Officials have identified the funders of a terrorist attack at a Dhaka café in July, police said Tuesday, adding that the money arrived in Bangladesh via an informal money transfer from the United Arab Emirates.
“We have identified the financier of the Holey Artisan café attack. The suspect whose name was used for funds transfer is also known. Efforts continue to arrest them,” Sanwar Hossain, an additional deputy commissioner of the Bangladeshi police counter-terrorism and transnational crimes unit, told BenarNews. He did not reveal the names of the suspects.
A day earlier, police said that money that helped fund the July 1 attack was sent to Bangladesh via an unregulated international monetary transfer instrument known as Hundi.
“The money used in the attack came through hundi. The amount is 1.4 million taka (U.S. $17,850),” Monirul Islam, head of the police’s counter-terrorist unit, told reporters on Monday.
He said the money was transferred from a Middle Eastern country. A senior official in the police department told BenarNews that the money came from the United Arab Emirates.
Militants used the money to pay their rent and acquire weapons that were used in the attack, he said. Investigators believe the weapons came to Bangladesh through India.
But, according to Islam, “the arms used in the attack bear no country of origin.”
The extremist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and released photos of the attackers. Government officials blame homegrown terrorists linked to Neo-JMB, a faction of the Jamaat-ul-Bangladesh organization that nurtures IS ideology in Bangladesh.
Islam said that 60 percent to 70 percent of the JMB had been destroyed.
“The commanding level leaders, coordinators and trainers of the Neo-JMB were killed. Many of them have been arrested. Some of them have been under police surveillance. Now we are searching for their financiers,” Islam said.
Since the Holey Artisan attack, Bangladesh police have killed at least 20 suspected militants linked to a series of attacks or planned attacks in the country.
A police source told BenarNews that slain militant suspect and former army Major Zahidul Islam helped finance the Neo-JMB. Another slain suspect, former banker Tanvir Qadri, sold his flat in Dhaka’s Uttara and donated the money to the organization, the source said.
Abul Barkat, an economics professor at Dhaka University, told BenarNews that fundamentalist organizations should be audited to detect whether they are funding militants. Fundamentalists own 231 trusts and foundations in Bangladesh, he said.
A former president of the Bangladesh Economics Association, Barkat said, “The fundamentalists have invested in nine big sectors such as education, health, the bank, insurance and other financial institutions. There should be a third-party audit of these institutions.”