Dhaka: A top Islamist extremist, who allegedly supplied arms, explosives and money to the militants who carried out the 2016 terror attack on a cafe in Bangladesh, has been arrested, police said on Sunday.
The militant was arrested from a bus in Gazipur city in the outskirts of the capital and has been identified as absconding Holey Artisan attack suspect Mamunur Rashid Ripon, said the police's elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
"He was arrested around 1 am on Sunday aboard a bus travelling from Haluaghat to Dhaka," RAB spokesman Mufti Mahmud Khan was quoted as saying by bdnews24.
The RAB claimed that he is the top financier and weapon supplier of banned Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which carried out the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery, an upmarket cafe in Dhaka on 1 July, 2016 that killed 22 people, including a 19-year-old Indian girl.
According to investigators, 30-year-old Ripon "supplied money, arms, ammunition and explosives for the attack."
Eighteen foreigners were among those shot and hacked to death by five militants in the 10-hour standoff at the cafe before military commandos stormed the building and freed some two dozen other people.
According to Khan, Ripon was in possession of Tk 150,000 (Rs 1.27 lakh) at the time of his arrest. "He admitted that he was associated with the planning of the Holey Artisan café attack as he was quizzed in our custody,” Khan said.
The official without elaboration said the RAB detectives simultaneously uncovered a militant plan to rescue from custody militants detained over the 2016 attack. "They (JMB) planned to snatch their detained fellows during their transportation to a Dhaka court from different jails for the trial in Trishal styler," he said.
JMB militants had snatched away three fellow operatives in northern Trishal sub-district on 23 February, 2014 after they ambushed a prison van and killed a policeman. On 23 July, 2018, two years after the incident, the police identified 21 people in connection with the attack.
Investigators said a total of 21 militants were involved in planning the assault but 13 of them were killed in subsequent anti-terrorism operations by security forces.
The government launched a nationwide crackdown against extremists immediately after the attack, killing nearly 100 alleged extremists in gunfights including several top JMB leaders. According to the investigation report, the attack was carried out by Neo-JMB militants after six months of planning. Six of the accused, Jahangir Alam alias Rajib Gandhi, Rakibul Hasan Regan, Rashedul Islam alias Rash, Sohel Mahfuz, Mizanur Rahman alias Baro Mizan and Hadisur Rahman Sagar, were brought to the court for the indictment.
Two other suspects, Shahidul Islam Khan and Ripon, were absconding at the time. The trial proceeded in their absence. The court issued warrants against them and ordered their property to be seized. The police Counter Terrorism Unit had previously said that they believed Khaled and Ripon had fled across the border to India.
According to the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2009, those convicted under the law may be granted death sentences.
Updated Date: Jan 20, 2019 17:37:05 IST