Foyzur Rahman Faizul, who stabbed noted author Professor Zafar Iqbal at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), has confessed that he carried out the attack under the guidance of an extremist internet forum named Dawah Ilallah.
During interrogation, the culprit also revealed that members of that forum frequently held discussion about murdering the professor.
The information was disclosed by a number of officials concerned on Wednesday.
According to sources, after being instructed by the forum users to murder Zafar Iqbal, Faizul joined a gym in the Medina Market area of Sylhet, for physical training.
The forum also provided guidance to Faizul, instructing him on how to carry out a lethal attack.
The youth then bought a commando knife from the Al-Hamra Market in Zindabazar area of Sylhet.
Sylhet Metropolitan Police Commissioner Golam Kibria said: “We have a strong suspicion that someone accompanied Faizul during the attack on Zafar Iqbal but the youth is refusing to talk about it, and is repeatedly claiming that he acted alone.
“However, he did provide us with some useful information, which is being scrutinized.”
The police commissioner said: “We now know some crucial information, such as the recent whereabouts of Faizul, where he bought the commando knife from and details about his plan.
“A drive to identify and detain his cohorts is currently underway.”
What is Dawah Ilallah forum?
An official of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit, on condition of anonymity, said: “Faizul admitted during interrogation that he was a member of an internet forum named Dawah Ilallah.
“The forum labeled Zafar Iqbal as an atheist, and held frequent discussions on possible ways to murder him. Faizul volunteered to kill the professor. The forum users than began to train and guide the youth through forum discussions.”
The official further added: “With the help of virtual discussions, Faizul was taught to attack targets on their heads and at the back of their necks for a quick death. Based on the training, he attacked Zafar Iqbal on his head and neck.”
Meanwhile, a number of officials concerned have confirmed that Dawah Ilallah is an internet forum run by banned terror groups Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) and Ansar al-Islam.
Also Read- ‘I attacked Zafar Iqbal because he is an enemy of Islam’
The forum can only be joined through invitation, after a rigorous verification process by existing members.
Sources confirmed that previously arrested members of ABT and Ansar al-Islam also confessed about using the
Dawah Ilallah forum to carry out their organizational activities.
Several similar websites and forums have already been shut down by the authorities previously.
Doing what the internet says
According to sources from the CTTC and Sylhet Metropolitan Police, Faizul began a reconnaissance mission soon after volunteering to murder Zafar Iqbal.
He used a bicycle to stake out the Shahjalal University's campus for several days.
Under the forum users’ guidance, Faizul joined Gym Craft, located in the Medina Market area on August 31, 2017, but, he continued for only three days.
Faizul rejoined this gym one month before the attack and exercised regularly.
Responding to a query, CTTC Deputy Commissioner Mohibul Islam Khan said: “So far the information gleaned from Faizul points that he was self-radicalized. However, he was a frequent user of online forums run by ABT and Ansar al-Islam.
Also Read- Attack on Zafar Iqbal: Protest continues at SUST
“He might have been motivated by the discussions in forum about users plans to kill Zafar Iqbal.”
The deputy commissioner added: “We have identified several associated of Faizul, who was in frequent contact with him. A drive is underway to arrest them. We have also identified a man named Sumon, who is currently on the run. Faizul wanted his sister to marry Sumon.
“Faizul’s brother Enamul, who has electronic devices used by the culprit, is also on the run.”
Where are Faizul’s electronic devices?
Officials concerned have stated that they are on the hunt for every electronic device used by Faizul.
But, Faizul’s brother escaped with these devices soon after the failed attack on Zafar Iqbal.
According to sources, Enamul has a mobile phone and a tablet computer that belongs to faizul.
Law enforcers believe that the youth used the tab to visit the Dawah Ilallah forum and used Telegram, a messaging application offering encrypted communication.
An official concerned, preferring to be anonymous, told the correspondent: “Electronic device belonging to Faizul has already been found and analyzed.
“The device contained videos of terror groups, such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State, and militant propaganda material.”
On March 3, Zafar Iqbal was speaking at a two-day long fair organized by the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He was stabbed at the back of his head by an assailant armed with a knife during that event.
The attack occurred around 5:40pm. The attacker, a youth identified as Foizur, was immediately taken down and detained by authorities after a severe thrashing.
Also Read- Attack on Zafar Iqbal: Who is Faizul?
Zafar was taken to Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College after the attack afternoon.
From there, he was taken by an air force ambulance to the air force’s Tejgaon air field in Dhaka, and then taken to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH).
The professor was shifted from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to a cabin on Wednesday after his physical condition improved.
A team of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC) is currently in Sylhet to interrogate the attacker.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com