Dhaka: Acting deputy vice chancellor of a private university and two of his relatives have been arrested in Bangladesh for sheltering Islamists who carried out the country’s worst terror attack at a cafe here in which 22 people were killed by suspected Islamic State militants. Professor Uddin Ahsan of North South University (NSU) was arrested yesterday for renting out a flat to the Holey Artisan Bakery attackers.
“Our Counterterrorism and Transnational Crimes (CTTC) unit arrested him (professor)…he had rented out his apartment to the perpetrators of the attack,” a police spokesman told newsmen. He said despite police directives, Ahsan did not furbished the tenants details to the nearby police station when he rented out the apartment in May this year.
Ahsan is the acting pro-vice chancellor and dean of of North South University’s School of Health and Life Sciences while police said the two others were his nephew and the manager of the apartment complex he owned.
Another police officer said the anti-terrorism unit found sand-filled cartons at the flat. Police suspect the cartons were used to keep the grenades used in the July 1 attack that left at least 20 hostages, including an Indian, and two policemen dead. Security forces killed six persons in the raid at the cafe to free hostages.
One of the militants killed by police was a student of NSU. His family said he had been missing for months. Police earlier said one of the two detained hostages of the restaurant who were quizzed by security forces for their suspected terrorist links was also a former faculty of the university who was earlier sacked for involvement with banned radical group Hizbut Tahrir.
Police said they gathered information that at least two NSU students went missing and they suspect that they were recruited by the militant outfits like Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
“NSU is under the security scanner,” education minister Nurul Islam Nahid earlier this week said while the regulatory University Grants Commission (UGC) repeatedly visited the campus. Officials said the university came under scrutiny after Islamists slaughtered blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider in 2013. Police subsequently arrested six NSU students for their suspected links to the murder.
Ahsan’s arrest came hours after UGC team visited the NSU campus as part of a separate investigation into the links of its officials and students with terrorism. Meanwhile, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan along with chiefs of police, elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) today held a meeting with authorities of private universities against the backdrop of several of their students being linked to militant outfits.
“Our minister (Khan) is presiding over the meeting joined by vice chancellors of all private universities….they are exchanging views,” a Home Ministry officer said.