bodies, apparently shot and then sliced with machetes. All appeared to be foreigners. The gunmen, he said, seemed eager to see their actions amplified on social media: After killing the patrons, they asked the staff to turn on the restaurant’s wireless network. Then they used customers’ telephones to post images of the bodies on the internet.
Ugh, they were being "sorted". I hope to never find myself in a situation like that, truly terrifying.
posted by Fizz at 4:10 PM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mod note: One deleted. Hi, this is a thread about terrorist attacks, where we ask folks not to instantly start horrible fights by criticizing the random civilians that were killed.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:14 PM on July 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


With respect to the suspected attackers, and the "shock" of their backgrounds:

The [three identified so far on social media] are all Bangladeshis from rich families and with good educations, according to Bangladeshi's [sic] home minister Asaduzzaman Khan. All three had good educations and are said to have attended private schools in Dhaka.

This seems to suggest something rather astonishingly awful about the differences between poor and rich people. It also sounds uncannily like the rhetoric that emerges in the aftermath of young men's violence here in the US.
posted by clockzero at 4:18 PM on July 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Return of the Nativist -- all over the world.
posted by jamjam at 4:34 PM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


This seems to suggest something rather astonishingly awful about the differences between poor and rich people.

Maybe it's a bit more explicit than the usual narrative here in the US, but I am struggling to come up with recent perpetrators of terrorist attacks here that were from a wealthy background (aside from that guy who went on a shooting spree in Santa Barbara). It does seem kind of shocking that people from a wealthy background were doing this (the wealthy usually commit their acts of terror through the state and don't need to get their own hands dirty).
posted by indubitable at 4:37 PM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Could it just be an observation that their willingness to die was not the product of hopelessness or desperation due to being bereft of prospects in a country that may end up mostly underwater during their lifetimes? (Or maybe this is the "something rather astonishingly awful" which clockzero is referring to.)
posted by XMLicious at 4:48 PM on July 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


I lived in Dhaka in the early 90's as a teenager, I went to the American School (which is across the river from where this massacre occurred and where several of those killed graduated from), my house was a couple blocks away from where the Holey Artisan Bakery is... I've spent a lot of my weekend reading about this and reaching out to friends there. I'm finding it far hard to parse how I feel about this.

Despite their problems, tumultuous history and intense political passions, Bengalis have had a long tradition of religious tolerance and acceptance. I had hoped Bangladesh could be spared something like this but sadly, that history of tolerance has been increasingly difficult to maintain (the recent attacks on atheist bloggers and attacks on religious minorities as examples of the escalation).

While the links above are good here's a few from the local Bangladesh English language media, some of material might be a repeat of the above so I apologise for any overlap:
Faraaz could have, but didn’t leave his friends (more on Faraaz Hossain here in the Times of India)

Some stories about the terrorists - A father discovers his son is one of the terrorists. Pictures of the terrorists and short bios.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:33 PM on July 4, 2016 [24 favorites]


In the ultimate backhanded positive skew, the increase of IS/Dash internationalization is an indicator that the creation of a de facto radical country/caliphate is unlikely to be established. As horrible as the bombings and terror and it's impact on individuals; a basically insane country at the center of the middle east would have been a potential trigger to a world war or worse.

What if they had stabilized, dug in, begun to build/buy an air force, WMD's, charter flights for one way trips to brutal obsession soldiers and growth into Europe, Russia and China. But dug in so the reading of the names of dead soldiers wasn't five minutes at the end of a service but a good hour a day.
posted by sammyo at 5:35 PM on July 4, 2016


It does seem kind of shocking that people from a wealthy background were doing this (the wealthy usually commit their acts of terror through the state and don't need to get their own hands dirty).

Osama bin Laden was wealthy and came from a wealthy family; I can't recall offhand whether all of the 9/11 hijackers were from privileged backgrounds, but I don't think any of them were disadvantaged. My impression is that terrorists generally are wealthier and better educated than the people they claim to represent.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:38 PM on July 4, 2016 [18 favorites]


Maybe it's a bit more explicit than the usual narrative here in the US, but I am struggling to come up with recent perpetrators of terrorist attacks here that were from a wealthy background (aside from that guy who went on a shooting spree in Santa Barbara). It does seem kind of shocking that people from a wealthy background were doing this (the wealthy usually commit their acts of terror through the state and don't need to get their own hands dirty).

I'm not sure about serious wealth, but my impression of recent terrorist and mass-shooting attacks is that the perpetrators seem to often be middle-class-ish. (My impression, again anecdotal, is this was true also for much of the home-grown and international political violence/terrorism in the US and Europe in the 1970s, also.) I think this point gets noted again and again (like about the 9-11 hijackers) because there is a common narrative that links terrorist violence to social and economic marginalization, and while that might be true in some ways it is not usually people who are themselves super marginalized perpetrating the violence.

It was very sad reading the news stories the day after this happened, and every day seems to bring another. Sometimes it feels very hopeless to know how to respond at a person level, much less at a policy or political level, when faced with such senseless violence.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:42 PM on July 4, 2016


And in Malaysia as well, the police finally admitted that a bombing that injured eight people last week was the first successful IS attack in Malaysia.

(and moving back to the Middle East, Saudi Arabia saw three cities bombed in the last 24 hours, including Medina, near the Prophet's Mosque).

Just to note, in many places, Eid will fall on Wednesday 6th July (tomorrow my time).
posted by cendawanita at 6:13 PM on July 4, 2016


It's not just that the perpetrators are often middle-class and above, but were also educated in the sciences, specifically the engineering disciplines. It's such a recurring trait, articles like this have been written about continually. There's something about their personal malaise (and I have read it being attributed to the general lack of socioeconomic prospects in their respective societies), in combination with the engineers' mindset, that makes solutions framed in stark religious worldview absolutely appealing.
posted by cendawanita at 6:23 PM on July 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


Thanks for this post, Fizz. I don't often comment in threads like this, but One of the reasons MetaFilter is my internet home base is that it often provides a level of perspective and analysis about current events that I would not otherwise find in my daily life. This post helps the world make a little more sense, terrible though the subject matter may be. I don't particularly have anything of substance to add, but thanks very much for posting this.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:35 PM on July 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


My impression is that terrorists generally are wealthier and better educated than the people they claim to represent.

this really can't be generalized about. most islamic terrorists in europe in the last fifteen years have been second generation petty criminals, a profile that also matches omar mateen. the 'first generation', however, of eg saudi mujahideen in afghanistan who went on to become major figures in later movements largely came from privileged backgrounds. if a macro trend could be traced i think it would be wealthy educated kids forging the ideology and carrying out early attacks, and later violent idiots using it as a (in their mind) religiously permissible excuse to do what young men tend to want to do.
posted by p3on at 6:47 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not sure about Bangladesh, but after reading about the background of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam I got the sense ISIS recruits from Western Europe where kind of the equivalent of Midwestern Juggalos: young, socially and economically isolated, nothing much going on, looking for a cause.
posted by My Dad at 7:00 PM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


We've come so far since Patty Hearst.
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:07 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of people have been hopeful that Bangladesh could avoid the militancy of other areas of the islamic world based upon their generally solid history of religious tolerance. The shared history of West Bengal and Bangladesh and the deep trading ties between Bangladesh and India seemed to avoid some of the deep sectarian conflicts that have marked so much of India-Pakistan relations.

However the reality is that increasing resource demands fueled by high population growth throughout the Bengal region are no doubt increasing tension and that's before you start getting into the massive issues that are facing Bangladesh in the next 50 years regarding rising seas which quite frankly will devastate the country.

In the face of these significant threats it seems almost inevitable that a certain percentage of the population will be attracted to militancy. It's also perhaps not shocking that the militants in this case were more highly educated than the masses. Education doesn't always result in increased tolerance and in some cases education actually contributes to a sense of entitlement. When entitled individuals fail to reach their desired outcomes sometimes that can result in violence especially if there is an environment where people who are failing to achieve their desired objectives can be directed to focus their anger on some easily defined other.
posted by vuron at 7:12 PM on July 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Speaking as someone who is not a Muslim, Bangladesh doesn't seem very religiously tolerant to me.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:45 PM on July 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Speaking as someone who is not a Muslim, Bangladesh doesn't seem very religiously tolerant to me.

It is not.
posted by My Dad at 8:05 PM on July 4, 2016


Absolutely horrible.

It has been known for a while that terrorists tend to come from educated, middle-class backgrounds. It doesn't mean that there aren't poor terrorists out there - it's just that the overall tendency is towards the middle class. Here's a review of the existing literature.

Long story short: there is no hand-dandy, one-size-fits-all profile for "terrorist", although the running themes tend to center on educated young men with black-or-white thinking who find social approval among their peers when they join extremist groups. Even so-called "lone wolves" are still crying for approval from their far-off peers. It's almost never about poverty unto itself: there's usually some idea of a tightly-held identity and of fighting some kind of acutely perceived humiliation.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:07 PM on July 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


For one, it's Daaesh, as Isis is a name that has significant meaning to American and World culture. Fuck your clever acronym. Daaesh or ISIL or go home, journo-trolls.

For another, Daaesh has been in Libya and Mali how long? Getting their ass kicked whenever they meet armed resistance? Also in Europe! Daaesh kicked the Italian mafioso out of Albania to grow weed, to send the proceeds back to "The Calliphate" (LOL). Congrats! You swapped one set of bastards intolerant of the way you are Islamic to another set of bastards intolerant of the way you are Islamic! Daaesh, the whole world over, seems to like to kill a fuckton of innocent Muslims, and when they think of it, if they have time, some Western (or Southern) infidels.

They're not a credible threat to any nation. They're Islamic in the same way Eric Rudolph or Timothy McVeigh are Catholic. They will wane and diminish and then be no more.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:10 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Could we be adults and acknowledge that when people say they hoped Bangladesh would avoid militancy they meant nothing more than that it wouldn't turn into another Pakistan. This is not meant to imply that Bangladesh is the nation state equivalent of Berkeley, CA. The bar for being a decent nation is pretty low and "not being Pakistan" gets you over it.
posted by great_radio at 8:11 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Daaesh or ISIL or go home, journo-trolls.

I work for an online news org staffed mainly by journalists from the Global South. We're not trolls, and we use the acronym ISIS to refer to the organization. I can't recall exactly why we use ISIS rather than ISIL, but I do know there was a lot of discussion, there is a rationale, and we also do not use the term "Islamic State." We also refrain from using the term "terrorism" as well.
posted by My Dad at 8:25 PM on July 4, 2016 [10 favorites]


They're not a credible threat to any nation

Bingo. The media is free to gin up their barrel organs of coming doom, but suicide one-off terrorist attacks are not a winning strategy for the radicals.

There's what, a billion muslims. Say 1% are "radicalized", and 1% of the radicals are nutso, and 1% of radical nuts are motivated to attack, and 1% of the motivated radical nuts find the means to do so each year.

That's 10 attacks like this each year.

Violence in return isn't going to reverse the cycle we're in, that just makes more nutso people.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 8:26 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


the only people who call them isil are the state department, and they only do it so it doesn't sound like they're fighting comic book villians at press conferences. calling them isis is fine, it strips them of gravitas imo. pretending it's offensive because it's the name of an ancient diety is meaningless holiness posturing.
posted by p3on at 8:30 PM on July 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


and they only do it so it doesn't sound like they're fighting comic book villians at press conferences. calling them isis is fine, it strips them of gravitas imo.
Villian? More like awesome female superhero (disguised as a mild manner school teacher), who predated both Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman on broadcast television.
posted by 445supermag at 8:52 PM on July 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Mod note: A few comments deleted. Folks, maybe let the what-to-call-them sidebar rest for now.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:58 PM on July 4, 2016 [4 favorites]



Could we be adults and acknowledge that when people say they hoped Bangladesh would avoid militancy they meant nothing more than that it wouldn't turn into another Pakistan.


Pakistan and Bangladesh have a history. I understand what you're saying but calling Bangladesh a "Pakistan" is charged to put it mildly.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:52 PM on July 4, 2016 [13 favorites]




An article from a friend of mine, Tahmima Anam - Horror and Sorrow in Dhaka.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:08 PM on July 5, 2016


As far as Bangladesh and religious tolerance goes, yeah OK the Muslim world at large does have issues with anti-Semitism. But on a people-to-people level, Bangladeshi Muslims in my experience (as the child of such a family) tend to be more relaxed than many others; you're Bangali first before you're Muslim, really.

So between this bombing and the murders of LGBTQ activists and bloggers, my queer-pseudo-ex-Muslim-sorta-foreign-Bangladeshi self is freaked out. If they live up to their promise of going after other "enemies of Islam" I am pretty much next. And then the neighbourhood I spent my first year of college in in Malaysia gets bombed, but nobody really cares when they're doing their extremely obnoxious virtue signalling of "why does nobody care about brown people ~~~" because nobody died. Yet.

And yet if this goes on the net effect will be people like me, with our brown faces and Muslim names and Muslim-country passports, getting the short end of the stick everywhere else. Look at Brexit. Look at Trump. Look at One Nation getting reelected. ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/whatever the fuck hates us too and all y'all are doing is helping them by painting targets and shooters together.

As for "the terrorists are wealthy!": it really doesn't take much to be "wealthy" in Bangladesh. You either have a maid, you are a maid, or you're on the streets. All of y'all would be the 0.01% over there.
posted by divabat at 2:44 AM on July 6, 2016 [10 favorites]




I was in the city when this happened. I went with my friends to that cafe all the time.

It just feels like the city is hurting. I don't know how else to describe it. I don't have any analysis to provide. Just yeah. It hurts.
posted by Ziggy500 at 1:15 AM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]




« Older #weareamerica   |   Six Easy Pieces, 19th century edition Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments