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Militant Khalid had close ties to Indian ISIS operative

  • Published at 11:48 pm January 26th, 2019
Rapid Action Battalion presents JMB operative Shariful Islam Khalid, death row convict for murdering a Rajshahi University teacher and an accused in the Holey Artisan terror attack case, before the press at its Media Centre in Dhaka on Saturday, January 26, 2019, a day after his arrest in Chapainawabganj Focus Bangla

In addition to being an accused on the charge sheet for the Holey Artisan Bakery attack, Khalid is also a death row convict for the murder of Rajshahi University (RU) teacher Prof AFM Rezaul Karim Siddique in 2016

It has been found that Shariful Islam Khalid, who was arrested by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) on Friday, as one of the last remaining accused in the case filed over the Holey Artisan Bakery terror attack in 2016, visited India on at least two occasions.  

In addition to being an accused on the charge sheet for the Holey Artisan Bakery attack, Khalid is also a death row convict for the murder of Rajshahi University (RU) teacher Prof AFM Rezaul Karim Siddique in 2016. Khalid’s aliases include Rahat, Saifullah, Nahid, and Abu Suleiman.

Although Bangladeshi authorities are yet to reveal the motives for Khalid’s visits to India, a 2016 investigation by the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) established a connection between Khalid and Abu Musa, alias Md Mosiuddin,  an Indian national and ISIS militant.

Musa was arrested in India’s West Bengal in July 2016, the NIA probe report said.

Musa and Khalid met through social media platform Facebook and were subsequently in regular contact through encrypted internet chat platforms such as Telegram, Chatsecure, Surespot, and Threema, the NIA found.

After his arrest, Musa told Indian investigators that Abu Suleiman (Khalid) had instructed him to carry out attacks on foreigners in India.

The NIA website lists Shariful Islam from Bangladesh among its most wanted.

According to NIA documents, Khalid met with Musa in India in March 2015 and May 2016. Khalid attended Musa’s younger brother’s wedding in March 2015, while he met Musa at Malda station and instructed him to carry out lone wolf attacks on foreign tourists in May 2016.

Also Read- Holey Artisan attack accused Khalid placed on six-day remand

Upon Khalid’s instructions, Musa conducted reconnaissance missions in Srinagar with the aim of killing foreigners in May 2015, while Khalid had directed him to attack foreigners in Kolkata in May 2016.

An Indian court has charged Khalid for criminally conspiring with Musa and others to carry out subversive activities against the Government of India.

Khalid played key role in forming Sarwar-Tamim group

Khalid became involved in extremism through his friend Ahsan Habib Shovon. The two  lived together in a mess while they were studying at RU in 2013.

At a press briefing on Saturday, RAB Legal and Media Wing Director, Mufti Mahmud Khan, said Khalid and Shovon used to work towards recruiting educated young people to extremism through the internet. Shovon introduced Holey Artisan Bakery attack mastermind Tamim Chowdhury to Khalid during their time at RU.

Whenever Tamim visited Rajshahi, he preferred to stay at Khalid and Shovon’s mess, the RAB official added.

Later, Khalid played a key role in bringing Sarwar Jahan and Tamim Chowdhury together under the same militant platform. 

Also Read- Fugitive Holey Artisan attack accused Khalid arrested in Chapainawabganj

Khalid, Sarwar Jahan, Tamim Chowdhury, Saddam, Marjan, Shakib Master, and other suspected militants held a meeting at Mamunr Rashid alias Ripon’s house in Bogra in 2015. In another meeting, at a dormitory in Gaibandha in February 2016, the Holey Artisan Bakery attack was planned.

Why did Khalid murder Prof Rezaul?

During interrogation, Khalid told RAB officials that he killed RU professor Rezaul on the instruction of an ameer of JMB.

Khalid conducted reconnaissance of the RU area before the attack, and fled to Dhaka the day after killing the teacher, RAB officials said.

Holey Artisan attack: Tk39 lakh came from the Middle East

After fleeing to Dhaka for a few days, Khalid went into hiding in India under instruction from the JMB ameer. Ripon, who is also an accused in the Holey Artisan Bakery attack and was arrested by RAB from Gazipur on January 19, accompanied him.

According to RAB, the two arranged for Tk39 lakh to be sent to Sarwar Jahan from the Middle East to fund the Holey Artisan Bakery attack.

However, RAB Director Mufti said specifics on who sent the money and from where, are yet to be confirmed. 

Mufti Mahmud Khan further said Khalid and Ripon have been trying to reorganize JMB by recruiting new members after the deaths and arrests of many leaders of the militant outfit in law enforcement operations.

Who is this Khalid?

Born in 1991 in Bagmara upazila of Rajshahi, Khalid completed his SSC exams from Bagmara Pilot High School in 2008, and his HSC exams from Rajshahi Government City College in 2010.

Being a meritorious student, he studied English at RU.

What happened at Holey Artisan?

On July 1, 2016, gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s Gulshan area and opened fire. The attack claimed the lives of 22 hostages, including 17 foreign nationals, as well as two policemen.

In July 2018, police submitted the charge sheet in the case filed over the attack, naming eight accused.

A total 21 members of militant outfit New JMB, a faction of JMB, were found to have been involved in the planning and execution of the attack, according to the charge sheet.

In November 2018, a Dhaka court framed charges against the eight accused. With the latest arrests, all the accused named in the charge sheet are now in police custody.