One of the two men arrested in Bangladesh for planning to join ISIS fighters in Syria was identified Monday as an IT professional working for a local unit of global beverage giant Coca-Cola. Local police say the two men are members of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, or JMB, a banned radical fundamentalist group with a history of planting bombs and assassinating judges perceived to be secular.
Officials told the Dhaka Tribune that the suspect, Aminul Islam, was both the head of information technology of a “multinational company” and a regional coordinator for JMB. The other man was identified as Sakib Bin Kamal, an English teacher and JMB member. Reuters identified the company as International Beverages Private Ltd.
“We will fully cooperate with the law enforcement agencies as required,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.
The arrests come as Bangladesh struggles with Islamic extremism and the rising influence of the ideologies expounded by groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, such as the enforcement of gender-based segregation; the implementation of Shariah, including the death penalty for apostates; and blasphemy laws. Three men -- Ananta Bijoy Das, Avijit Roy and Washiqur Rahman -- were hacked to death by angry mobs for blogging atheist ideas and criticizing radical Islamic ideology.
About a dozen men allied to the cause of radical fighters in Syria have been arrested in Bangladesh since the beginning of the year. Four were accused of raising funds and collecting weapons in an effort to copy ISIS’s strategy to form a “caliphate” inside Bangladesh. The country is a predominantly Muslim and Islam is its official religion. But its high court re-introduced “secularism” as a basic constitutional tenet in 2010, which was stripped from the document in 1977.
The move enraged hardline Muslims who see the government as deviating away from Islam. Bangladesh had been struggling for years against acts of violence perpetuated in the name of Islam, but the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq has emboldened militant hardliners in the country.