Bangladesh: American Citizen Among 9 Slain Terror Suspects, Police Say

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
160728-BD-jmb-620.jpg Bangladesh police exhibit guns and knives recovered from an apartment where officers killed nine suspected militants, in Dhaka, July 26, 2016.

A man that trained terrorists who massacred 20 hostages in a Dhaka café attack and an American were among nine suspected militants killed in a raid this week in the city, police said Thursday.

Raihan Kabir (alias Tareq), a commander of the banned militant outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, was one of two people who trained the men who carried out the deadly siege, and fellow JMB member Shehzad Rouf Arka was a dual U.S.-Bangladeshi citizen, officials said.

According to them, Arka was a friend of one of five men who attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka’s Gulshan 2 neighborhood on July 1, and were later killed when security forces stormed the restaurant.

“Tareq trained the Gulshan attackers in a shoal in northwestern Gaibandha district,” Monirul Islam, chief of the Bangladeshi police’s counter-terrorism and transnational crimes unit, told reporters in Dhaka on Thursday.

He said Tareq was also wanted by police for the killing of a policeman, Constable Mukul Hossain, in a machete-attack by two motorbike-riding extremists on a highway outside Dhaka on Nov. 4, 2015.

Police knew Kabir as Tareq, and investigators were able to identify eight of the nine slain suspects from their fingerprints which were on file in a national database.

Police also confirmed that one of the nine, Arka, was a U.S. passport holder. The website of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police posted his passport number and year of birth, 1992, in confirming that he was an American citizen.

Officials at the U.S. embassy in Dhaka, however, declined to confirm whether Arka was an American citizen, citing privacy laws prohibiting disclosure of such information. An official from the embassy accompanied Arka’s father to the Dhaka Medical College on Wednesday, where an autopsy was performed, according to Bangladeshi media reports.

Arka’s father could not positively identify the body and asked that a DNA test be done to determine if the remains belonged to his son, local reports said.

Arka was a friend of Nibras Islam, who was among the five who attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery, Monirul Islam said. Police earlier identified Nibras Islam as a student at Monash University Malaysia.

Pro-IS chants

According to Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Masudur Rahman, the nine suspected militants who were killed in a Tuesday raid on an apartment building in Dhaka belonged to the same militant group, JMB, which attacked the café in the city’s diplomatic quarter.

According to Bangladeshi authorities, the nine who were hiding out in the apartment were plotting a terrorist attack on a similar scale, when police and security forces closed in on them.

Nine of 11 suspected JMB members were killed when police launched a pre-dawn raid on a six-story apartment block in Dhaka’s Kalyanpur neighborhood. Officers recovered handguns, grenades, explosives, two Islamic State flags, laptops, mobile phones and extremist literature from the apartment, authorities said.

A 10th suspect was captured in the raid but the 11th managed to escape.

Witnesses told local media that the militants shouted pro-IS slogans showing their support for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

IS claimed responsibility for the café attack and other recent attacks in Bangladesh targeting members of religious minorities as well as foreigners, among other types of victims, but Bangladeshi officials have consistently denied that IS has a presence in the country.

Despite witness accounts at the scene of Tuesday’s raid, Inspector General of Police A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque told reporters that police had found no link between the JMB cell and the Middle East-based extremist group.

“They are the JMB members,” he said.

Hoque maintained that JMB members were responsible for the attack on the café as well as a suicide attack that targeted the nation’s largest Eid prayer service on July 7, which left two policemen, a civilian and a militant dead.


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