The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the murder of an Italian national in Bangladesh, a jihadist threat monitoring portal, SITE Intelligence Group, says.
An NGO official, Cesare Tavella, aged around 50, was shot dead on Monday evening at the heart of Dhaka’s diplomatic enclave in Gulshan amid the UK and Australia’s security concerns.
This would be the first attack in Bangladesh by the radical Sunni Islamist militant group that has seized large swathes of territory in eastern Syria and across northern and western Iraq.
The government has vowed zero tolerant to any form of militant and extremism.
Police earlier in May arrested a group planning to float an organisation like the IS in order to establish Khilafat in Bangladesh.
The SITE Intelligence Group ran the story of the IS claim with a message written in Arabic.
The IS claimed their responsibility just hours after the murder that left law-enforcing agencies, who were allaying Cricket Australia’s concerns on Monday, puzzled.
Witnesses told bdnews24.com the assailants tailed Tavella, the project manager of NGO ICCO Cooperation’s Profitable Opportunities for Food Security (PROOFS) programme, before gunned him down on Road 90 at about 7pm.
He was jogging wearing t-shirt and three-quarter pants on the street close to the High Commission of Pakistan and Bangladesh Bank governor’s residence.
Who are the SITE Intelligence Group?
Once a little known research group, the SITE intelligence surprised many last year when it published a video showing the murder of American journalist Steven Joel Sotloff even before the jihadist did.
According to the UK-based newspaper The Independent, SITE (it stands for ‘Search for International Terrorist Entities’) is a for-profit US-based consultancy group that monitors and tracks the activities of “international terrorists and the global jihadist network”.
The group has ties to both the US government and commercial clients and specialises in monitoring the online activities of jihadist and issue warning to their clients, the newspaper said in an article last year.
A profile of Rita Katz, the Director and co-founder of the SITE Intelligence Group, said she studied, tracked, and analysed international terrorists, the global jihadist network and terrorism financing for more than a decade.
The New Yorker magazine in 2006 described SITE’s customers as “people in government […] frustrated by how long it takes to get information through official channels” as well as “people in corporate security and in the media”.
The Independent said in 2004 Katz was commended by the FBI for her contributions to counterterrorism investigations, and in 2007 her group was credited with finding the first videos of Osama bin Laden after three years of silence.