Four operatives of the banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) took part in the killing of Rajshahi University teacher Prof AFM Rezaul Karim Siddiquee, police claimed.
They planned to kill Prof Rezaul on April 16, but could not execute the plan due to lack of coordination among themselves, said Rajshahi Metropolitan Police (RMP) Commissioner Md Shamsuddin at a press briefing at the RMP headquarters yesterday.
As the professor used to go to the campus almost every day, the JMB men chose Saturday to kill him since streets usually have fewer people on that day, he said.
After getting the order for the killing, the four went to Rajshahi and took shelter in some houses in the city's Kharkhari area. They observed his movements and planned the execution, he added.
Of the four, Maskawat Hasan alias Sakib alias Abdullah was arrested in Gaibandha on Sunday night. The three other killers who were directly involved in the attack were yet to be arrested, police said.
Sakib, a student of Rangpur Polytechnic Institute, was placed before the court of Rajshahi Metropolitan Magistrate Khalid Hasan on Monday afternoon and he gave a confessional statement, they added.
Following his confessional statement, law enforcers arrested three more JMB operatives in the city's Kharkhari area on Monday night, said Shamsuddin. The RMP chief, however, did not disclose their identities “for the sake of investigation”.
He said the three were placed on a five-day remand each yesterday.
The trio provided shelter to the killers but did not directly take part in the killing, the RMP boss claimed.
Based on Sakib's information, Police seized a motorcycle, which was used by the attackers at the time of the murder, from a house in Kharkhari area.
A machete and a cleaver were also found there but Sakib claimed that those were not used in the killing, Shamsuddin said.
Sakib in his statement said they were being called Eshabi in Arabic by their outfit members. They only executed orders of their high-ups, he claimed.
“We asked him [Sakib] the reason for killing Prof Rezaul but he could not tell ... 'We only execute orders,' he said,” the RMP boss quoted him as saying.
“Sakib provided a detailed account of the murder and he also told how they planned the murder, when they executed it and who were involved … he told us everything,” he claimed.
Of the four, three hacked him to death while the other was waiting with a motorcycle, Shamsuddin said.
Sakib also hit the professor with a machete. After the murder, he left the scene on the motorcycle, the RMP official claimed.
He, however, could not specifically say how the two others left.
Sakib told the police about the places they took cover in and who had helped them.
“We are trying to arrest those involved, including the three other killers, and the people who planned the murder and assisted,” Shamsuddin said.
“It's our achievement that we managed to get all necessary information on the killing within 24 days.”
He urged all to keep faith on police. “We will arrest all the culprits one by one, find out the real motive behind the killing and remain engaged with the case until its trial ends.”
Replying to a query, Shamsuddin said Sakib did not confess to his involvement in any other killings, “yet we believe he might be involved since he was one of the executioners”.
Unknown assailants hacked to death Prof Rezaul on the morning of April 23 when he was waiting for the university bus in Shalbagan area of Rajshahi city.
His son Riyasat Imtiaz Shourav filed a case with Boalia Police Station accusing unnamed people for the murder.
Law enforcers have so far arrested seven people in connection with the killing.
JMB ACTIVITIES ON
At yesterday's briefing, RMP Commissioner Shamsuddin held the JMB responsible for the murder of Prof Rezaul. He claimed that despite a ban, the JMB was continuing with its criminal activities and following a secret chain of command.
The outfit now maintains strict secrecy among its members who are divided into so many groups that they hardly know each other, he said, quoting the information gleaned from the arrestees.
They use motorcycles for their “operations” and use sharp weapons, particularly machetes, to kill the target. The murder followed a similar pattern witnessed in the recent killings of bloggers and online activist, he said.
They work in teams in a synchronised way to commit crimes and they have developed a separate communication network using different code names. This is why Sakib got two names -- Abdullah and Masud, claimed Shamsuddin.
Atheists, foreigners, and those who converted to other religion from Islam are the main targets of the JMB men. Law enforcers and journalists are also on their hit list, he said quoting Sakib.
The RMP boss, however, claimed that Sakib could not specifically tell them the names of other targets as he said he was only one of the executioners and that he did not know about JMB's plans.
Sardar Tomizuddin, additional commissioner of the RMP, said, the JMB members are now communicating with each other on social media platforms using different codes.
“However, law enforcers managed to decipher some of their codes,” he claimed.
RMP Commissioner Shamsuddin claimed that the JMB executioners keep homemade bombs and grenades with them during operations to make their getaways easier.
The four JMB men had grenades with them when they killed Prof Rezaul, but they did not need to use them, he claimed.
However, police were yet to recover any of the grenades or other weapons used in the murder.
“We need more information on JMB's activities ... So, we need to quiz the arrestees,” he said.