Eight construction and marine workers from Bangladesh were detained in Singapore between late March and early April this year, according to a statement from the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs. They were suspected of planning terror attacks linked to the Islamic State in their home country and were arrested under the city-state’s Internal Security Act.
The ongoing investigations reveal that the group possessed documents on weapons and bomb making, as well as propaganda materials which were used to recruit other Bangladeshi nationals in Singapore.
Singaporean officials also accused Rahman Mizanur, a Bangladeshi national, of creating the Islamic State of Bangladesh (ISB) after being radicalised in 2015. According to the Ministry’s statement, ISB seeks “[to] overthrow the democratically elected government through the use of force, establish an Islamic State in Bangladesh [and] bring it under ISIS’ self-declared caliphate.”
Bangladesh politics is characterized by conflict between the secular Awami League and the Bangladesh National Party, an ally of the largest Islamist party of the country. Although the country is constitutionally Islamic and the majority of the Bangladeshi believe in Islam, each party’s controversial political decisions spiked tension between the two parties, making the country prone to attacks from extremist groups.
The British government has warned travelers of ISIS’s and Al-Qaeda’s activities in Bangladesh. Starting last September, ISIS has claimed responsibility for attacks on foreigners, as well as other religious minority groups such as the Shia, Amadiyya, Christian and Hindu communities. In addition, groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) have claimed responsibility for the murder of secular online bloggers and LGBT+ members.