Five of Dhaka cafe attackers were missing for months

Dhaka, July 5 (IANS) As Bangladesh is still picking up the pieces after the deadly Dhaka cafe terror strike, from media reports it now appears clear that five of the seven young attackers went missing for three to six months, and reappeared on the day of the gruesome attack last Friday. At least two them may have studied at Melbourne-based Monash University’s Malaysian campus.

A case was filed on Monday under the anti-terrorism act by Gulshan area police Sub-Inspector Ripon against unidentified persons as well as six slain attackers for the Holey Artisan Bakery killings. Police in Bogra, in Rajshahi district in northern Bangladesh, have confirmed the identities of two other detained persons, media reports said.

The Islamist attackers killed 20 hostages and two policemen during the July 1 terror siege on the cafe, while six of the gunmen were killed and one captured alive.

Starting on Saturday, Facebook users in Bangladesh began matching the five photos of terrorists released by Islamic State’s news agency Amaq with the set of photos the police headquarters has released of five terrorists killed. Only four of the photos match those released by Amaq, said the Dhaka Tribune.

As investigation into the Gulshan area cafe attack continues, a profile has emerged of a group of young men, mostly from affluent families in Dhaka, who had turned to radical Islam some time ago.

Most of the attackers studied at top schools or universities, while the two from Bogra belonged to lower income families.

Three of the five men whose pictures were posted by Islamic State as fighters in the cafe attack have been identified in Facebook posts as Nibras Islam, Rohan Imtiaz and Meer Saameh Mubasheer.

According to the posts, some of the men went to an elite public school in Dhaka named Scholastic, and then at Dhaka’s North South University, and Melbourne-based Monash University’s Malaysian campus.

Monash University Malaysia posted a statement on Facebook on Monday that it had become aware through social media discussions that some of the alleged perpetrators had reportedly studied there.

Images of Nibras in Malaysia are available online – at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) with friends and posing outside a waterpark in Selangor.

It is still not clear when and how these young men — three of whom were below 22 years — were radicalised.

Nibras went missing since January 2016. He was initially recognised by his peers on social media after the attack.

One acquaintance told the Dhaka Tribune, Nibras was a social person and a good football player. He was the son of Nazrul Islam, a businessman in Uttara.

Rohan Imtiaz, who also is believed to have studied at Monash University’s Malaysian campus, was the son of a leader of the ruling Awami League Party’s Dhaka City chapter and deputy head of the country’s Olympic association, reports bdnews24.com.

He finished school in 2014 from Scholastica School.

Jamal Uddin Meer, officer-in-charge of Mohammadpur police station, told the Dhaka Tribune that Rohan’s family had filed a general diary with the police station after he went missing on January 1.

“After a long investigation we found evidence that he might have joined a militant group. We also informed the airports so that he could not leave Bangladesh,” said the Officer in Charge.

“He was a good, well-behaved boy, who offered prayers regularly,” Nuru Mia, caretaker of the building where Rohan lived, told the Dhaka Tribune.

Meer Saameh Mubasher, an ‘O’ Level candidate at Sunnydale School, had been missing since the afternoon of February 29 this year.

His family filed a missing complaint at Gulshan police station.

The complaint stated that Sameeh got down from the car while on his way to a coaching centre, that the traffic was bad and he was not seen again until the attack.

His father told the Dhaka Tribune that from a CCTV footage of police it was found that Sameeh took a rickshaw from Banani Road sometime after he got out of the car.

“We had a feeling that our son might have been involved with something very bad and we tried hard but could not stop him,” he added.

“The police could not find him. He was seen after they committed the attack. Allah knows how strong these people were who could break a parents’ love despite their strongest effort to impart the best values to their children,” added his father.

Shafiqul Islam Ujjal, a graduate of Bogra Government Azizul Haque College, had been missing since January 2016.

His father Badiuzzaman, of Dhunat’s Baniajan village, recognised him when he was shown the photo released by the IS, but could not confirm if any of the killed terrorists was his son.

His family said two years ago he began living with his brother Asadul Islam, a garments worker, in Ashulia, and started teaching at one Madari Madbar KG School, but six months ago he left home for Dhaka and since then there had been no contact.

“The family was being questioned,” said the police, the Dhaka Tribune reported.

Khairul Islam Payel, a madrassa student, had been missing since January 2016.

“He had been out of touch with the family for six months,” said Payel’s elder sister Hosne Ara.

Bogra detective branch inspector Amirul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune that the 20-year-old Payel was a listed terrorist the police had been looking for. One of his associates, Jamaat Ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) member Abdul Momin, was arrested in April with an AK-22 rifle.

He comes from a poor farming family of Brikushtia Dakkhinpara village, the paper added.

–IANS

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