B’desh dad shocked by son’s transition from fun-loving student to jihadi

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Dhaka
  • Updated: Aug 02, 2016 17:44 IST
Bangladeshi students and teachers hold placards as they form a human chain to protest against terrorism in Dhaka on Monday. (AFP)

Towhid Rouf, the father of a suspected militant killed in a police raid last week in the Bangladeshi capital, said on Tuesday he was shocked to learn his music-loving son had become a member of a radical group.

His fears came true when police told him his son, Shazad Rouf Orko, was one of nine suspected militants gunned down when security forces raided an apartment in a multi-storey building in Dhaka’s Kalyanpur area last Tuesday.

“I can’t believe it. This is too shocking for me!” Rouf told Hindustan Times. “My world has been turned upside down.”

Orko, an MBA student of Dhaka’s elite North South University, went missing in February and his father filed a complaint with police. There had been no trace of him since then.

“He was a smart boy, a very smart boy. He used to play guitar very well and sing both Bangla and English songs very well. I can’t understand how a young man like him becomes a radical,” Rouf said.

Police said 24-year-old Orko was a US citizen as he had an American passport that was shown to authorities, but his father would not confirm that.

After Orko’s body was taken to a morgue along with those of the eight others, Rouf went to view it, accompanied by representatives of the US embassy. But the US mission and the state department too have not commented on the matter.

“It seems he is my son. Police have told me his fingerprints matched with the national identity card. I will take a few more days to go to the morgue again to confirm his identity,” Rouf said.

“Whatever, something wrong has happened to my son, that’s for sure. This is very shocking for my family.”

Rouf said he raised his son and two daughters in a culturally rich environment and his wife was a singer of Rabindranath Tagore’s songs.

“Tagore singers Rezwana Chowdhury Bonnya and other prominent singers are our family friends. My daughters are very open minded. One daughter dances Bharat Natyam and another sings very well. I play drums,” he said.

“Can you believe my son was a terrorist? How come? This is unbelievable. He grew up in a good environment, he got everything he needed as a child. He slept in an air-conditioned room, he drove an AC car.

“Without serious brainwashing it is impossible to make him a terrorist.”

One suspect was captured by police when he tried to escape and is being treated for bullet injuries.

Bangladesh has been struggling to counter radical Islamists who have launched a violent campaign in recent years by attacking foreigners, religious and ideological minority groups, secular bloggers and atheists.

On July 1, at least five militants attacked a restaurant in Dhaka’s Gulshan diplomatic area and killed 20 hostages, including 17 foreigners. Within days, another attack on an Eid congregation left three dead.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks but authorities rejected the claim, saying the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) was behind the assaults.

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