Toronto student detained in Dhaka

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A collage of Tahmid’s photos posted by the “Free Tahmid” group on Facebook

Tahmid Hasib Khan, a 22-year-old student from the University of Toronto is in police custody after surviving the hostage crisis and terrorist attack at a café in Bangladesh last weekend. His brother Talha Rahim Khan told CBC News that he had no idea when Tahmid would be released and that the university has been informed of the situation.

In an earlier interview to a leading daily, Khan’s cousin Rasheek Ishtahim stated that no family was allowed to see him, his parents spoke to him by phone. His mother is besides herself with grief as at her request, Tahmid delayed going to Nepal to complete an internship with UNICEF and came to Dhaka to celebrate Eid with the family first.

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News reports from Bangladesh and around the globe confirmed Khan as one of five hostages still being questioned after the café raid. It is not clear whether they were detained because they were suspects or if police thought they might have useful information.

The family is appealing to the Canadian government to help secure his release but the fact that Tahmid is a permanent resident not a Canadian citizen might put a spoke in the wheel.

The family believes that police might think he has was threat because of his proximity in age to that of the terrorists. However there is another Canadian connection to the Dhaka attack that might account for Khan’s predicament. As per Bangladeshi newspaper reports, Bangladeshi Canadian Tamim Chowdhury, also known as Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, is the reported leader of the Islamic State-affiliated group.

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According to family members, Khan who is a fourth-year student in UofT, arrived in Dhaka from Canada last Friday, to celebrate Eid with his family before going to Nepal. That night the family chauffeur dropped Khan off at the Holey Artisan Bakery just moments before attackers stormed the café. At around 10 p.m., his father, a director of an agribusiness company in Bangladesh, received a text from his son to say he was alive. They didn’t hear from him again until Saturday morning, after security forces stormed the café. Khan was among the 13 hostages that got out alive.

As word about his detainment spread online among Khan’s friends in Toronto, a Facebook group called “Free Tahmid” was created to push for his release from police custody.

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Khan has epilepsy which the family says Bangladeshi authorities are aware of, but they are worried nonetheless and all efforts are being made by them to secure his immediate release.

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