“No idiot.” These were the last words from Nibras Islam to his sister, Bushra, when she asked him if he was going to die. He sent them to her by text on June 27, 2016, just four days before participating and losing his life in the terror attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery.
Even a year after the incident, his family still wonder what led him to turn from a meek and gentle boy into one of Bangladesh’s most infamous terrorists.
Bushra was also the last person Nibras spoke to in person before disappearing in 2016, telling her to take care of the family. He had also left a note seeking their blessing and assuring them of his return.
Also Read- Why Holey Artisan?
“I tried hard to know where he was and what he was doing but he never answered. He used to share almost everything with me but he did not share this. We could at least have tried to bring him to reason if he shared his transformation with us even once,” Bushra told the Dhaka Tribune.
In his initial texts to her on June 27, Nibras had asked his sister not to make blasphemous remarks and perform “Hijrat” as he did.
“We are an ordinary Muslim family. We say our prayers but Nibras was never too interested in religion. We had to push him to attend Jumma prayers on Friday. But he started praying regularly after returning home from Malaysia, where he was studying at Monash University, in 2015,” said Nibras’ father Nazrul Islam.
“I thought it was a good sign and never noticed something abnormal in it. How am I supposed to know that he was being misguided through the internet? We could not understand it. Otherwise we could have saved our son.”
Also Read- Abinta Kabir’s memory lives on in Natore
Nazrul suspects that someone from Malaysia misguided Nibras.
“I demand extreme punishment for those who brainwashed my son and led him to take part in such heinous act. My son was not supposed to accept such a fate. I rolled up my business to a certain extent so that I could spend enough time with him. I used to take him to the playground all the time as he loved to play games,” he said
With tears welling up in his eyes, Nazrul sought forgiveness from those who had lost family members in the attack and added: “I had a friendly relationship with my son. I nurtured him with all my love and affection and that son turned into a terrorist.”
Also Read- The boy who went back
Nibras’ mother Laila Bilkis was similarly at a loss to explain why Nibras transformed and why he hid it from them. She said Nibras had taken some old clothes with him when leaving home for the last time. When Laila asked him about the clothes, Nibras said he was going to exchange them with new ones from one of his friend’s shop.
Later, Laila discovered her son had gone missing along with four of his friends and left a letter in his home.
“Please find out who brainwashed my son and punish them, so that no other mother loses her child and no other incident like the Dhaka terror attack ever takes place,” Laila pleaded.