The pictures show attacker Rohan Imtiaz, an AK-22 rifle dangling from his neck, talking to Hasnat and Tahmid. Rohan was killed during rescue operation Thunderbolt that took place early on the morning of July 2.
The Dhaka Tribune could not independently verify the source of the images that have been widely circulated in the media.
That the body language of the two “hostages” does not display the fear one would expect in such a situation has been described by some as problematic.
Moreover, Rohan Imtiaz does not appear as menacing with the pair as witnesses have described him. Witnesses have said Rohan summarily executed a foreign victim brought out of hiding, besides participating in the carnage at the restaurant, before ordering the staff to prepare a meal.
By themselves, the photos present no hard evidence that links Hasnat or Tahmid directly to the attackers.
Police initially said Hasnat and Tahmid were among the 34 hostages who survived the terror attack on the upmarket eatery in the heart of Dhaka’s diplomatic zone. The attackers released them moments before commandos broke into the restaurant to end the 11-hour siege.
Quoting witnesses, the New York Times on July 8 reported that Tahmid had been forced by the attackers to carry a gun.
It reported: “At one point, the attackers directed Mr [Tahmid Hasib] Khan to carry a gun and go with them to the roof of the restaurant, the hostages said. They said Mr Khan resisted, and to persuade him to hold the weapon the attackers fired it to show him its magazine was empty. Mr Khan broke down in tears at their insistence he take the gun, one of the hostages said, but reluctantly complied.”
Another report by Guernica magazine, which also quoted a hostage, on August 5 said the gunmen forced Tahmid to hold an unloaded gun during the night and took him upstairs with Hasnat.
“The purpose appears to have been to use [Tahmid] Khan as a human shield in case the police tried to shoot the attackers,”
On Wednesday, police said they had arrested Hasnat and Tahmid for their “dubious roles” during the horrific attack.
The families of the two men have repeatedly claimed that Tahmid and Hasnat had not returned home since their detention after the rescue on July 2.
Hasnat, a former North South University teacher, is a UK citizen while Tahmid, a Canadian residence permit holder, studies at the University of Toronto.
A Dhaka court on August 4 placed the two on an eight-day interrogation by investigators.