Bangladesh has released on bail a student of the University of Toronto who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a terror attack on a Dhaka restaurant in July in which 20 hostages were killed.
Tahmid Hasib Khan, 22, was released late on Sunday night from Dhaka central jail at Keraniganj after a metropolitan magistrate accepted his bail petition, senior jail superintendent Jahangir Kabir said on Monday.
Khan was arrested on August 3 over his alleged involvement in the gruesome attack, in which 17 foreigners including an Indian student were killed. He was seen on the rooftop with a firearm with an attacker and another top suspect.
At least five Islamist militants attacked Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant on July 1 when many foreigners and local diners were inside at the Gulshan diplomatic zone of Dhaka. The attackers also killed two police officials.
The terrorists released Khan before commandos conducted an operation on July 2 and killed all the five attackers. Before and after the commando operation, a total of 32 people had either been released or rescued.
Khan had returned to the country from Canada a day before the attack and went to the restaurant along with two female friends.
He was interrogated for two weeks in two spells of police custody as his movements during the attack were highly suspicious.
But on Sunday, police filed a report to the magistrate court saying they found no evidence against him. His rich family had earlier claimed that he was innocent and was just a victim of the situation.
Khan was earlier denied bail as he was kept in custody for questioning along with Hasnat Karim, another Bangladesh origin British citizen who is a top suspect in the case.
Khan, an undergraduate student of global health at the University of Toronto, had travelled home with a plan to visit Nepal the next day for an internship programme.
His release, however, has triggered some criticism in social media.
“Grandson of a rich man, Tahmid, has proved that money is everything,” wrote Shawan Mahmud, a homemaker from Dhaka, in a Facebook post.
“If money is used, the intelligence’s eyes get blurred despite Tahmid’s standing beside a militant (on the rooftop of the restaurant),” she wrote in reference to a photograph snapped during the siege.
The sunni extremist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack but Bangladesh government denied that. Authorities instead blamed local banned militant group Jamatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB) for the attack. A video purported to be released by the Islamic State in September featured the attackers.
Karim had lived in Britain for nearly 20 years and returned to Bangladesh a few years ago and started teaching in Dhaka’s North South University.
He faced investigation for his alleged involvement with a banned group Hizbut Tahrir. In 2012, he left the university to join a family business. One of the attackers was his student.