Bangladesh police have arrested a wealthy businessman who was a senior member of a banned Islamist group that killed 22 people in the country’s worst terror attack at a popular cafe here. Imran Ahmed, the owner of a garment factory, and his driver Shamim Mia were arrested near the capital during a raid on Saturday, the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) said. Ahmed, 37, admitted to have funded the neo-JMB (Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh), which carried out the deadly attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery and Kitchen in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone last year, an RAB spokesman told reporters. The businessman was a member of neo-JMB’s policymaking body and played a key role in recruiting operatives. The RAB spokesman said Ahmed also admitted that he helped the militant group in procuring weapons and explosives. Arms and jihadi texts were also seized from them. Another RAB official familiar with the development said Ahmed was pursued by security forces for providing shelter to a JMB operative who had escaped a security raid two months ago in northeastern Sylhet city where four militants were killed. Two policemen had also died in that operation. Bangladesh has witnessed a number of Islamist attacks since 2013 on foreigners, liberals and religious minority with the Islamic State and the al-Qaeda making competing claims. The government has consistently dismissed their claims, saying foreign terrorist groups have no presence in Bangladesh and the attacks were carried out by homegrown outfits.
The deadliest terror attack in Bangladesh killed 22 people, including foreigners, when militants stormed the upscale cafe.
An Indian woman was among the victims. The country’s security forces have launched a major crackdown against militants, killing 70 extremists in the past year.