Foyzur Rahman Faizul, who stabbed noted author Professor Zafar Iqbal at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), has admitted that he used the smartphone application Telegram for communication.
However, during initial interrogation, the attacker claimed that he cannot remember his ID and password for the app.
Faizul has also given contradictory information to law enforcers regarding his frequent disappearances from his home in Sylhet.
Officials concerned with the probe of the attack on Zafar Iqbal have a strong suspicion that the youth has connections with at least one militant group.
One of the officials, who interrogated Faizul, has disclosed the matter to the correspondent.
Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging service that offers its users secure electronic communication through a custom encryption protocol.
Militant groups operating in foreign and domestic soil mostly prefer these types of messaging apps to call and message due security reasons.
Even in Bangladesh, many arrested members of the new faction of the banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (New JMB) and Ansar al-Islam were found to have been using these smartphone apps for secure communication.
According to sources, the banned militant group Ansar al-Islam has changed its organizational strategy by instructing its members to carry out militant activities in their homes, for alleviating suspicion.
However, members of sleeper cells held meetings in Markaz- which is the militant group’s code name for safe-houses.
Officials concerned have suspicions that Faizul used the Telegram app to maintain communication with an extremist group, which could be Ansar Al-Islam.
Faizul’s behavioral pattern, and information given by him during interrogation, is quite similar to the previously arrested members of Ansar al-Islam.
Law enforcers are suspecting that the youth could be a member of a sleeper cell.
Responding to a query, Additional Deputy Inspector General (Intelligence and Special Affairs) of Police Headquarters, Md Moniruzzaman said: “We have made significant progress in the investigation on the attack of Zafar Iqbal.
“It is certain that Faizul harbours extremist beliefs, but we are yet find evidence that he is a cohort, or has links with any militant groups. Investigating a militant attack is time consuming, but we are close to solving the mystery.”
Where is his mobile phone?
Witnesses say that Faizul had a mobile phone with him during his attack on the professor. However, it was never found.
A probe official, preferring to be anonymous, said: “Recovery of that mobile phone is crucial to the investigation. Analyzing data contained in that handset could reveal Faizul’s recent contacts, and many other important information.”
An official of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), who questioned Faziul on the same of the attack, stated: “I firmly believe that the culprit was in contact with someone through the internet. I also believe that despite claiming to be self-radicalized, Faizul was motivated by someone.
“However, the youth is yet to reveal more information to us. We cannot put too much pressure on him as he is under treatment at a hospital.”
Another official of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC) pointed out that Faziul was motivated to an extent that he was prepared to die after the attack on Zafar Iqbal.
Prof Zafar Iqbal was speaking at a two-day long fair organized by the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering when he was stabbed in the back of his head by an assailant armed with a knife on March 3.
The attack occurred around 5:40pm. The attacker, a youth identified as Faizul, was immediately taken down and detained by authorities after a severe thrashing.
Along with the Sylhet Metropolitan Police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) and Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC) is working closely to find more details about the attack.
Faizul is currently being interrogated by a CTTC team led by two additional deputy commissioners of police in Sylhet.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com