The militants planned to get as close to the prime minister as they could
After a year of successful operations by the law enforcement against the New JMB, the terrorist group responsible for the July 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack, was almost decimated.
Its top leadership had either been captured or killed. Under a relatively new leader named Akram Hossain Niloy, who was arrested from Bogra on March 21 this year, the militants were trying to regroup and plan a major attack that would reestablish its prominence.
And on August 15, 2017, they got worryingly close to executing it.
A year has passed since the cornering of a New JMB suicide bomber in Hotel Olio International, and the subsequent explosion, about 500 metres from where the prime minister attended the National Mourning Day observations that morning.
The investigation into the incident is almost complete, police says.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia on Tuesday said: “We arrested 14 people allegedly involved on this incident. Of them, 10 gave confessional statements to the court.”
A Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit official involved in the investigation said the New JMB, which was cornered by a series of raids since the Holey attack, wanted to make a comeback and chose the National Mourning Day to do it.
CTTC officials said according to interrogation of detained militants, confessional statements in the court and intelligence reports, the militant Saiful, who was chosen for this suicide mission, came to Dhaka’s Mirpur from Khulna and stayed there till August 14, when he picked up the bomb from Abduallahpur. The bomb, they said, had been made in and delivered from Mymensingh’s Trishal.
Saiful checked in to Hotel Olio International the same day. His instructions were to carry out the blast when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Dhanmondi 32, getting close to the ruling party men and law enforcement officials who would throng the Russel Square, taking out as many people as possible and causing a stampede.
It was local police who found Saiful in the hotel during a raid, only hours before the prime minister’s scheduled visit, and locked him up inside his room.
When Saiful exploded the bomb inside his room on the morning of August 15, it took off the entire wall on the second floor.