Gulshan terror attack suspect Hasnat Reza Karim, now in remand, was used by the attackers as a human shield, his wife Sharmina Parveen has claimed.
When the attackers found that Hasnat was in the Holey Artisan Bakery with his family, they chose him to do different tasks as the attackers knew Hasnat would not abandon his family in any situation, she said in a media statement yesterday.
Parveen, who went to the Spanish cafe with Hasnat and two children, also said that they would continue to cooperate with the police in their investigation to speed up his release.
She said that they had gone to the restaurant that evening to celebrate their daughter's 13th birthday.
“The children are Hasnat's life and he will never put us in danger. Once the attackers found out that we were Hasnat's family, they took advantage of it. They knew he will not abandon us. That is why they chose him to carry out several tasks during the night. That is why they used him as a human shield,” she said in the statement.
Parveen claimed that they were held at gunpoint while Hasnat was forced to follow commands from the attackers throughout the night.
“They threatened us with life … They made him give them his ID and mobile phone, and then used it to access the Internet,” she said.
Detectives interrogated Hasnat, his family and other survivors after they were released minutes before the commando operation on July 2. Even though others were released, Hasnat and another survivor – Tahmid Hasib Khan – were kept in custody at least for a week, according to police.
But the families claimed that they had no contact with the duo until the law enforcers arrested them on August 3. They were put on eight-day remand the following day. In the remand petition, police mentioned Hasnat as an active member of banned militant outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir and Tahmid as his associate.
Police also claimed that Hasnat had influenced the attackers to carry out the atrocities. He also downloaded WICKR ME, a secured private messenger, on his phone at 8:57pm – only 13 minutes after the attack was launched. The militants used the app to communicate with their seniors and send photos and videos of the attack.
The detectives say they will conduct a forensic test of the mobile.
They are also assessing the relaxed movement of the duo inside and on the roof of the cafe and Tahmid holding a gun during the hostage crisis, as seen in some photos and videos of the attack.
‘Hasnat was not terminated’
In the statement, Sharmina brushed aside rumours that Hasnat had been fired from North South University for militant connection as completely false.
“He retired from his position to help his father’s business as a civil engineer in 2013. In fact, the NSU released a statement clearing his name,” she said.
“We are all very tired and worried about him and we only want him back home with us. We are fully confident that any further investigation will exonerate him as he is innocent,” she added.
However, Belal Ahmed, deputy director of NSU’s public relations department, on Saturday said that in 2013, Hasnat and three other teachers of the university had been asked to resign because of their involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir. Hasnat was then working as a part-time teacher.
He left his full-time job at the university in 2012 and asked for a release order saying he wanted to concentrate on the family business, but continued till the spring semester of 2013. Hasnat joined the NSU business faculty in 2008.
Meanwhile, detectives yesterday said that they could say something about Hasnat and Tahmid’s involvement in the attack after their remand is completed.
“We are questioning Hasnat and Tahmid as suspects. A clear idea about their involvement can only be confirmed at the end of their remand,” said Saiful Islam, additional deputy commissioner of Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit.