Hasnat, Tahmid sighted finally | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 05, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:07 AM, August 05, 2016

Hasnat, Tahmid sighted finally

Police say they were instigators of Gulshan café attack, court places them on remand

First, they were taken in by detectives for interrogation. Then they remained traceless for over a month. And finally yesterday they came into view when police produced them before a Dhaka court.

Police claimed that the two -- former university teacher Hasnat Karim and Canadian university student Tahmid Hasib -- “instigated” the Gulshan café attackers, and sought 10 days' remand for them.

The court granted eight days' remand for each.

Hasnat, who taught at North South University, was arrested from in front of Aarong in Gulshan around 7:25pm and Tahmid from Bashundhara Residential Area around 8:45pm on Wednesday on suspicion of having links with Gulshan attackers, police said.

The arrests were made under section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Neither of them is accused in the case filed over the attack.

“It appeared during primary interrogation that the said accused instigated the militant attack at Holey Artisan and kitchen restaurant,” reads the remand petition.

It said police needed to interrogate them “about patronising members of militant organisations, their connection with militant outfits and for arresting other terrorists”.

The development comes more than a month after police initially took them for questioning, after the 12-hour siege ended on the morning of July 2.

They had remained missing since with their families worrying about their fate.

Tahmid, a student of a university in Toronto, came to Dhaka a day before the attack on July 1, when armed militants held diners and staffers hostage in the café. 

The attackers killed 20 hostages -- nine Italian, seven Japanese, two Bangladeshis, one Indian and one Bangladesh-born US citizen -- and two police officers who tried to end the standoff soon after it began around 8:40pm.

Tahmid went to the restaurant with two female students of a private university.

They both survived the attack.

Islamic State took credit for the attack and published photos of the victims and the attackers within hours, but the government blames JMB, a banned militant outfit. 

Hasnat, who is also a British citizen, went to the restaurant with his wife and two children, family members said, adding they were celebrating the birthday of one of his daughters.

The attackers allowed the family to leave before army commandos stormed the café to end the country's deadliest militant attack and the first-ever hostage situation.

While police kept claiming that Hasnat and Tahmid were released after questioning, their families insisted that they never returned home and could not be reached by any means.

Contacted yesterday, Hasnat's wife Sharmina Karim said they were relieved a bit now that they knew he was under police custody.

“It is a relief that he is alive,” she told The Daily Star by phone.

The family will fix the next course of action and deal with the case after discussing with lawyers, she added.

Family members of Tahmid could not be contacted for comments.

THE REMAND PETITION

In the petition, Inspector Humayun Kabir of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit said there was “information” that the duo was loitering suspiciously inside the café during the siege and “developed intimacy” with the militants.

At 8:57pm, about 13 minutes after militants entered the upscale eatery, Hasnat downloaded Wikr -- a mobile app normally used by militants for communications, he said in the petition.

“The accused needs to be interrogated to know details about this and find out what information was exchanged by militants through the app and why Abul Hasnat downloaded the app at the time.”

Citing secret sources, it said Hasnat was a former member of the banned militant outfit Hizb-ut Tahrir while Tahmid worked as his assistant.

Defence lawyer Sarowar Hossain opposed the remand petition, saying it was needless because they had already been in police custody for 32 days. 

PRESS BRIEFING

Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (media) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), said Hasnat and Tahmid were arrested from the streets of Gulshan and Bashundhara.

All the survivors, including the two, were interrogated separately and then released, he claimed, adding that Hasnat and Tahmid were suspects as their body language during the siege as seen on video clips was unusual.

Also, their accounts of the incident were inconsistent, he added.

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