A Bangladeshi politician whose son was among the attackers who stormed a Dhaka cafe and murdered 20 hostages apologised on Tuesday to the parents of Tarishi Jain, the young Indian woman killed in the strike.
“An Indian girl was killed in the attack, I can only apologise to India and to her parents...I can only say I am an unfortunate father. I don’t have enough words to apologise,” Imtiaz Khan Babul said.
The Awami League leader told NDTV that his 22-year-old son Rohan Imtiaz, who was killed with the other attackers in a military operation that ended the siege of Holey Artisan Bakery, was “a topper in class and math, a football fanatic and a Man U supporter”.
“I identified my son from a picture released by the (Islamic State)...I was stunned ...,” he said, adding he had not seen Imtiaz since he left home last December. At the time, Babaul was in India with his maths teacher wife.
Babul spoke of his shock and horror on learning that his son was among the attackers. “Where did he get his training, where did he go during the last six months?” he asked.
“I don’t know what changed him. There was nothing that would suggest he was getting radicalised. He hardly read any religious books,” he said, adding he believed his son may have been “brainwashed” online.
After Imtiaz’s disappearance, Babul lobbied senior party officials to help find his only son and even scoured Dhaka’s morgues. As he searched, he met other families who had suffered the same fate.
“I met so many parents whose boys had gone missing,” he said. “Even yesterday, one of them was saying that I was lucky that I got the body of my boy. Some of them are not so lucky.”
Imtiaz, who graduated from Scholastica, an elite school in Dhaka, had said he was leaving for university when he left home on December 30 but did not return.
The 20 hostages killed included nine Italians, seven Japanese, a US citizen and a 19-year-old Indian student. On Tuesday the bodies of the Japanese victims arrived on a government plane in Tokyo. All had worked with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Authorities said an aircraft carrying the bodies of the Italian victims had flown out of Dhaka early on Tuesday.
Bangladesh’s foreign minister met diplomats on Tuesday following the attack, the worst by far targeting the international community in Dhaka.
Hundreds of foreign firms operate out of Bangladesh and its clothes manufacturing industry is the lifeblood of the economy, accounting for more than 80% of exports.
“We’ve raised our worries during the meeting. We discussed how to deal with the situation and ensure security for the diplomatic community and the foreign community here,” a foreign diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
The government says homegrown extremists were responsible for the deaths of some 80 secular activists, foreigners and religious minorities murdered over the last three years. It has repeatedly denied international jihadist networks have a presence in the country, even though IS and a South Asian branch of Al-Qaeda have claimed a number of attacks.