A Bangladeshi-Canadian suspected of heading the local Islamic State faction and a sacked army official were named on Tuesday as the masterminds of the brutal attack on a Dhaka cafe that left 20 hostages dead.
Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, the Bangladeshi-origin Canadian citizen, and former army major Zia Syed Mohammad Ziaul Haque were behind the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery in the elite Gulshan area, inspector general of police AKM Shahidul Haque told a news conference in Dhaka.
Though Chowdhury has been named by Bangladeshi officials as a leader of the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), leading counter-terror experts have identified him as the head of the IS chapter in Bangladesh. He is believed to have fled from Canada to Bangladesh in 2013.
The major was sacked from military service for his alleged attempts to organise coups in recent years.
The police chief announced a reward of 2 million takas each for information leading to their arrests.
Haque said nine suspected militants, who were gunned down in a police raid in Dhaka’s Kalyanpur area on July 26, were also connected with these two men.
In an overnight drive, security officials killed the nine militants and arrested one more as he tried to escape. The militant who was shot and captured is now being treated for bullet injuries.
Intelligence sources had said earlier Chowdhury held several meetings with the militants at Kalyanpur and went into hiding after the police raid.
The Islamic State claimed the responsibility for the July 1 attack on Holey Artisan Bakery but the government rejected it, saying the Sunni extremist group does not have a presence in Bangladesh. Authorities said the attackers belong to the JMB. Indian national Tarishi Jain was among the 20 hostages killed.