Is this the end of Islamic State in Bangladesh?

There are indications that al-Adnani was indeed the principal patron or sponsor of ISIS operations in Bangladesh

This is the big news of the day – Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the second most senior leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) is dead. According to latest reports, al-Adnani was killed in a US air strike near the town of al-Bab in Northern Syria on Tuesday. As he was the  the chief spokesman and propagandist of the group, he was often described as “the voice of ISIS.” However, as Rukmini Callimachi of The New York Times (NYT) notes on Twitter, “[al-Adnani] was far more than the mouthpiece of IS. He was head of the Emni, the secret service of IS which plotted external terror attacks.”

How important was al-Adnani (real name: Taha Subhi Falaha) for Bangladeshi ISIS jihadis? An indication of that can be found in an infamous ISIS video featuring three Bangladeshi jihadis in Raqqa, the ISIS capital. In that video, which was recorded at an intersection of a shopping street just two blocks away from the ISIS headquarters, Bangladeshi ISIS fighter Abu Issa al-Bengali (real name: Tahmid Rahman Shafi) refers to al-Adnani as “our Sheikh.” According to him, the gruesome slaughter of foreign nationals and Bangladeshis at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka “was just a glimpse” of a global war envisioned by the Sheikh.

There are indications that al-Adnani was indeed the principal patron or sponsor of ISIS operations in Bangladesh. This was first revealed by Rukmini Callimachi as she interviewed Harry Sarfo, a former ISIS member now serving a prison sentence in Germany. During the interview, Sarfo told Callimachi that a regional division of the Emni – ISIS secret service headed by al-Adnani – was responsible for plotting and executing the “recent café attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh.”
It is also highly likely that Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury – the alleged mastermind of the Gulshan attack – was sent to Bangladesh by al-Adnani himself or one of his deputies overseeing the “Asian affairs division” of the Emni. Chowdhury left Canada sometime in 2012/2013 and received training in Syria before being deployed as an ISIS coordinator in Bangladesh. He was recently killed – some believe executed – by a special police unit in Narayanganj.

These deaths – al-Adnani’s in al-Bab and Chowdhury’s in Narayanganj  – will certainly have a crippling effect on ISIS operations in Bangladesh. However, as the NYT journalist Callimachi points out on Twitter: “I would caution people not to see this as a blow ISIS can not recover from. [The organisation] is built to survive deaths.”

This article was first published on



Related Articles