DHAKA/KOLKATA: Three of the gunmen who slaughtered 20 people in the Bangladeshi capital city have been identified after their photographs were released, with one of them being named as Rohan Ibne Imtiaz, the son of a member of the ruling Awami League. The other two killers appear to be Shamim Mubashir, who went to Scholastica — one of Dhaka’s top schools, which was also attended by Rohan — and Nibras Islam, who went to another elite School, Turkish Hopes, and also studied at Malaysia’s Monash University. His Facebook page has a picture of him shaking hands with actress Shraddha Kapoor.
Rohan’s father, S M Imtiaz Khan Babul, a leader of the party’s Dhaka City chapter and deputy secretary general of the Bangladesh Olympic Association, had lodged a police complaint on January 4 stating that his son was missing.
The revelation came even as the Bangladesh government insisted that the killers were members of homegrown outfit Jamaeytul Mujahdeen Bangladesh (JMB), rather than IS. Hossain Toufique Imam, political adviser to PM Sheikh Hasina, blamed ISI for facilitating the attack.Pakistan’s ISI and Jamaat connection is well known…they want to derail the current government,” Imam told TV channel NDTV, adding, “All victims were hacked to death like Jamaat and local terror groups do”.
As India keeps a close tab on the evolving terror spectre across its eastern border, reports of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh activists and members of Jamaat-e-Islami turning to the ruling Awami League for cover are giving the jitters to the security establishment.
“If an Awami leader’s son can be a terrorist, any JMB link will only complicate the situation,” said an intelligence official. Earlier, too, there have been intelligence reports of JMB and Jamaat-e-Islami members seeking Awami League’s shelter to revoke their punishment. An Awami tag makes getting passports and visas easy, particularly to India.
A senior Bangladesh government official said there were reports of terror elements taking shelter in Awami League. In February 2013, after 17 Awami supporters were killed by Jamaat activists in Satkhira, many of them had joined AL, he said.
“This forced many Awami supporters in Satkhira to leave the party. Some had even planned to kill Hasina’s son Joy, but they managed to become AL leaders by paying off district-level officials. Some JMB youth are now with Awami’s youth wing Yuva League,” the official said.
He said the youth had been so thoroughly indoctrinated that even the educated from rich families have turned into killers.Intelligence officials felt JMB’s larger plan could be to destabilize Bangladesh. Home minister Asaduzamman Khan, however, told reporters that there is no IS link to the attack and those involved were home-grown terrorists who belonged to JMB or HuJI and were not from madrassas.
Human rights activist Shahriar Kabir, who is associated with Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, said Jamaat and JMB activists were joining Awami League at several places. Though banned from contesting polls, Jamaat is having a free run, organizing rallies and demonstrations whenever war criminals are executed. “Jamaat members are even contesting in Union Council as Awami League candidates. We are trying to stop this mockery,” he said.
National police chief Shahidul Hoque said investigators would explore the possibility of “an international link” but added that “primarily, we suspect they are JMB members.”
Despite the government’s denials, the IS-linked news agency Amaq published extensive details of the attack, including photos from inside the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe and the casualty figures.Analysts said the government was wary of acknowledging that groups such as IS or al-Qaida were operating in Bangladesh as this could scare off foreign investors.
Meanwhile, there was mass condemnation of the killing in Dhaka.