The ARES Hoplite blog has researched and reported on a growing trend within terrorist groups in Bangladesh using .22 LR cosmetically similar Kalashnikov blowback rifles to carry out violent attacks. This particular attack was carried out on the Holey Artisan Bakery on July 17 2016 and was the most violent terrorist operation to have taken place in Bangladesh so far. ARES has put forth research indicating that the rifles were locally made in Bangladesh, possibly with help from Pakistani gunmakers in Dharra Adam Khel, the notoriously famous home gun-making village in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Previously firearms in Dharra Adam Khel were very localized, most of the usage within Pakistan and Afghanistan. This example is one of the first to show the “weaponizing” of local gunmaking abilities. The fact that Pakistani gunmakers traveled to Bangladesh indicates a larger operation on the part of the terrorists there. I personally find this odd, as acquiring small arms on the local black markets would seem logistically much easier than resorting to producing them locally. The weapon is known locally as the AK-22. From ARES-
The weapons are cosmetically similar to the Kalashnikov series of rifles, appearing somewhat similar in size to the compact AKS-74U. Variants featuring both side-folding and telescoping wire and sheet metal stocks have been identified. Despite the visual similarity to AK type rifles, the weapons are mechanically much closer to simple sub-machine gun designs such as the British STEN, firing from an open-bolt with a simple lever sear trigger mechanism and having relatively few moving parts. The weapons are capable of automatic fire and use high capacity magazines of various sizes, which may also be craft-produced. Variations in quality and finish can be observed, with some examples being clearly hand painted and assembled with cheap Phillips head screws, while others appear to be blued and assembled with rivets or Allen head bolts. This likely suggests that designs are improvised from materials at hand, and may indicated the work of multiple gunsmiths or groups.
India’s National Investigation Agency have reportedly learned through police interviews with a suspected operative of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) that Pakistani gunsmiths had visited the district of Malda to train local gunsmiths in the production of AK-22 sub-machine guns. The gunsmiths who received assistance were from Munger in Bihar, a region notorious for the widespread production of locally made single-shot ‘katta’ pistols, supplemented by relatively sophisticated self-loading handguns in more recent years. Officials suspect that the Pakistani gunsmiths who visited were from Darra Adam Khel in the Northwest Frontier Province, famed for its production of high quality copies of military small arms.
However, surprisingly or unsurprisingly the caliber of .22 LR is the most interesting development, and from a terrorist point of view, it would actually make sense. The terrorists aren’t necessarily worried about penetrating body armor, as they know they are going to be overwhelmed by security forces at the conclusion of any siege. Thus, they simply need something to temporarily hold off security forces, and of course to fulfill the disgusting and twisted plan of killing hostages.
Everyone doubts the diminutive .22 LR cartridge, but in this case it took over 100 security forces to overcome six .22 LR armed terrorists. The IDF has also made use of the .22 LR cartridge in a tactical role.