SPECIAL CASE REPORT: Dhaka Attack Displays ISIS’ Increased Presence In Bangladesh And Its Escalation In Violence


East Asia Correspondent – David McDonald

SPECIAL CASE REPORT:  Dhaka Attack Displays ISIS’ Increased Presence In Bangladesh And Its Escalation In Violence 

Executive Summary:

ISIS’ most recent attack on a Dhaka café displays its increased presence in Bangladesh and its attempts at escalating violence.  ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack that occurred on a café in Dhaka on 1 July.  Similar to its previous attacks, the Islamic State (IS) targeted foreigners within the café by taking them hostage. ISIS’ attack displays a sudden escalation in violence because of its militaristic method and the number of victims killed.


ISIS claimed responsibility for the death of twenty hostages at a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 1 July.[i]  It is the most recent in an onslaught of attacks claimed by ISIS within the country.[ii]  ISIS focused its past attacks on foreigners, secularists, and activists and typically targeted one or two specific victims at once.  Its hacking death of a Buddhist monk in April provides a recent example of this.[iii]

ISIS killed twenty foreigners during the attack.  The murdered victims consist of nine Italians, seven Japanese, three Bangladeshis, and one Indian.  Authorities believe that the three Bangladeshis are U.S. citizens,[iv] and that two are students at Emory University.[v]  As security forces attempted to enter the café, they exchanged fire with the attackers killing six of them.[vi]  Bangladeshi security forces successfully saved thirteen of the victims after the raid.[vii]

Previous ISIS attacks on foreigners in Bangladesh include the death of Italian citizen Cesare Tavella in September 2015,[viii] and a U.S. embassy worker and gay rights activist in April 2016.[ix]

This attack will likely inspire more extensive attacks in Bangladesh from both IS and al-Qaeda affiliates.  Many western intelligence officials believe attacks in Orlando and Dhaka display ISIS’ shift from the Middle East to other geographical targets as it loses territory in Iraq and Syria, providing difficulty in deterring these attacks in the future.[x]

Analytic Confidence:

Analytic confidence for this assessment is medium.  The analyst did not us an analytic technique for this analysis.  Source reliability is medium with no conflict among sources and information from the past month.  The analyst’s expertise on the topic is minimal.  The analyst worked alone for this analysis.  The task complexity was moderately complex and the time constraint was sufficient.

[i] http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/02/asia/bangladesh-dhaka-shooting/ (medium)

[ii] https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/bangladesh/2016-06-09/rise-extremism-bangladesh (high)

[iii] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36292457 (high)

[iv] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36692613 (high)

[v] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/02/dhaka-attack-bangladesh-us-students-killed (high)

[vi] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/02/dhaka-attack-bangladesh-us-students-killed (high)

[vii] http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/unidentified-attackers-trade-gunfire-with-police-in-dhaka/article8797961.ece (medium)

[viii] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/in-sight/wp/2016/04/26/the-islamic-state-and-islamic- fundamentalism-on-the-rise-in-bangladesh/ (medium)

[ix] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36203768 (high)

[x] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/03/world/asia/bangladesh-hostage-standoff.html?_r=0 (medium)

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