Aslam Hossain Rashed alias Rashedul Islam alias Rash, suspected to be a coordinator and one of the key planners of the Gulshan attack, has been arrested from Natore.
The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit, Police headquarters, Bogra and Natore police jointly conducted drives and arrested him from the Shingra Bus Stand area around 5am on Friday.
Bogra Additional Superintendent of Police Arifur Rahman Mondol confirmed the matter.
DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said Rashed was brought to Dhaka on Friday evening and he would be placed before the court for a remand prayer on Saturday.
According to CTTC sources, Rashed was very close to Tamim Chowdhury, who masterminded the Gulshan terror attack and was killed in a Narayanganj den.
The sources claimed that Rashed was involved in the arms supply and planning of the attack, as well as in the reconnaissance of the attack location at the Holey Artisan Bakery. He left home in 2016.
Locals of Kanchanpur village in Manda upazila of Naogaon district, where Rashed’s house was said to be located, said that he was known to them under the name Aslam Ali Mohon.
They added that Rashed and his family had left the area around seven years ago, after his father Abdus Salam had been convicted in a cheque fraud case.
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Rashed’s paternal uncle Abul Kalam, who still lives in their village home, confirmed to the Dhaka Tribune that Rashed’s father had been absconding since he was sentenced to a year in prison by a Naogaon court for the cheque fraud case, while his family had moved to Rajshahi.
Kalam added that locals had thought Rashed had died in crossfire with Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) about two years ago, though the picture of the deceased shown by RAB at the time did not match.
He further said that Rashed had been known to be a good boy, and there had been no indication that he would become radicalised. Rashed completed his SSC at a local school in Kanchanpur and had been admitted for HSC at a college in Rajshahi.
Manda Police Station Inspector (Investigation) Mahbub Alam said that Rashed had no previous history of crime according to their records, though his father is indeed listed as an absconding convict in a cheque fraud case.
Rashed’s mother Nasima Khatoon refused to identify the arrested youth as her son until she saw him face to face or a photo.
“My son is Aslam Ali Mohon, not Rashed,” she said
She added that her son had been missing from his rented mess in Rajshahi since early June, 2016.
About her son, she said Rashed had passed class 5 from Naogoan Kanchanpur primary school. He then went to his maternal grandfather’s house and finished the SSC exam in Nalhata Model High School. Later, he gained admission in a paramedical course in Rajshahi.
Rashed subsequently gained admission to the Rajshahi Model School and College. He lived in a mess in the city and was supposed to sit HSC exam last year, she added.
However, when sent to his aunt’s house at the beginning of Ramadan last year, Rashed went missing from her home on Ramadan 11. Out of hopes he would return, Nasima said they did not file a general diary with police
Meanwhile, Home Minister Asazuzzaman Khan Kamal said at a programme on Friday that the investigation regarding the Holey Artisan Bakery was entering the final stages.
“As I said earlier, citizens of our friendly countries have died in this attack. So, police are working to submit a perfect charge sheet. In the end, we will be able to submit a charge sheet in the fastest time,” he said, adding that Rashed was a key planner of the Gulshan terror attack.
At least 20 hostages and two police officers were killed in the attack at Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1, 2016.
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Earlier police claimed that 22 people were involved in the Holey Artisan attack while five attackers – Nibras Islam, Rohan Imtiaz, Meer Saameh Mubasser, Khairul Islam, Shafiqul Islam – directly took part in it.
Tamim and seven other suspects – Abdur Rahim alias Sarwar Jahan, Tanvir Kaderi, Major (retd) Zahidul Islam alias Murad alias Jahangir alias Julhas, Nurul Islam Marjan, Abu Raihan Tarek, Abdullah and Faridul Islam alias Akash – were killed during operations.
Officials with knowledge of the investigation said Sarwar was a top leader of New JMB who supervised the whole attack.
Earlier this month, CTTC chief Monirul Islam said five militants – Sohel Mahfuz alias Hatkata Mahfuz, Basharuzzaman alias Chocolate, Mizanur Rahman alias Choto Mizan, Rashedul Islam alias Rash, and Hadisur Rahman Sagor – played important roles in the attack.
“If wecan arrest at least three of them, it will help submit a charge sheet,” he said.
Of them, Hatkata Mahfuz was arrested on July 8 while Basharuzzaman and Mizanur Rahman died in a gunfight with police in Chapainawabganj.