The planning went on for several months
Months went into carefully and elaborately chalking out the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery, Jahangir Hossain, one of the convicts in the case, said in his confession during the investigation.
From doing reconnaissance of the cafe to bringing in shipments of arms and ammunitions – they managed to do it all, whilst being under the radar of law enforcement agencies.
The verdict of the case, which was delivered at the Dhaka Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal yesterday, revealed the details of the plan based on the convicts’ confessional statements.
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Seven men were sentenced to death for their involvement in planning the attack, recruitment, coordinating and training the main operatives who carried out the attack, coordinating with the leaders, providing information to mastermind Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, supplying weapons for the attack, doing several rounds of reconnaissance at the cafe, and taking care of logistics.
They are: Md Aslam Hossain alias Rashed alias Ryash; Jahangir Hossain alias Rajib Gandhi; Abdus Sabur Khan alias Sohel Mahfuz; Hadisur Rahman Sagor; Rakibul Islam Regan; Shariful Islam Khaled; and Mamunur Rashid Ripon.
The eighth accused, Mizanur Rahman alias Boro Mizan, was acquitted of all charges in the case.
Recounting how they did it all, Jahangir said in Gaibandha in late February of 2016, he, along with Tamim, Major (retd) Zahid, Sarwar Jahan Manik, Abu Raihan Tarek, Nurul Islam Marjan and Shariful Islam Khaled first hatched the plan to launch a terror attack.
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They also decided then that Tamim would be the key coordinator of the attack.
Two months later, Khaled asked Jahangir to assign two youths to carry out a suicide attack. Jahangir sent Shariful Islam Don and Khairul Islam Payel alias Badhon, both of whom pledged allegiance to him.
Khaled at that time told Jahangir that he had four other suicide operatives: Rohan Imtiaz alias Swapan, Md Shafiqul Islam Uzzal alias Bikash, Nibras Islam and Meer Saameh Mubasheer.
The four youths, along with Don and Badhon, began training in Gaibandha’s Saghata upazila under the supervision of Tamim, Manik and Marjan.
Chhoto Mizan used to supply firearms and explosives to the training camp, with Boro Mizan’s help, Jahangir said.
In late May 2016, Abu Raihan Tarek and Marjan took the six operatives – Rohan, Uzzal, Nibras, Mubasheer, Don and Badhon – to a house in the Bashundhara Residential Area in Dhaka, where Tanvir Qadri, another militant, was living with his family.
Jahangir, upon Marjan’s instruction, moved to Dhaka a few days later. He visited Qadri’s house where the six operatives, as well as Tamim, Sarwar, Marjan and another militant Basharuzzaman alias Chocolate were there already.
Following Tamim’s instruction, Jahangir along with Nibras, Rohan and Marjan, visited the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan, Dhaka on June 27, 2016. The next day, he accompanied Badhon, Bikash and Chocolate for another visit to the cafe. The same night, they held a long meeting discussing the attack.
On June 29, 2019, Tamim, Rohan and Mubasheer visited the cafe for another reconnaissance mission. On return to the base, Tamim held an emergency meeting with the operatives, assigning Rohan, Nibras, Uzzal, Badhon and Mubasheer for the attack on Holey Artisan, appointing Rohan as the team leader.
In a meeting among Tamim, Manik and the suicide operatives on June 30, 2016, it was decided that Holey Artisan Bakery would be attacked the next day.
Getting the firearms
Jahangir said they had smuggled in at least three AK-22 rifles nearly a month before the attack with the help of militant Ripon.
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Chhoto Mizan had smuggled another three or four firearms, bullets and explosives from India. The cache of firearms, ammunitions and explosives was stored in Bashundhara.
The grenades used in the attack were made at Chocolate’s home in Mirpur. Those, too, were stockpiled at Tanvir’s residence, where the militants took shelter.
The last hours
After the plan was sealed on June 30, Manik led the militants in Zohr prayers, Jahanhir said in his confessional statement. Manik gave a sermon about the attack after the prayers, where he asked the five operatives not to be demotivated if any of them got shot.
“Never forget that we have nothing to lose,” Jahangir quoted Manik as saying, according to the verdict.
After the prayers, Tamim instructed Chocolate to buy five pairs of jeans and T-shirts.
Around 10am on July 1, 2016, Chocolate put the firearms, bullets and explosives into the bags for the attackers.
After that, the militants offered Jumma prayers together at Qadri’s house. Tamim then asked Jahangir to leave the house around 4:30pm.
Rohan, Nibras and Mubasheer were ordered to leave an hour later, followed by Uzzal and Badhon.
Tamim and Chocolate were supposed to leave the house at 5pm, and Qaderi and his family after a little while, Jahangir recounted.
Other convicts Ryash, Hadisur Rahman and Sabur Khan gave similar accounts of what went down during their interrogations.