Dhaka, July 8 (IANS) Bangladesh Police on Saturday arrested a militant of the banned Neo JMB outfit who is claimed to be one of the masterminds of the Gulshan café terror attack and headed the JMB unit based in India’s West Bengal state, media reports said.
The arrested militant Sohel Mahfuz is wanted in India for an October 2014 explosion in a house in Khagragarh in Burdwan district of West Bengal. India’s National Investigation Agency has placed a Rs 10 lakh bounty on him, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit arrested Sohel Mahfuz and three of his accomplices from a mango grove in Chapainawabganj area.
Sohel alias Hatkata Mahfuz is the top explosives specialist of Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (New JMB) and a key arms and explosives supplier for the banned outfit. He had supplied the explosives for the terror attack on the Holey Artisan bakery in July last year in which over 20 people, mostly foreigners, were killed.
He is one of the five most wanted “militants” in the attack on the bakery last year, the CTTC chief said.
The other detained are Jewel alias Ismail, Hafizur Rahman alias Hasan and Mostofa Kamal alias Jamal.
Police had been looking for Mahfuz since the July 2016 attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery.
A senior counterterrorism officer said Mahfuz used the alias Nasrullah, who the Indian police identified as one of the key suspects in the Burdwan blast, which left two killed.
“He was in India from 2009 to 2014 and was the chief of the JMB unit there. He used the alias Nasrullah,” Additional Deputy Commissioner Abdul Mannan told bdnews24.com. “India’s National Investigation Agency identified Nasrullah as the prime suspect of the blast.”
Mahfuz, who hails from the western Bangladesh district of Kushtia, used to go by several other aliases like Shahadat and Rimon, according to police.
He was also known as Hatkata Soheil after losing his right wrist.
“In 2005, he lost one of his wrists in an explosion while making bombs in Naogaon,” said counterterrorism officer Mannan.
Mahfuz was an executive member of the JMB and later joined neo-JMB, according to counterterrorism unit chief Monirul Islam.
“After being off the radar for quite some time, he joined the neo-JMB about two years ago, according to our intelligence,” Islam had told the media.
Mahfuz was ameer of JMB’s West Bengal unit from 2009 to 2014 and he entered Bangladesh on December 2016 to devise the Gulshan café attack, Islam said at a press conference in the media centre of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Mahfuz is a relative of Dhaka café attack mastermind Marzan, who was killed in crossfire on January 6, he said.