The father and a brother of an alleged Islamic State member from Bangladesh, who was killed in an airstrike by coalition forces last month, have been arrested and will face charges under Bangladesh’s anti-terrorism law, officials told BenarNews on Monday.
Police said they arrested Abul Hasnat, 73, and Afsanul Sujan Galib, 15, the father and brother of Siful Haque Sujan, on Dec. 12, two days after the 31-year-old British-educated engineer and information technology expert was killed in an airstrike in Raqqah, Syria.
The father and brother are suspected of links with extremists based in Britain and other European countries, officials said. The two were arrested at the family’s apartment in Dhaka’s Mohammadpur area.
According to the U.S. military, Sujan, a Bangladeshi national, was as an external operations planner for IS who supported its hacking efforts and anti-surveillance technology and weapons development programs.
The Pentagon last week called him a “key link between networks” that were part of IS. Sujan was one of 10 IS leaders killed in airstrikes launched by the U.S.-led military coalition from early to late December, Pentagon officials said.
“Yes, they have been arrested. And they will face terrorism charges in accordance with the anti-terrorism act,” Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews.
The minister said the two had links with terrorists in Britain and Europe, but he repeated his earlier assertion that IS was not present in Bangladesh.
IS had claimed responsibility for a series of recent murders and attacks in Bangladesh since late September that targeted foreigners and members of religious minorities.
Police declined to talk about specific evidence they had against the two suspects.
“The police [questioned] his father and brothers. They believe in extremism and militant views. The family members must have links with him. They must face punishment according to the anti-terrorism law,” Police Inspector Gen. A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque told BenarNews.
Both father and son denied connections to Bangladeshi militant groups, Hoque said.
“But the police are certain that the whole family subscribes to extremist views,” he said.
According to a report in Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper, Sujan led IS’s cyber operations after moving to Syria from Cardiff, Wales, where he ran an IT firm.
The paper reported that he was “suspected of having run a global money-laundering ring for the terror group from his former base in Britain.”
According to the Mail, Sujan is also suspected of having paid for a 15-year-old British girl to travel to areas controlled by IS in Syria or Iraq, where she was destined to serve as a bride for the extremist group.
Sujan is the second of four brothers, police in Bangladesh said.
Born in 1984, he completed his schooling in southwestern Khulna city, where his father is a dentist. The family hails from the Tungipara area in Gopalganj district, some 150 km (93 miles) south of Dhaka.
According to copies of British immigration papers seen by BenarNews, Sujan entered Britain on a student visa. In 2005, he brought his wife, Shayma Akter, to Britain, where a son, Amanul Haque, was born in October 2012.