[But Sheikh Hasina,
’s prime minister, has responded to the developments with suspicion and outright skepticism. Even as foreign embassies informed their citizens that they could become terrorist targets, Bangladeshi officials have insisted that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or Bangladesh ISIL, does not exist in their country. They have noted, pointedly, that the has promulgated flawed intelligence in the past, as in the run-up to the United States invasion.] Iraq
The disconnect between Bangladesh and foreign intelligence agencies
has confused Bangladeshis and foreigners alike, and could complicate
anti-terrorism efforts. Credit A.M. Ahad/Associated Press
In the days that followed, a series of unusual attacks and threats seemed to substantiate the warnings. An Italian aid worker was fatally shotin this city’s diplomatic zone. A Japanese agriculturalist was shot in the north of the country. Last Saturday, a bomber sneaked into ahuge gathering of Shiite Muslims, weaving through rings of police officers before killing a teenage boy and wounding dozens of other people.
After each attack, claims of responsibility by the Islamic State appeared on social media accounts believed to be used by radicals.
But Sheikh Hasina,
Instead, Ms. Hasina has described the episodes as a conspiracy by domestic opposition leaders to tarnish her government’s reputation.
The disconnect between
Command-and-control links between those groups would introduce new dangers for
“We are taking the Islamic State claim very seriously,” said a senior diplomat in
So far, evidence of those links is fragmentary. The police here have arrested more than 30 followers of the Islamic State, mainly students from prosperous families who were planning to travel to
Ali Riaz, an expert on South Asian politics at Illinois State University, said that he was “seriously skeptical” that major jihadi groups had an “organizational presence” in Bangladesh, but said that homegrown cells were eager to form affiliations.
“If opportunity arises and pathways are found, these local groups will become the I.S. franchise in no time,” he said.
The story of last month’s warning points to deep-rooted mutual suspicion between
Around a month ago, intelligence agencies from the so-called Five Eyes alliance, which includes
The target was believed to be the Glitter Ball, a boozy annual costume party popular with foreigners, who in the past have organized teams dressed as Elvis impersonators, mermaids or the crew on “Star Trek.”
On Sept. 27,
She found the warnings frustrating and inconclusive, said Gowher Rizvi, an aide who accompanied her on the trip. He said the
“We have a long history of sharing intelligence,” he said in an interview. “Why, on this occasion, are you taking unilateral actions and not sharing information?”
He added that, in the past, “the credulity of the world has also been tested” by flawed intelligence passed on by the
In an interview, Mr. Rizvi first said the American briefing occurred on Sept. 25 or 26; he later said it was early on Sept. 28.
It was the evening of Sept. 28 when an Italian aid worker, Cesare Tavella, was shot while jogging in
Bangladeshi officials said the social media messages were not authentic, as they did after claims of responsibility for the killing of the Japanese citizen and the attack on the Shiite gathering.
Mr. Rizvi said that it would be “foolhardy” to discount the possibility that the Islamic State was present in
“Someone in the rank and file might have said, ‘Let’s stir up some confusion, this government is getting a lot of good press,’ ” he said. “This government is getting a lot of good press. It was her birthday. It happened the day she made her speech.”
Mr. Islam, of the
“They should have shared with us reliable information before the incident,” he said. “If they shared, maybe we might have avoided the killing.”
A spokeswoman for the United States Embassy did not respond directly to the Bangladeshi criticism, or criticize
“Foreign governments have shared what information they have had with their Bangladeshi partners, but it is important to recognize terrorist attacks like what we have seen recently in
Siegfried O. Wolf, a professor of political science at the South Asia Institute of the
Moreover, mistrust of the
Some countries have lent support to her skepticism. Alexander A. Nikolaev, the Russian ambassador to
Over a month, the initial panic among expatriates has subsided, and foreigners have begun to reappear in
Diplomats here say the threat remains serious. One senior Western diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity for reasons of protocol, said the heightened threat was a “complete game changer” that would permanently affect security conditions for foreigners.
“This is not going to blow over,” the diplomat said. “The genie is not going back in the bottle. It’s not going to un-change.”
For those Bangladeshis already apprehensive about militant activity, the contradictory messages have deepened their anxiety.
“The way this government is denying the existence of Islamic State, it is not acceptable at all,” said Mizanur Rahman Khan, a journalist at Prothom Alo, a prominent daily newspaper, who last month received a written threat on his mobile phone from “Islamic State Bangladesh” after he wrote an article about Uighur Islamic terror groups in China.
“Stop reporting against Islam and Muslims’ interests, otherwise we’re here to push you down to hell,” the message said.
Two weeks later, a stranger stopped him as he was riding a rickshaw and threatened him with a gun; he escaped on foot into a candy store. When he reported the episode to the police, he said, an official told him to stop riding rickshaws. Since then, he has stopped making television appearances, and, on the advice of his editor, varies the route he takes to work.
“We are in a very difficult position to understand the real danger,” he said. “We are not hearing anything from the government, or from the
Julfikar Ali Manik contributed reporting from
@ The New York Times