Terrorist infiltration in North South University and several other private universities became the talk of the town after the Gulshan Holey Bakery attack. Suspicion arose also after it was revealed that the terrorist killed in Sholakia attack was also an NSU student.
The question on everyone's mind is that whether terrorism has also seduced wealthy private university students when the established notion is that madrasas are the breeding ground for militants.
Analysts say terrorists wanted to infiltrate the elite group and picked private universities as good targets.
On March 30, 2015, radical Islamists hacked to death blogger Md Oyasiqur Rahman Babu in Tejgaon, Dhaka. Locals accosted assailants Zikrullah and Ariful Islam. It later emerged that they were madrasa students.
The charge sheet said the attackers planned to kill him for his supposedly anti-Islamic writing in blogs and Facebook. Abdullah alias Hasib ordered the killing. Eight people took part in the planning, but four carried it out.
In Gulshan, terrorists held hostage patrons of Holey Artisan Bakery and killed 22 people, mostly foreigners. Youths from affluent backgrounds were among the killers.
Maj Gen (retd) Abdur Rashid said there was no reason to think that while madrasas had been identified as militant breeding ground, the same process was underway at private universities.
“They are working simultaneously and different units are working at different places … The brainwashing is similar,” he said.
Journalist Tasnim Khalil said it should not be surprising that young men from wealthy backgrounds were getting into organisations like the IS.
“We have to remember that institutions like the NSU, Brac or IUB were strongholds of Hizb ut-Tahrir – that Islamist group's recruitment went on unimpeded in the private universities until the government banned them,” he added.
Khalil asserted that Tahrir and IS were connected to each other. “I see it like this: the type of young people who wanted to establish a Khilafat under Tahrir are now trying to do so under IS.”
International Crimes Strategy Forum's Dr Omar Shehab told the Bangla Tribune: “It's true that both madrasa and private university students are among terrorists. What this means is that the recruiters are working hard.
“But we don't know what percent of them come from madrasas and what percent from private universities. We don't know how this ratio is changing with time.”
Twenty-two persons died after youths armed with rifles, pistols and explosives stormed Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan 2 on July 1. Two police officials died from grenade charge. Twenty hostages, mostly foreigners, were slaughtered inside the restaurant, before commandos managed to rescue the other hostages the next morning.
They killed six people including five terrorists.
On July 7, the day of Eid-ul Fitr, terrorists trying to enter Bangladesh's largest Eid congregation at Sholakia in Kishoreganj attacked a police check post, killing two policemen. A woman and one terrorist were also killed in a gun battle that ensued. The killed terrorist was identified as Abir Rahman, an NSU student.