It is very difficult estimating how many Bangladeshis went to Syria - or in their language, 'performed the hijrah' - to fight for Islamic State (IS). We also have no idea about the exact number of Bangladeshis who have died in the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.
We only know the number of Bangladeshis who are hailed by IS as “martyrs who died in the service of the khilafah”. With the release of the latest Bengali propaganda video from IS-affiliated Furat Media, that number now stands at three.
Neaz Morshed Raja, who took the kunya Abu Maryam al-Bengali, emigrated to 'the land of the khilafah' sometime in March 2015. He died later that year while carrying out a suicide bombing mission targeting Iraqi forces near the city of Tikrit.
The date of his death as given in the Furat video is Zil-Hajj 28, 1436 - or October 12, 2015. So why is IS releasing his martyrdom statement now? That remains a puzzle.
[caption id="attachment_52998" align="alignleft" width="211"] Md Ashequr Rahman alias Jilani had the kuniya Abu Jandal al-Bangali, according to IS' Dabiq magazine published in April 2014
Before Morshed, another Bangladeshi was the subject of a hagiography in IS’ Dabiq magazine. The story of Ashiqur Rahman Jilani, who took the kunya Abu Jandal al-Bangali, was prominently featured in the fourteenth issue of Dabiq, in the 'Among the believers are men' section.
Like Morshed, Jilani enlisted as an istihadi (suicide) fighter when arriving in IS territory. He died, however, during a regular battle near the Syrian town of Ayn Issa. The exact date of his death remains unknown.
Also unknown is the real name of the first Bangladeshi 'martyr' of IS. His kunya was Abu Dujana al-Bengali (the same kunya was later taken by Tamim Chowdhury).
[caption id="attachment_53000" align="alignright" width="300"] Siful Haque Sujan
According to one of the earliest Bengali propaganda videos produced by Furat Media, Abu Dujana was a Bangladeshi migrant worker who was on his way to Lebanon before being detained as a suspected terrorist in Iraq. He became a jihadi while serving time at the Badosh prison near the city of Mosul and died sometime after his release while fighting for IS in a battle against US and Iraqi forces.
And, who was the Bangladeshi who died for IS but was never hailed as a 'martyr'?
That would be Siful Haque Sujan, who took the kunya Abu Khaled al-Bengali. Haque, the 'top ISIS hacker', was the principal architect of the militant group's cyber warfare and propaganda architecture. He was killed in a US air-strike in city of Raqqa on December 10, 2015.
Tasneem Khalil is an independent Swedish-Bangladeshi journalist.