Bangladeshi police on Thursday announced the arrests of a fugitive who allegedly supplied weapons for a terrorist attack at a Dhaka café in 2016 and a second man described as the mastermind of a foiled bomb plot in the capital last year.
The suspects, Hadisur Rahman Sagor, who was linked to attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery café, and Akram Hossain Niloy were captured near a cinema in Shivganj, a sub-district of northern Bogra district, according to local police.
“We had been looking for him (Sagor) for long. We got him. His arrest will help the police to file a flawless investigation on the attack,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews, referring to the café attack, the deadliest act of terror in Bangladesh’s nearly 47-year history.
Niloy was arrested in connection with a plot to bomb a National Day of Mourning observance in Dhaka in August 2017, authorities said.
“Sagor supplied the AK-22 rifles and grenades used in the Holey Artisan café attack and Niloy is the mastermind of the Aug. 15, 2017, suicidal attack at a hotel in the Panthapath neighborhood of Dhaka,” Ali Asraf Bhuiyan, the superintendent of police in Bogra, told BenarNews.
Police linked both suspects to Neo-JMB, an offshoot of militant group Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). Neo-JMB members are known to subscribe to the hardline ideology of the extremist group Islamic State (IS), police said.
The two suspects were turned over to the counter-terrorism and transnational crime unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police. A court granted police a seven-day remand to hold the suspects for questioning.
Claimed by IS, the café attack in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter on July 1and 2, 2016, left 29 people dead – 20 hostages, two police officers, two café workers and the five gunmen who stormed the bakery and massacred diners during an overnight siege.
Since then, police targeted 22 suspects for their roles in supporting the young men who carried out the siege – killing 13 in counterterror raids. With Sagor’s arrest, seven suspects are in custody and two others are considered fugitives.
Investigators alleged that Niloy, whose Neo-JMB code names were Slade Wilson and Jack Sparrow, provided funds for the planned attack targeting the National Mourning Day event in Dhaka.
The Aug. 15 plot failed when a bomber, identified as Saiful Islam, blew himself up in his hotel room after police officers confronted him, officials said. The bombing occurred a short distance from a house where Bangladesh’s founding president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and much of his family were assassinated on that day 42 years earlier.
Hours before the bomber killed himself, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Rahman’s daughter who survived the 1975 attack because she was out of the country, led thousands of people who had gathered in the neighborhood to pay tribute to her father.
Earlier this week, officials announced plans for the government to give 15,000 euros (1.5 million taka or U.S. $18,400) in compensation to 19 of the 20 hostages who were killed in the Holey Artisan attack.
The home minister will present checks and mementos to survivors of Bangladeshi and Indian victims during a ceremony in Dhaka on Sunday. Similar compensation has been given to the survivors of nine Italian victims and six of the seven Japanese victims, with one of the Japanese families declining the compensation, home ministry officials said.