The claim comes in the latest release of Dabiq, an online magazine published by the militant group’s propaganda wing.
The article asserts that militants have “performed the necessary military operations, and hastened to answer the order from the Islamic State leadership, by targeting the crusaders and their allies wherever they may be found,” the Economic Times, an Indian publication, reported Monday. The ISIS magazine offered little detail of the supposed expansion into Bangladesh and did not name the purported new leader.
The magazine’s release came just a week after ISIS claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that left at least 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded. Militants also claimed responsibility for downing a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31. Both attacks, for which ISIS claimed responsibility, were seen to signal that the group based in Syria and Iraq is planning attacks around the globe even as it has lost territory in the Middle East in recent months.
Bangladesh already has a number of extremist groups, including the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, which some have speculated may have pledged allegiance to ISIS. That has not been confirmed, but the group has a presence in both Bangladesh and neighboring states in India and reportedly shares a puritanical interpretation of Islam.
Recent reports indicate that the Arab ISIS leadership looks down upon South Asian recruits, instead preferring Arab fighters. Members from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are often used for suicide attacks, whereas Arab fighters are provided with better arms and ammunition, equipment, accommodation and salaries, Hindustan Times reported Tuesday.
U.S. officials warned Bangladeshi authorities in September that they had information indicating that ISIS hoped to ramp up its activity in the South Asian nation, the New York Times reported. The country saw a series of attacks that were deemed to substantiate the warnings. After each attack, including the fatal shooting of an Italian aid worker, ISIS supporters claimed via social media that militants were responsible. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina denies, however, that ISIS has a presence in the country.