Even though the closed circuit TV camera coverage of Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan has not helped the investigators reconstruct the July 1 carnage, the other cameras installed in the nearby areas have been helpful in suggesting the investigators how the operation was conducted.
Dhaka Tribune reported on July 10 that the investigators were closely analysing the CCTV footage collected from the adjacent buildings, quoting Dhaka Metropolitan Police sources.
Investigators are yet to confirm the entry route of the attackers to the diplomatic zone as there are very few CCTV cameras installed on the streets. They are also working to figure out the exits of several suspects, believed to have assisted the attackers from near the spot.
Mohammad Saiful Islam, acting deputy commissioner of DMP's Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crimes unit, said that the police had collected some 50 pieces of CCTV footage from the area.
Investigators suspect that the militants visited the Spanish restaurant several times prior to the attack.
Their main target was to draw media attention and create panic by killing foreigners, as they follow other religion and their countries are reportedly involved in the ongoing war against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The restaurant was chosen apparently because it was popular among the foreigners for their array of food as well as the homely ambiance.
Sources close to the investigation also said that the attackers had gone to the restaurant on a microbus to carry out the operation.
They did not get any clue from the CCTV camera installed in the cafe as it was damaged prior to the hostage situation.
Ali Arsalan, one of the owners of Holey Artisan Bakery, told the Dhaka tribune that the restaurant had one CCTV camera, installed on the cash counter.
“The camera was to monitor the cash transactions only. It was immovable,” he said.
Two to three unarmed security guards were on-duty outside the cafe at the time of the attack, but they fled the scene as soon as the militants started shooting, Arsalan added.
International terrorist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack after midnight first by uploading the photos of five attackers and then releasing some photos of victims lying on the floor in a pool of blood.
Twenty people including 17 foreigners were shot and hacked to death inside the cafe while two police officers were killed as they tried to get close to the spot on July 1. The attackers were killed in a commando operation the next morning.
‘They were forced to carry guns’
The investigators said that the killings had taken place in the dining room of O’ Kitchen restaurant, a sister concern that operates in the same building and serves European cuisines.
However, the CCTV camera of a nearby building revealed that Hasnat Karim was holding a gun during the hostage crisis. In interrogation, he reportedly claimed that he had been forced to carry the gun.
A New York Times report dated July 8 quoted two hostages as saying that the attackers had ordered Tahmid Hasib Khan and Hasnat Karim to perform specific tasks for them.
“At one point, the attackers directed Tahmid Hasib Khan to carry a gun and go with them to the roof of the restaurant, the hostages said. They said Tahmid Hasib Khan resisted and to persuade him to hold the weapon the attackers fired it to show him its magazine was empty. Tahmid Hasib Khan broke down in tears at their insistence, one of the hostages said, but reluctantly complied,” the report said.
“Hasnat Karim was twice ordered to go outside the restaurant, once to lock the gate and then in the morning to open it, one of the hostages interviewed said,” it added.
The NY Times report also said attackers took Tahmid Hasib Khan and Hasnat Karim to the roof in the morning of July 2 to discuss what to do with the group of Bangladeshi Muslims they had spared.
“Tahmid Hasib Khan persuaded the attackers to spare the group, and soon after, at about 6am, they were released,” the report said quoting the two hostages who were released afterwards.
Investigators said that they had received some important information from Hasnat and Tahmid, and were working on it. They, however, could not clarify if the duo were involved in the attack or not, but said they had already released them after completing interview.
But their family members yesterday said that the duo had not returned home.
Meanwhile, sources said yesterday that the police had seized a white handkerchief from the body of a militant just after “Operation Thunderbolt” on July 2 morning. “Daulatul Islam Bangladesh” was written in Bangla on the handkerchief.
The organisation is a platform of IS members and has activities in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Egypt.
On July 6, IS released a video calling for jihad in Bangladesh and threatening more attacks on the “crusaders” and “crusader nations.”
One of the three Bangladeshi men seen in the video was Tushar Arafat, a dentist from Dhaka, who urged the Muslims to join “Daulatul Islam” – working to establish Shariah law in the country.