U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said on Monday there was evidence to link the extremists who operated recent series of attacks in Bangladesh to the Islamic State (IS) group, which Bangladesh’s government has staunchly denied that IS or any international jihadist network gained a foothold in the country.
The government blamed local extremists to be behind the attack at a cafe and many other attacks on liberal activists and people from religious minorities.
However, after meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka, Mr. Kerry said there was “no argument” that extremists operating in Bangladesh had links to counterparts in Syria and Iraq.
Kerry defended Hasina’s administration against accusations that it is in denial about the nature of the extremist threat it faces.
Kerry further added that the United States stood firmly behind Bangladesh in its fight against Islamist militants, and both countries have agreed to increase cooperation between their respective intelligence agencies.
Kerry said the United States believed that elements of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group were “connected” to operatives in Bangladesh.
“We, today, agreed on additional steps by which our intelligence and law enforcement will work together,” Kerry told reporters.
“We talked very openly about this and we made it very clear that there is evidence that ISIL in Iraq and Syria has contacts with about eight different entities around the world, and one of them is in South Asia,” he said, according to the AFP news agency.
“They are connected to some degree with some of the operatives here and we made that very clear in our conversation. There was no argument about it,” he said.