According to security experts and CSIS, Canada has been one of the most terrorist friendly countries in the world. Members of IRA, ETA, Tamil Tigers, Sikh extremists, Al-Qaeda – all of them were welcomed, supported by the Canadian immigration system i.e. Canadian taxpayers and protected by the courts and Charter of Rights.
TORONTO—Six weeks after a Canadian terrorist leader was killed by security forces in Bangladesh, ISIL has released what it said was his account of how his group attacked a Dhaka restaurant popular among foreigners.
The Holey Artisan Bakery “was selected for this blessed operation because it was well-known for being frequented by the citizens of the Crusader countries,” Tamim Chowdhury wrote in the ISIL magazine Rumiyah.
Posted online Tuesday, it was the first acknowledgement from ISIL that Chowdhury, 30, was the head of “military and covert operations” in Bangladesh. The former Windsor resident died when police raided a Dhaka apartment on Aug. 27.
In his posthumous report on the attack at the restaurant, Chowdhury said it had been chosen from among several potential targets because it was a “sinister place” where “Crusaders would gather to drink alcohol and commit vices through the night.”
Nine Italians, seven Japanese, an Indian, American and two locals died in the July 1 siege. “Those who proved their Islam were treated with respect and mercy and those who manifested their kufr (disbelief) were treated with harshness and severity,” he wrote.
The five attackers carried out the killings “in order to give the Crusaders a taste of their own medicine,” he wrote.
Chowdhury threatened more attacks against citizens of countries fighting ISIL. “The mujahedin will target expats, tourists, diplomats, garment buyers, missionaries, sports teams and anyone else from the Crusader citizens to be found in Bengal until the land is purified from the Crusaders and all other kuffar (non-believers) and the law of Allah is established.”
But security forces in Bangladesh have been cracking down on the militant group since the restaurant attack, arresting and killing key members, including Chowdhury’s alleged sidekick, a former Bangladesh army officer who appears to have trained with the Canadian Forces in Kingston for six months in 2014.
A woman who answered the door at the Chowdhury family’s house in Windsor last month declined to comment. The RCMP has been trying to confirm his death through DNA testing. Photos released by Bangladeshi police show a man who closely resembled Chowdhury lying face down in a large pool of blood.
After moving to Windsor with his parents, Chowdhury attended John L. Forster Secondary School, said his former teacher Pat Osborne. He was awarded the Governor General’s academic bronze medal in 2006. “He was a bright kid,” Osborne said. “He got a scholarship to the University of Windsor.”
The Bangladesh Canada Association of Windsor Essex said Chowdhury was not active in community events. “He always showed himself a religious, very quiet, peaceful and intelligent person,” said president Mohamed Abdul Quaiyum. The association said it was “shocked and dishonored” to learn he had been involved with the “satanic activities” of ISIL.
The mujahedin will target expats, tourists, diplomats, garment buyers, missionaries, sports teams and anyone else from the Crusader citizens
In 2009, Chowdhury attended a weekend course taught by imam Navid Aziz. “He was a very reserved, very quiet guy. He didn’t speak much,” Aziz said. “I remember that when I spoke to him he was thinking about pursuing a path in engineering, so he was quite intelligent.”
The popular imam did not see him again until April 2012. Aziz said he came out of Calgary’s Edmonton Trail mosque after Friday prayers and saw Chowdhury with Damian Clairmont, a Muslim convert who attended the downtown 8th & 8th prayer centre.
“It seemed like he was mainly just hanging out with the old 8th and 8th crew, Damian Clairmont and those guys,” said Aziz, the Islamic Information Society of Calgary imam. “For him to become like a leader, I just didn’t see it in him.”
According to Bangladesh press reports, police believe Chowdhury trained in Syria before arriving in Dhaka from Dubai in October 2013. He apparently used his Bangladeshi passport because his Canadian one had been seized by the RCMP.
The “Calgary cluster” was a group of six friends who had become infatuated with the violent anti-Western rhetoric of al-Qaida: Damian Clairmont, Salman Ashrafi, Ahmad Waseem, brothers Gregory and Collin Gordon and Chowdhury. Expelled from the 8thand 8th prayer centre, they formed their own radical prayer group and fed off each other’s zeal.
All are now dead.
“The case of Tamim Chowdhury supports what a lot of research has always said — there is a deep significance to local clusters and networks, the sense of brotherhood, and the ways in which these groups increasingly polarize themselves down the path to violence,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, a fellow at the George Washington University Program on Extremism who first connected Chowdhury to Calgary.