Jihadist readying car bomb attacks "to establish Allah's rule in the soil of Allah"
Islamist militants in Bangladesh are preparing to launch car bomb attacks and carry out other deadly missions, one self-described militant commander said in a rare interview with a private television channel.
"After going somewhat slow following the execution of our top six leaders, we have regrouped, received funding from Saudi Arabia, acquired training and (are) now recruiting drivers to operate suicide vehicles," he told Ekushey television (ETV).
ETV aired the interview late on Wednesday night, showing the militant hooded in a black robe from head to toe, and only revealing one eye.
"I cannot give my name for security reasons," he said, describing himself as the commander of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, an outlawed group seeking to introduce tough Islamic sharia law in mainly Muslim Bangladesh.
The Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen and another outlawed organisation, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, are blamed for exploding some 500 small bombs in simultaneous attacks across Bangladesh on August 17, 2005, killing three people.
They are also alleged to have killed at least 30 more people and wounded 150 in attacks through the rest of that year. The victims included judges, lawyers, policemen and others.
Six Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen leaders were hanged in March and many of its followers are on the run.
"The executions did not break our morale, rather inspired us to carry forward their mission," the militant said in the interview, conducted in an undisclosed jungle location.
"We have several thousand cadres ready, including many to operate suicide missions."
The militant said one funding means was "our people who work in Saudi Arabia", who send some of their own savings and collect from other sources.
"We are ready to strike again, soon," he added.
The Islamists faced some operational difficulties because of a state of emergency in Bangladesh now, but hoped to overcome those soon, the militant said.
"Now we have drafted young and old, and even women. They are all trained and equipped."
Asked what mission he wanted to achieve, the militant said "to establish Allah's rule in the soil of Allah."
"Anyone who accepts our demand is a friend, anyone who don't is an enemy. And we will finish them."
He denied any links with the Taliban or other violent groups outside Bangladesh.
Defence analyst retired major-general Shahedul Anam Khan told ETV the threat of car bombings could be real but it might take some time before there was an attack.