Bangladesh police arrested two suspected members of a banned militant group on Tuesday in connection with an alleged plot to kill Khijir Hayat Khan, a prominent actor and filmmaker in the country, officials said.
Counter-terror agents nabbed Mohammad Emdadul Islam (alias Mehedi Hasan), 30, and Abu Bakar, 20, in front of a building that was under construction in Dhaka, police said in a statement, accusing the duo of links with Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).
“We have found their involvement in planning to murder Khijir. They opened a Telegram ID named ‘Esho Kafela Boddha Hoi’ and exchanged information among themselves about the plot to kill the filmmaker,” Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told BenarNews.
“During preliminary interrogation, the arrestees revealed that they were active members of ABT and were planning to kill Khijir because he co-wrote the movie ‘Mr. Bangladesh,’” Masudur said.
Bangladeshi authorities blamed ABT, a homegrown extremist outfit also known as Ansar al-Islam and which is linked to al-Qaeda, for a series of killings that targeted secular activists, writers and homosexuals between 2015 and 2016.
Khijir Khan was one of the scriptwriters of “Mr. Bangladesh,” a film about defeating terrorism that was released in Dhaka cinemas on Nov. 16.
The movie, based on terrorist incidents that took place in the country in recent years, focuses on how some people misguide others and radicalize them in the name of religion.
Khijir Khan told BenarNews that he had alerted the police over possible attacks against him after receiving a threat from a Facebook user last month.
Khijir said the movie was not aimed at hurting the religious sentiments of anyone.
“We just wanted to give a message that people from all religions can live in harmony in Bangladesh,” he said. “The majority of our population are peace-loving, who will never support any kind of violence.”
Mohibul Islam Khan, a deputy commissioner of the police’s Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit, said intelligence agents had notified the Home Ministry about the militant plot to kill the filmmaker.
“It took us two months to detect the militants since after getting the assignment,” he said.
The two suspects visited the filmmaker’s home in Comilla district and introduced themselves to Khijir’s father as movie fans, Khan said.
“We’ve found photos of different rooms of the house preserved in the mobile phones of the militants,” Khan told BenarNews.
The suspects were taken to a Dhaka court, which issued a seven-day remand Tuesday and granted police three days to interrogate the duo.
Police have arrested dozens of suspected ABT members and several others have been gunned down in what police had described as “crossfire” incidents during a countrywide crackdown that followed an attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka in July 2016.
Twenty-nine people, including 17 foreigners, were killed in that terrorist siege of the café, in Bangladesh’s deadliest terrorist attack that was claimed by the Islamic State group.