Another member of banned militant group Ansar al-Islam has confessed in court to his involvement in the 2015 murder of writer and blogger Avijit Roy, officials of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit have said.
Third member of the terror outfit to confess in the murder case, Arafat Rahman gave his statement to a Dhaka court on Monday.
Arafat, who also goes by Siam and Sajjad both, 24, was arrested from Aminbazar’s Borodeshi area in Dhaka on November 24.
According to CTTC officials, Arafat said he was at the scene, carrying a gun and a machete, when Avijit was hacked to death in public near TSC at Dhaka University on February 26 two years ago.
Md Abu Siddiq Sohel and Mozammel Hussain Saimon are the two other Ansar al-Islam members who have confessed to playing roles in carrying out the murder.
According to all three, 10 militants, including Ansar al-Islam’s leader sacked army officer Syed Md Ziaul Haque alias Zia, had taken part in the attack - four of them were tasked with killing Avijit while the rest were instructed to follow him.
They also said Zia had coordinated and supervised the whole operation to kill Avijit, a naturalised US citizen who had received multiple death threats from Islamists over his writings on science and religion.
Saimon is the chief of the Intelligence and Media Wing of Ansar al-Islam, also known as Ansarullah Bangla Team. Sohel is also an active member of the same wing and Arafat is a member of the militant group’s operations wing.
Sohel and Saimon were members of the second team, while one Mukul Rana led the first team.
CTTC officials said Mukul was one of the militants who had hacked Avijit to death. However, he died in a reported gunfight between police and militants during a raid at Khilgaon on June 18 last year.
CTTC’s Additional Deputy Commissioner Md Saiful Islams said Arafat on Monday also divulged names of several other militants who were now under their radar. “We are trying to catch them at the soonest.”
The charge sheet in the case would also be submitted once they are arrested, he added.
On Sunday, CTTC chief Monirul Islam had claimed to have made significant progress in the murder case. “The charge sheet will be submitted before February 2, 2018.”
The case was filed at Shahbagh police station by Avijit’s father Prof Ajay Roy. It was then sent over to the Detective Branch and later transferred to the CTTC for investigation.
Another official added that Arafat also confessed to his direct involvement in the murders of LGBT rights activist Xulhaz Mannan and his friend Khandaker Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, Jagriti Prakashani publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan and blogger Niaz Morshed.
Abu Siddiq Sohel had also confessed to taking part in two other killings – Dipan and secular activist and blogger Niladri Chatterjee Niloy - at the orders of “Boro Bhai” Zia.
After him, Saimon said in his confessional statetment that he was involved with the murders of Xulhaz, Tonoy and Dipan too.