The arrest of two Ansarullah Bangla Team members by the Kolkata police only goes on to show the extent of penetration that the Islamic State has made in West Bengal. The ABT, a Bangladesh based terrorist outfit is considered to be the B-Team of the ISIS in the sub-continent.
In fact, when the ISIS had announced operations in Bangladesh, it had sought the support of the ABT to expand operations. The ABT which was earlier associated with the al-Qaeda switched loyalties a year and a half back. Its leaders openly propagated in the name of the ISIS. The ABT was also responsible for the killing of bloggers and intellectuals in Bangladesh.
The preliminary investigations conducted post the arrest of Samsad and Riazul suggested that they were in West Bengal to purchase arms and chemicals to prepare explosives. The arrest was carried out following specific intelligence inputs.
Intelligence Bureau officials say that the arrests are crucial. There was never any strong presence of the ABT in India and their operations were largely restricted to Bangladesh. With their arrest details about the modules they have set up and also the locals they were in touch with would come to light, the officer also noted.
The arrest also showed that these men were not in India only to purchase arms. Religious literature found on them suggests that they were also planning on distributing the same to spread the ideology. The IB officer said that the ABT has plans of acting as a proxy for the ISIS in India. The ISIS which has come heavily under the radar in West Bengal would use the ABT to stay off the radar and continue to spread its ideology.
In Bangladesh, the ISIS made a slow start. Several splinter groups had been siding with the al-Qaeda including the ABT. However, over the past few months, the Ansar Ul Bangla Team(ABT) witnessed some infighting and several disgruntled elements decided to pledge support to the ISIS.
An Intelligence Bureau dossier says that the ISIS works with allies in the sub-continent. In Afghanistan, it garners support from the Heroes of Islam Brigade in Khorasan and the al-Tawheed Brigade in Khorasan. In India, the ISIS has the support of the Ansar-ul-Tawhid or the erstwhile Indian Mujahideen. n Pakistan, the ISIS has the support of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, Tehreek-e-Khilafat and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
The IM has not had a strong base in West Bengal and Assam. Groups such as the Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami and SIMI have a greater presence. The ABT has been roped in now and the arrest signals the beginning of this alliance in Bengal and Assam.
The ABT and the ISIS began spreading a reign of fear among the people by issuing fatwas in a bid to set up an Islamic Caliphate. The ISIS saw an opportunity in Bangladesh and realized that it could set up a module in order to achieve its dream of setting up a Caliphate which would also spill into Bengal and the neighbouring areas.