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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Bangladesh Hostage Crisis; Dhaka Police Trying To Communicate With Gunmen; Cafe Owner: Twenty People Held Hostage At Restaurant. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired July 1, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:23] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN BREAKING NEWS.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Richard Question in London and I bring your breaking news of a violent hostage situation that's currently
underway in Dhaka, in Bangladesh. It is 2:00 in the morning. And the facts that we know, the government are holding 20 people hostage at a
bakery called the Holey Artisan Bakery.
Now, this particular bakery is in the middle of the diplomatic and the upper-end quarter of Dhaka. The cafe owner himself managed to escape when
he heard the gun fire and he's told CNN that he believes there are six to eight gunmen that are currently in there and he believe up to 20 hostages
but that's not confirmed yet.
We do know that two policemen have been shot dead in the attack. One was the officer-in-charge of a nearby police station. And the gunmen threw
explosives at the police. There was source, so we don't know the nature of what happened. The police are telling us or made public that hostage
takers have made no demands. The SITE Intel Group says ISIS has claimed responsibility for this attack.
Now, as we put -- as we try and make some sense of all of these and get the facts. So bear in your mind please as you and I go through the next hour
together. This is happening at the moment. And what we may tell you one moment, it might have to change the next. We do our best to confirm the
But obviously, it's a very fluid situation with the incident, a lot of happening even as we're speaking and things will change. So as we need to
change things and to correct, or at least amplify, we of course shout here (ph).
So CNN's Ivan Watson reports and extensively from Bangladesh in the region. He's live in Turkey where he's been covering, Tuesday, Istanbul attacks.
And now, first of all, before we talk about this attack, give me a bit of perspective about the wave of targeted killings which seemed to be very
specific versus this particular attack of which we don't know too much about at the moment, Ivan.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There has been a wave, a phenomenon of targeted machete (ph) murders, basically small groups of men often on
motorcycles who hunt down their opponents, their victims like prey and in many cases have cut them down in broad daylight with machete.
The targets have ranged from atheist bloggers and seculars, writers, and publishers, to LGBT activists, to members of non-Muslim religious
minorities and even a Sufi Muslim cleric about a year and a half ago, two years ago to an Italian aide worker last year in Dhaka to a Japanese
businessmen on the outskirts of Dhaka.
In the case of many of these murders, there have been claims of responsibilities from groups, either affiliating themselves with ISIS or
with al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent. After a terrifying home invasion in April, Richard, which resulted in the deaths of two LGBT activists, one
of whom worked for the U.S. embassy, the U.S. ambassador to Dhaka announced that diplomats had tracked at least 35 similar attaches over a period of 14
months. That's what -- that was the figure back in April according to the U.S. embassy and she said that 25 of those attacks had been claimed by
terrorist groups. Now, in June, the Bangladeshi government went on the offensive. It conducted mass sweeps detaining more than 14,000 people.
And it's rarely putting blame not on ISIS or al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent but on the main opposition political party in the country
which responded claiming that the detentions were part of a political with hunt of the opposition.
So you've got political polarization in the country as well as this frightening wave of targeted murders that have prompted many atheist and
secularist writers to go either on the ground in Bangladesh or to simply just leave the country. And that is the trend that we've seen. If this
turns out to be a Jihadist-inspired attack, and we don't know yet at this point, Richard.
[16:05:01] It's important to point that out. If it does turn out to be a Jihadist-inspired attack, it would be a complete departure in the tactics -
WATSON: -- and the strategy of terrorism and violence that we've been following in Bangladesh over the past two years.
QUEST: And that was going to be my next questions, Ivan. And the murders that we've seen so far, those targeted murders, whether it's like LGBT --
against LGBT members of the community, they are specific, they are targeted and unlikely are not believed to be, if you like, ISIS-related. If this is
ISIS and it is confirmed in that sense, then it is worrying development in Bangladesh.
WATSON: Absolutely terrifying and that's what the eyewitnesses and the residents of Dhaka that we've been speaking through as a network for the
past -- throughout the past several hours I've been saying that this is really a frightening development coming on top of this other kind of wave
of terror and murders that has been increasingly worrying people in that country. It would be a dramatic escalation, a major challenge for the
And part of the problem here has been that the Bangladeshi government has firmly held by its stated position that none of the murders are the works
of either al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent or ISIS. It has repeatedly, repeatedly declared that all of these acts of violence in the past have
been the work of homegrown extremist groups. And that makes it a bit hard to imagine how you carry out investigative or preventative security
measures when you can't come to agreement on who's actually carrying out the violence, Richard.
QUEST: Stay with me, Ivan Watson. Well, just half of an eyewitness, Sherman Hussein (ph) I believe is on the line at the moment. And Sherman
Hussein (ph), let's just test the connection. Can you hear me?
SHERMAN HUSSEIN, EYEWITNESS (via telephone): Hi, yes. I can hear you.
QUEST: Oh, good. Good. So tell us what you saw and what you heard?
HUSSEIN: Sure. Some I'm actually staying on the same road as the restaurant that was attacked. So we're just about a five-minute walk. So
we heard the gunshots from our balcony at around 10:00 p.m. tonight. And I have cousin (inaudible) that there had been an attack that's at place. So
we learned, you know, that there was a hostage situation. And as it happens, my cousin actually has four friends who are inside being held
hostage right now. So it's tense. We're very worried.
QUEST: OK. Now, let's now -- let me. I just want to be absolutely clear here. So you're telling me that your cousin knows - and obviously our
sympathies and thoughts and feelings to you and to your cousin. But to be clear so thus there is a confusion, your cousin actually has four people in
the -- at the moment, we don't want to know who they are, we don't want to know the circumstances. I'm just clarifying the fact.
HUSSEIN: Correct. It's a very local restaurant. It's very popular amongst young people. So, you know, it's a place that they frequent --
that they go to frequently. So yes, he does have four friends inside.
QUEST: And it might sound fairly obvious question, but I'm assuming that none of them have managed to get any form of message out, text out, want
stuff out or anything like that.
HUSSEIN: No, nothing.
QUEST: You've not heard anything from them about the situation in there.
HUSSEIN: No, nothing.
QUEST: I see. And the -- this particular area to view us including myself who are not familiar with them. Give me -- I mean I'm being told that it's
a diplomatic compound or a diplomatic area. What sort of place is it?
HUSSEIN: So it's called Gulshan, this neighborhood. It's known as being a very posh slightly more upscale neighborhood and it got tons of
restaurants. So it's basically placed where people come to socialize. And you have to remember, it's also Ramadan right now. So this is the time
when people go out to eat, especially on a Friday night.
So the restaurant would have been more crowded than usual I would think because, you know, people are outside breaking their fast, so eating
afterwards and, you know, socializing with their friends. So it's a place that's really -- it's filled with expats but it's also very popular with
the locals and Gulshan itself.
QUEST: And with that in mind, would it be the sort of place that people in the diplomatic community would meet expats and would also go?
[16:10:05] HUSSEIN: Yes. So it's very popular with expats and foreigners, this neighborhood in general is.
QUEST: When you say you heard gunshots and gunfire at 10:00 p.m. or around about 10:00 p.m., did you hear any explosions because we have heard reports
that explosives were sort of lobbed, or rolled, or sent, or thrown towards the police. Did you hear anything about that?
HUSSEIN: Actually, yes. We heard some kind of explosion and we weren't sure. When my cousin came up and said there had been some kind of attack,
we were speculating whether it had been a bomb because it did sound like that. So, yes, we did.
QUEST: I guess, bearing in mind the attacks against members of the gay community and secular attacks. You've always been aware of current
dangers, but this is something quite different. How do you react to that? What's happening tonight?
HUSSEIN: I think we've all been seeing an alarming rise in radicalism in Bangladesh. But, you know, they've been kind o attacks targeted towards
individuals. And this is an attack that's not towards any particular individual but a group, you know, of people -- a group of people eating at
restaurant. So it's not really clear who the target is, what these attackers are trying to do here. So it's very new and it's very alarming
for us to see something like this, especially in a neighborhood that is still popular. It's kind of -- we're all just stunned that it could take
place so close to home.
QUEST: Ms. Hussein (ph), thank you for talking to us. And of course, where we are, Sherman Hussein (ph), we are thinking of your cousin and his
friends. And when there's more to report or when you're too humble, please do come back to us and we'll take you here to bring us the latest details.
We thank you for joining us.
We go to New Delhi next where Sumnima Udas, of course, one of the latest. Just listening to that, we (inaudible) Sherman Hussein (ph) confirming the
gunfire, confirming the explosion, confirming the nature of the area. What can you tell me about who might be responsible?
SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN CORRESPODENT: Well, we understand the ISIS has claimed responsibility for this attack, but I have to say that in the past ISIS has
claimed responsibility for many of the attacks against bloggers, against secular writers, against people from the LGBT community. And every time
they've done that, the government has always denied the ISIS is present in Bangladesh and has always attributed these attacks to homegrown militants.
And in fact, just in the past few weeks, they've arrested a number of people I would say actually tens of thousands of people about 10,000 to
15,000 people have been arrested in the past few weeks alone. A lot of them from the opposition party, a lot of them, they claimed homegrown
militants. So ISIS has taken responsibility but we'll have to get more clarity on that.
Now, of course, four hours on, this is still a very much ongoing hostage situation, the police have been talking to the gunmen, the gunmen haven't
made any demands yet, but we know that two police offers have died, they were wounded in that operation, and 40 people have been injured. Richard?
QUEST: And so here's the question that I think we need to put some perspective into. What and why would ISIS be attacking in these particular
restaurants, in this particular city, in this particular country? What -- I mean besides the general anti-western view for ISIS, what is the specific
issue with Bangladesh if they have one?
UDAS: Well, for any group, terrorist group, if you're going to attach Bangladesh and if you're going to try to get as much publicity as you can,
then this would really be the area you would target because it's this diplomatic area with a lot of expats, also restaurants, lots of foreigners.
That's where an Italian expat was killed just back in September. A month later, Japanese expat was killed as well. So if you're going target
Bangladesh in any way, then this would be the right area.
Now, in the past, we've seen a lot of attacks against individuals, atheist bloggers, writers, ISIS has claimed responsibility for a lot of those
attacks as well then there's been attacks against more sort of unknown people like Hindu tailor or Buddhist nun, a Hindu police.
[16:14:59] A Hindu police was killed just yesterday in Bangladesh. And even then, ISIS has claimed responsibility. So we don't know why ISIS
would attack Bangladesh but we do know that al Qaeda, the subcontinent version of al Qaeda, is present in Bangladesh, but the Bangladeshi leaders
have always said that ISIS is not present in Bangladesh.
QUEST: All right. Sumnima Udas, thank you, in New Delhi. Stay with us. Of course, we will be -- we want to have the latest when you've got it. So
please come back to me immediately.
It is coming up to (inaudible) allow me to update to you on the latest breaking news of the very valent hostage situation in Dhaka in Bangladesh.
It's quarter to 2:00 in the morning there. You've just heard from one eyewitness who was telling us that she had gunshot wounds, and so gunshots
and an explosion about 10:00 p.m. We now believe that governor gunmen are holding around 20 people hostage at the Holey Artisan Bakery. It's in the
diplomatic upscale at market quarter of Dhaka. What our eyewitness described, just the push part of town. The cafe owner managed to escape
and tells us that there are six to eight gunmen that are involved. We know that -- or the police have said that two policemen have been shot dead, one
was an officer in charge of nearby station and the gunmen have thrown to the police, which has been confirmed by others.
The police say the hostage takers have made no demands, SITE Intelligence Group says, ISIS has claimed responsibility.
James Jeffrey, is the former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and Turkey, joins me now from Washington. Ambassador, and before you get to the detail of this
particular attack, I'm trying to understand why Bangladesh would be a target of ISIS in this way. Can you help me?
JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR, IRAQ AND TURKEY: Richard, there's nothing special about Bangladesh. ISIS looks to any place on the world
where there's a large Islamic community. First, it can generate -- recruit from that body of people, but secondly by doing an attack like this, a high
visibility attack, ISIS knows that it will not only get credit but it also will generate repression against much of the community by the authorities
even if there are some Muslim state they'll go after people all over that city to try to find out who did it and why.
JEFFREY: And that generates antagonism.
QUEST: But here, of course, we know that there have been numerous brutal murders of professors, Hindus, gay and lesbian or members of the community.
But this is different, so I'm wondering why you think this might have shifted.
JEFFREY: Richard, what we start in Iraq beginning in 2003 and then into 2004 was individual attacks by disorganized people who were just motivated
by the general situation. Then you see organization, then you see quasi- military operations like this, the six or eight people, and eventually you see a centrally controlled army like operation that can launch attacks,
like 9/11 or like the very complex attack that was undertaken against the Islam Boulevard (ph).
QUEST: So do you believe. And I know I'm putting you on the spot here, ambassador, but do you believe this sort of attack would have been
commanded or controlled from outside Bangladesh or are we looking at a group perhaps of homegrowners who have decided to go on a frolic of their
own under the umbrella of this Islamic tourism.
JEFFREY: It usually is a subsidiary like Boko Haram or the al Shabaab in Somalia. That identifies itself with ISIS and ISIS lays its hand on it and
says those are our brothers there that it's probably not, at this point, centrally controlled. But these links can develop more. We see this in
Libya and other places. This is happening in 10 or 15 places throughout the greater Middle East before our eyes.
QUEST: So is the security situation in Bangladesh, as we've already had and I'm sure you will agree, that where the government has singularly
refuse to connect the murder scene so far to organize terrorist activity, is the government of Bangladesh facing a major organized terrorist threat?
JEFFREY: It certainly is now. And it's adding to -- fuel to the fire by refusing to consider the growth of such a terrorist organization because
they are both police efforts that you can take and efforts to reach out to the population that they're not doing in Bangladesh.
[16:19:57] QUEST: Not only reaching out to the population or the police or the military but aligning themselves if you like to the western-led
coalition against ISIS. Where do they stand on that?
JEFFREY: Bangladesh has been careful, not to antagonize the west, but also not to take a leading role in the fight against ISIS. It's typically sad
on the fence.
QUEST: And, yes, I'm wondering, ambassador, sitting on the fence is extremely uncomfortable, especially when you have an attack of this
magnitude and ferocity. Do you think this would encourage the Bangladeshi government to come off the fence?
JEFFREY: I certainly hope so. Their job one is to try to find out why there is this developing terrorist threat amongst their people in their
capital city. Job two is to support the international community 100 percent in the bigger fight against ISIS because you have to do this at
QUEST: Right. But if there is, to take what you've just said, if there is this homegrown threats or be it with tentacles and links to ISIS outside
the country is, you know, there's no easy way to put it, but is the government up to the job? And could they even, if they wanted to, route it
out or is it so embedded do you think?
JEFFREY: Richard, that's an excellent question. The Iraqi government was incapable of that. Ten years ago, the Egyptian government has a similar
problem in the Sinai. One of the manifestations we have of the general situation in abroad, in Middle East is government set on very good at
delivering services and governing their countries, let alone, taking on very specific dangerous and well-organized terrorist threats.
QUEST: So finally, ambassador, and we're so grateful for your perspective on this tonight. The difficulty that the U.S. administration faces here,
because on the one hand, it will want to come in to try and assist, or to offer cover, or offer resources, be it military or intelligence perhaps,
but on the other hand that could be exactly what of course exacerbated from the other side. What would you, if you were ambassador, what would you be
JEFFREY: Number one, intelligence cooperation. Number two, high-level personal, quiet, underlying quiet contacts by the secretary of state and
Defense National Security advisor, president, vice president with the top leadership to couch them and to urge them on. A tendency is to wait until
it's too late and then go and then try and train the whole country into Canada. That won't happen there any place else. We won't make it a lot
more effective. But on the margins, we can be helpful if we use good diplomacy, if we're careful, and if we don't flash for this all over the
QUEST: Ambassador James Jeffrey, we are so grateful that you come along this evening and given us the perspective that we needed to hear about
tonight. Thank you, sir.
JEFRREY: Thank you.
QUEST: Now, we carry on with Ivan Watson. And Ivan has been covering attacks on minorities in Bangladesh over the past few months. He joins me
now from Istanbul. I was listening to you and I'm sure you were listening to the ambassador just then on what he was saying and it is -- OK let --
for the purposes of what we're going to talk about, even though it's not confirmed or we don't know, but let's assume it's ISIS. What happens next,
WATSON: You know, this is still a deadly hostage situation. So, we -- this is such a delicate and frightening situation. So that's one thing to
keep an eye on. Let's take a look at what the Bangladeshi government has been doing.
In December it sentenced a couple of people convicted of killing a blogger in 2013 to death. Since then it has sentenced a prominent Islamist leader
that -- to death that it has accused of war crimes committed during the awful Civil War, what Bangladesh has called the War of Independence that
was fought in the '70s to break off from Pakistan. That has gone under criticism from human rights organizations and from political analyst who
claim that the crack on the main opposition party in the country and the main Islamist party in the country is pushing Islamist to the extremes.
In June, the government carried out crack down a massive raids and detentions of thousands and thousands of suspects. More than 14,000 people
according to government reports that was in early June.
[16:24:50] If it turns out that this was an operation carried out by ISIS or al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent or by some other homegrown group,
Jihadi inspired group, it will show that the Bangladeshi government's efforts to crack down on extremist organizations has failed. And that in
fact, they have responded by ramping up, by escalating their tactics and the way they are carrying out attacks.
In all of the grizzly series of murders, machete murders we've seen, the murderers had never stuck around, Richard, to stay on the scene. They have
fled and in some cases the suspects have been caught by police afterwards. But these men, who ever these gunmen are not fleeing the scene. They're
staying on their ground, they're holding ground, they're holding hostages, and they're fighting back against the police, and killing police, at least
two so far. Richard.
QUEST: Now, Ivan, just clarify for me the strategic difference if there is a difference and in your political sense, if it is al Qaeda as you've been
talking about or ISIS which where -- there is circle claim of responsibility. What difference would that make strategically?
WATSON: Yes, you know, ISIS is the newer kid on the block. It is also the newer organization that managed for the first time to really capture
territory, hold territory, declare what it calls an Islamic caliphate. And in some ways has eclipse al Qaeda which is an older generation of extremist
Islamist organization. And the two have been at odd.
And what we've seen on the ground in Bangladesh, this South Asian country which has -- is nominally secular, majority Muslim, does have a problem
with widespread poverty. And what we've seen is acts of violence being carried out for several years now and a competition between groups, between
murderers claiming to be acting on behalf of ISIS and acting on behalf of al Qaeda. So, you've got that competition taking place.
If in fact this turns out to be an ISIS attack, well, in this -- just evil competition then you could argue ISIS would have taken the upper hand over
al Qaeda in this country of Bangladesh.
But with all the caveats there, Richard, that we don't know who has carried out this attack yet. We haven't even heard any demands from the hostage
takers so far.
QUEST: And I'm glad and grateful, Ivan, that you do bring us back to the nature of what we are reporting tonight and the uncertainty of the details.
Ivan Watson will be with this of course throughout the whole hour from the (inaudible). And that is very important point that we need to remember.
And we don't know who's behind it. \ We've got this, maybe, some would say as purest claim of responsibility by ISIS. All we do know is that I -- it's belief six to eight gunmen have
used gunfire and taken hostages up to 20 hostages in a cafe, a bakery actually in Dhaka, in the diplomatic, and deep market for area of the city.
And we'll take a short break. When we come back I give you more details because the news --
[16:30:52] QUEST: Welcome back. I'm Richard Quest. The BREAKING NEWS coverage of the hostage situation in Dhaka continues tonight. Twenty
people are being held hostage by gunmen at a bakery in the diplomatic and up scale quarter of Dhaka in Bangladesh.
The cafe owner, himself, managed to escape and tell CNN that six to eight gunmen are believed to be involved. We do know that two policemen have
been shot dead. One was the officer in charge near by station and it's believe that the 14 other people have been injured by gunshot wounds
(inaudible), and gunmen threw explosives at the police.
The police say the hostage takers have made no demands. Amaq which is an ISIS media branch is claiming that responsibility.
So we spent. I mean in the absence of more details of what's going on, and remember one of our eyewitnesses did say she heard the gunshots and heard
the explosions at around 10:00 local time.
And Thomas Joscelyn is the senior editor at the Long War Journal, which tracks Jihadi groups worldwide, senior fellow as well at the Foundation of
Defense and Democracies. And he is with me live from California.
And Thomas Joscelyn, the claim -- the very early claim that we have had, do you give a credence and credibility?
THOMAS JOSCELYN, SENIOR EDITOR, LONG WAR JOURNAL: Well, the claim is legitimate because it comes through an official propaganda army of Islamic
state. So the claim is definitely legitimate in that regards.
I would say this is about the claim. So far, they have not provided any details that you can't already know from press reporting. So there's
nothing in the claim so far that says that they have full knowledge of this, so they knew the specific attackers, or they knew the details of the
So we have to have that caveat very clearly upfront. But the claim is legitimate in terms of coming from an official arm of the Islamic state.
QUEST: Right. So the right people have made the -- I mean like the right people have made the claim whether they're telling the truth or whether
they did it is still not confirmed, is what you're saying.
But the -- when we look at -- go ahead, please. Go on.
JOSCELYN: I was going to say, you know, usually Amaq is accurate in their claims. So that doesn't mean 100 percent at a time. But usually when they
claim something, they have some knowledge or they have some reason for them doing so that puts it within the Islamic state's orbit.
And, you know, I'm reminded here, this attack to me is somewhat similar to what happened to Jakarta, you know, just in January. Because there, you
had attackers, gunmen attacked a cafe, a Starbucks actually in a diplomatic area, western area of Jakarta where they went and they (inaudible). And,
you know, authorities there in Jakarta said that they detected that actually there were links back all way to Raqqa that actually there was an
Indonesian sort of operatively Islamic state. They have been in touch with that cell that they carry out the operation. We don't know that's the case
here in Bangladesh so far. But throwing out there is sort of warning that basically there could be operational ties here between these attackers in
Dhaka and back to the mothership.
QUEST: Would you expect this to be an off-shoot of ISIS or the part of the main body?
JOSCELYN: You know, the situation is very fluid because they have a lot of foreign fighters in a lot of different countries. And what that did is
they provide them with the recruiting poll to basically establish arms of different countries.
So for example in Libya, that is direct arm of the mothership. You know, in Sinai, that's a direct arm of the mothership. Yes, they mentioned in
Jakarta there's evidence that attack was actually carried out by the sort of central commander or ordered by elements of essential command in Raqqa.
That's a possibility here in Bangladesh. Or we don't know, this could be just sort of a group that's basically claiming Islamic state's name.
However, I'll say this, going back to last year, we've seen, you know, probably more than two dozen attacks in ow Bangladesh claimed by fighters
professing their loyalty to Islamic state. I think that that's a warning a sign that the operational capability had been built up over the past some
months. And so something like this was basically coming.
[16:34:52] QUEST: Right. Now, on those attacks, the attacks we've seen so far, isolated to some extent, individual usually attacking a Hindu, or gay
person, and brutal in nature using axes and basically garroting. And this is very different though, isn't it? This is quantumly different.
JOSCELYN: Yes, this is an operational step forward, no doubt about it. I will look at what came before this, which was carried out by the local arm
of al Qaeda in the subcontinent and also by foreign fighters professing their loyalty to Islamic state is sort of building up to something like
But when I look at the data or look at those attacks building up to this attack today, is it basically as a warning signs that they have muscle in
place, operators in place they can possibly do the sort of thing.
You know, one of the things you're going to hear, and I'm listening to your broadcast, your authorities in Bangladesh sort of downplay the operational
ties to al Qaeda or al Qaeda's presence or the Islamic State's presence.
I think that's a big mistake. You know, we've documented on the al Qaeda side that in fact this is -- going back two to three years now, Al-Qaeda
has been building up its presence in Bangladesh, trying to build up its arm there. And I think the Islamic state what they've been doing is basically
poaching from the recruiting poll that al Qaeda has built to have their own operative sort of in place.
QUEST: Thomas Joscelyn, we are grateful for your perspective tonight, a senior editor at the Long War Journal.
Our law enforcement is Tom Fuentes is in Washington. Tom, we need your guidance and help here because listening to what the ambassador was saying
and Ivan Watson was saying and now Mr. Joscelyn was saying, and this will be giving a defense on what the White House and the state extremely pause
and cause for concern tonight.
TOM FUENTES, CNN CORRESPODENT: Absolutely, there should be concern all over the world, Richard. And, you know, what we've talked about over the
last year with the attacks in Europe, in Paris, in Brussels, and the attacks in the U.S, we've talked about the foreign fighters that went from
Europe, from the U.S, Canada, Australia, to join ISIS, to learn how to fight from ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
We haven't heard a lot about that, but tens of thousands that went from Asia itself from the Philippines, from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand,
Bangladesh that went Syria and also learn to fight with ISIS. And then while there, they're in a position to establish personal relationships with
the leadership in Raqqa or other parts of Syria and Iraq. And in making those contacts, it get set up for possibly encrypted communications so they
could go home to Bangladesh and get instructions to do an attack and the authorities would not be able to follow it.
QUEST: Right. Now, with that in mind, Tom Fuentes, the Iraqi military backed up by coalition assistance and intelligence has had strategic gains,
in say for example, taking back Fallujah recently and the prospect of Mosul on the horizon.
Would you see any connection with Iraqi advances and this sort of upscaling if you like of these attacks?
FUENTES: Well, possibly. And of course terrorism occurs because you can't win at the ballot box or win on the battle field. So you fight with
terrorist activities. And that's, you know, that's -- we're going to see that also happen and probably increase. But you also have those worldwide
networks now. And, you know we quarantine Zika and Ebola and other viruses. We can't quarantine the sitiology and this has become an
ideological pandemic for the entire world to deal with.
QUEST: Which brings me to my last question in some ways. Many viewer is watching us tonight. And who are by no means familiar with the nuances of
the different groups concerned or the Islamic terrorism involved. But they will be sitting there saying, "Are we powerless to do anything against
this?" Whether it's Brussels, or Paris, or Jakarta, or now Bangladesh, are we just powerless?
FUENTES: That's a great question. And if the mighty United States, and the French, and the Belgians, and the U.K, if they can't bring a halt to
this, what do we expect that of a countries like Bangladesh that don't have the resources, don't have the ability and have political reasons why they
don't want to acknowledge that this is either ISIS or Al-Qaeda or one of the extremist Islamic groups. And that sounds kind of familiar to what the
U.S. policy is. Let's don't mention them by name and give them too much credit.
QUEST: Tom Fuentes always good to have your perspective. Please don't go too far away as development happens during the course of the evening.
We're going to need you more. We're going to need you more and more. Thank you very much.
FUENTES: Thank you.
QUEST: And allow me to bring you up to date with the recap that's happening now.
[16:40:00] A CNN stringer in the region says that 30 Bangladesh Naval commanders are now on the scene. Although the police have said the hostage
takers have made no demands so far. Amaq, which is an ISIS media branch is claiming responsibility. Now, Amaq is, you know, the sort of place where
one would hear the claim of responsibility, but whether it's a genuine claim, it's of course still up for grabs and is by no mean certain.
What are those commanders looking at? Well, they're looking at the situation where gunmen are holding 20 people hostage at a bakery. It's in
a diplomatic quarter in Dhaka. The cafe owner managed to escape. He told us that there are six to eight gunmen who shot their way in.
In doing so, they killed two policemen, one was an officer-in-charge of a local station, the nearby station, and at least 40 are injured by gunshot
wounds and sharp nail. The gunmen then threw explosives at the police.
So let's go and talk to Charu Lata Hogg who is on the line now. And first of all, tell me where are you and you are the Associate Fellow of Asia
Program at Chatham House in London. I now know where you are. You're joining us via Skype. And thank you.
When you hear the sort of facts that we are reporting this evening, what's your initial thoughts?
CHARU LATA HOGG, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, my initial thought is that the fault for this, we do not know who's responsibility. We have a
group who's claimed responsibility, the facts will still need to be determined. But when something like this happens inevitably, the
government in question has to look back and how it's responded to such violence in the bus.
Now, the track record of this particular government or indeed the previous government, the opposition government, the government that is -- the party
that is in opposition now has not been very good. You know, in terms of we've seen state of attacks against bloggers, the media, writers, political
activist and none have been investigated fully and a handful of those have been prosecuted in fact.
QUEST: All right. All right.
HOGG: So you see, it is a breakdown in the rule of law. This is an attack on democracy and the government bears some responsibility.
QUEST: So why -- tell us why would the government not investigate. Again, for those of us not familiar with internal politics and machinations of the
Bangladeshi government versus its opposition, why would they not wish to investigate what have been some of the most brutal murders by axes and
knives against professors, and just all the people, why wouldn't they?
HOGG: Well, it's a very -- the reason for this, when has to look back into the past, into a very uncertain political tradition in Bangladesh which
sets between circulars on one hand and increasing the radicalized religious sentimental on the other.
So why would the Awami League government not respond to a threat or the rise in an extremist Islam? It wouldn't because it has a certain political
lobby, all clientele to keep happy, because if it doesn't, the lines, the fault lines, within Bangladesh politics become very, very clear and mocked.
The Bangladesh National Party, which is in the opposition at the moment, has conventionally been regarded a party, which is closely link to the
Jamaat-e-Islami and therefore has a predominant control over the population which believes in a more accentuated Islamic street, while the Awami
League, which is currently in power, has been a more secular party. However, by taking action against those who are attacking circularis, it is
also then put to -- clamping down heavily on the growing Islamic sentence (ph) within the country.
QUEST: We'll come back in a moment or three. Thank you very much for that update and for putting that into perspective for us some time. Thank you
And the situation as you're gathering now is extremely complicated. It is not only complicated politically and diplomatically and, if you like
geopolitically, it seems to be, this evening, extremely complicated on the ground, not least of which now because hostages have been taken and that
the authorities have not received any demands from them, so we believe.
[16:45:01] Sumnima Udas in New Delhi has been reviewing the latest facts since we last spoke to you. What more can you tell us?
UDAS: Richard, six hours on so very much in ongoing hostage situation. The police say that they are -- that the assailants haven't made any
demands at the moment. They have explosives and they have been throwing explosives at the police as well. We know, that there's a very large
presence of police officers at the ground as we can expect. Right now, according to the cafe owner, who managed to escape, there're about 20
people inside that cafe when those attackers stormed. And some of them are foreigners. He said there about six to eight gunmen from what we can tell,
those gunmen are still there, two policemen from the Bangladeshi police have died from their wounds during the operation. Richard?
QUEST: OK. So with this mind and without giving away operational details, Sumnima, do we know any more about the options that are available?
Obviously, one looks for some formal negotiation or at least for some form of demand from the hostage takers.
UDAS: That's right. The police had said early that they were tying to resolve this issue peacefully. Now, again, as we've motioned there have
been no demands from the attackers. We don't know what exactly is going on at the moment and what the police will do next. We understand there was
various security forces on the ground at the moment but what they will do next, we do not know. What we do know, of course, is that this cafe, this
restaurant, which is a bakery during the daytime and a restaurant during the evenings, this was a very popular spot for lots of expats, and also for
a lot of wealthy Bangladeshis.
This is of course in one of the most of excellent parts of Bangladesh, there's lots of five-star hotels there, lots of cafes, restaurants. And of
course this is the last Friday of Ramadan, so we can expect a lot of people would have been in the area at the time. We've seen many attacks that
we've been reporting in the past, many attacks against atheist, bloggers, writers, people from the LGBT community, police from minority groups. But
we've never seen anything like this at least in the past five years. Richard?
QUEST: Sumnima, thank you. We are going to take one of the developments that I can see that's happening, a statement from John Kirby at the State
Department and regarding the attack, joining the people of Bangladesh and expressing outrage at the State Department in Washington at this brutal
The U.S. Embassy has confirmed and Dhaka has confirmed 100 percent accountability of all official American personnel with no injuries. They
cannot confirm the ISIS claimed of responsibility to Amaq. And we are in ongoing contact with the government of Bangladesh. We've offered our
assistance in their efforts to bring to justice those responsible. So that's -- forgive me for looking down when I was reading but that statement
from State Department staff, from John Kirby, the State Department Spokesman.
The police say that hostage takers have made no demands despite what the State Department is having as Amaq is claiming respon -- that ISIS claims
responsibility. And overall, the crucial fact at this hour is that gunmen are still holding 20 people hostage at the bakery in a diplomatic quarter
in Dhaka in Bangladesh. The cafe owner escaped and told us that there are six to eight gunmen.
So far, we know that two policeman had been shot dead, one was the officer- in-charge and 40 more injured by gunshot wounds and sharp nail when the gunmen threw explosives.
To put this into perspective what is happening, Fayad Munaim (ph) was two blocks away from the violence and he talked to us a short while ago and
told Hala Gorani what he saw and what he heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAYAD MUNAIM, EYEWITNESS: I was in the balcony around 9:00 p.m. and there was three loud blasts that sounded like gunfire.
HALA GORANI, INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: So you heard three loud blasts --
GORANI: -- and sounded like bombs, sounded perhaps like gunfire from a weapon being fired, is that what you're saying?
MUNAIM: Yes. It was definitely gunfire. It wasn't a bomb blast.
[16:49:57] GORANI: Describe the area to us. We're talking here about a bakery called the Holey Artisan Bakery. Could you describe the area for
MUNAIM: Yes, this whole area is residential. It's actually considered highbrow. A lot of expats live here. It's diplomatic area, a lot of
embassies. Holey Artisan is a bakery and around 6 p.m. onwards it turns into restaurant called O'Kitchen. It's a very high-end restaurant. It's a
special restaurant. It caters a lot of expats go there. This basically markets high-end clienteles. I think it's a --
GORANI: So it's a kind of a --
GORANI: As you say, it's an international clientele, a diplomatic area, you might have foreign workers, diplomats, highbrow kind of neighborhood is
what you're saying.
GORANI: So just to sum up, what you heard from where you are two blocks away, three blasts that sounded like three shots from a weapon and then a
very loud explosion. How many minutes after the gunshots did you hear the explosion?
MUNAIM: I would say about a half hour.
GORANI: OK. And you're saying that was definitely not gunfire based on what you could tell.
MUNAIM: It's not gunfire. No, it was not.
GORANI: Are you hearing any police activity right now? Can you see anything from where you're standing, where you're looking out your window?
MUNAIM: Right now, it's gotten really quiet. Just standing around and not really doing anything. It's just like (inaudible) action but I think
they've removed all the T.V. reporters in the area.
MUNAIM: We can't get any live coverage. So really, all I can see is standing around and doing nothing right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: So that's the eyewitness who was just talking to us short while ago. And what we know so far is that police say hostage takers have made
no demands to those -- Amaq is an ISIS media branch is claiming responsibility for ISIS.
What we know, and bearing in mind, this is a situation happening at the moment in Dhaka in Bangladesh where just about maybe a few hours ago,
gunmen are holding 20 people hostage at a bakery in the diplomatic quarter in the city.
The cafe owner, who managed to escaped, told us there's six to eight gunmen there. We've been talking to the various analyst and experts who have put
us into perspective, who basically say that even though there has been series of brutal murders against individuals, Hindus, gays, and the likes,
which the Bangladeshi government has singly refused to link to an organized terrorism. They say, if this is ISIS, then it is a quantum leap in the way
in which the terrorist organization is now integrating. But they can't say -- nobody can say with certainty has indeed the state department has said
tonight out of Washington, they cannot confirm it.
Lori Ann Walsh Imdad is the principle of the American Standard International School in Dhaka. She's about a block away from the
restaurant and a short time ago she spoke to Hala Gorani.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORI ANN WALSH IMDAD, EYEWITNESS (via telephone): What I heard was gunfire.
GORANI: And are you still just about a block away right now? Are you still able to hear anything?
IMDAD: Yes, I'm out on my balcony right now. I can see the reporters have moved away so there must be something going on closer to the restaurant.
There's only a few people just hanging out at this moment.
GORANI: I just want to make sure that if you're on your balcony and you're a block away, are you sure it's safe to be out there?
IMDAD: Well, I've been very careful as far as taking a look at the balcony. I don't stand there for a long, so.
GORANI: OK. When you do look out, and just make sure you're not visible or too visible, what do you see?
IMDAD: No, no, I turn the lights off inside so that no one can really see that I'm out there.
GORANI: That's a good call. What do you see when you're on your -- when you actually do pop out on your balcony?
IMDAD: Well, up until just now, there was about a crowd of about 30 people standing at the end of my road and they looked mostly like media reporters.
And there's a white van that also look like that a media van that the people then walking back and forth. And then there's police on the road as
GORANI: You're still seeing a crowd of about 30 people at the end of your street. How close to the restaurant would that be?
IMDAD: That's -- I would say that's within 20 feet to the restaurant.
[16:55:00] GORANI: And they're still there, clustered 20 feet away?
IMDAD: Yes. I mean, right now, no, but just before you call, they were still standing there. So I don't know if they've moved over closer to the
restaurant to get more information form the police they are closer, which is what I assume that's what going on.
GORANI: And just last question, what kind of police presence are you able to witness from where you are?
IMDAD: It's pretty heavy. I mean I've seen at least three or four people standing on the sidewalk right adjacent to where -- the end of my road is.
So normally, we don't have police except at residences of diplomats in this area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Lisa Garges (ph), former CIA analyst, she joins us on the phone from Washington. Lisa (ph), just a couple of moments to talk to. But what
do you make of these developments tonight?
LISA GARGES, FORMER CIA ANALYST: Well, I think it's not surprising the see this major terrorist attack. If you've been watching Bangladesh over the
last few years, the extremist threat has really been brewing there. We've seen a series of attacks against liberal bloggers, writers, publicists,
members of the religious minority and what we've seen are both ISIS and the al Qaeda have been claiming responsibility for these attacks. Some of the
attacks that have been claimed by ISIS have been attacks against international aide workers last fall as well as an attack on the Shia
procession during --
GARGES: I think, you know, this is not surprising although this attack it is much more involved, complex than we've seen over the last couple of
QUEST: Does it make a difference strategically if it was ISIS or al Qaeda?
GARGES: I don't think it does. Because what appears to be happening is there's almost a competition between these two groups. You know, ISIS has
been featuring Bangladesh in its flagship magazine Dabiq, so they are clearly -- they see an opportunity, they see Bangladesh as a target of
opportunity because of the political polarization there, the weak law and order situation. And then we see al Qaeda when Zawahiri launched al Qaeda
in the Indian subcontinent in 2014, he specifically mentioned Bangladesh as a country where al Qaeda, you know, would be focusing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so, I don't it's surprising that this is happening and I think there is some level of competition between these two
QUEST: All right. Lisa Garges (ph), grateful for your analysis, much appreciate that. We will continue with much more and we have to watch more
of the developments. Our correspondents are now heading out to bring you more details of the hostage situation in Dhaka where 20 hostages are being
held by six to eight gunmen where there's been a claim of responsibility from ISIS. Around the world, around the clock, this is CNN.