Following primary investigations into Friday’s > attack on an upmarket neighbourhood in Dhaka , law enforcement officials said on Monday that members of banned militant outfits Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Ansarullah Bangla Team carried out the attack jointly following an in-depth reconnaissance.
They also said some of them had taken part in several other operations — including the bomb attack on a temple and the murder of a converted freedom fighter in northern Bangladesh — conducted recently in the name of the Islamic State (IS)
Also, Inspector General of Bangladesh Police A.K.M. Shahidul Haque said the militants had killed the 20 hostages within 20 minutes of the attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery.
Among the gunmen were a graduate of Bangladesh’s leading private university, an 18-year-old student at an elite school and the son of a ruling party official.
“They are all highly educated young men and from well-off families,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told AFP. Asked why they would have become jihadists, Mr. Khan said: “It has become a fashion.”
No IS foothold? While the Bangladesh government has continued to deny the IS has a foothold in the country, the group claimed the attack and its associated news agency, Amaq, posted pictures of the five gunmen posing with weapons. Similarly in Pakistan, the government denies that the IS has a formal presence.
Bangladeshi authorities have so far only released code names of the cafe assailants after interrogating a gunman who was captured alive, but they have released photos of their bloodied corpses. Friends of one attacker confirmed his identity as 22-year-old Nibras Islam who had been studying at the Malaysian campus of Australia’s Monash University before going missing in January. After leaving school, Nibras went to North South University (NSU), a private university which came to prominence when one former student tried to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank in New York in 2012.
In early 2013, seven NSU students hacked atheist blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider to death, kick-starting a campaign of murders of secular activists. At their subsequent trial, prosecutors said the students had been radicalised through the Internet.
Another of the cafe attackers was identified by multiple sources as Mir Saameh Mubasheer, who was due to sit his A-levels at Scholastica, an elite English language school, but disappeared in February.
His father Mir Hayat Kabir told the Prothom Alo daily that he had feared his son, who was 18, had been brainwashed.
Yet another of the attackers was identified as Rohan Imtiaz who also reportedly studied at Monash in Malaysia after leaving Scholastica where his mother teaches.
His father, Imtiaz Khan Babul, is a former youth affairs secretary of the Dhaka wing of the ruling Awami League. He filed a missing person’s report for his son in January.
Only one of the five main attackers attended a madrassa, the son of a labourer who has been named as Khairul Islam Payel.
( With inputs from AFP )