Banned militant outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen’s top explosives expert, wanted in India in the 2014 Burdwan blast case, was on Saturday arrested in Bangladesh, a year after the deadly Dhaka Cafe attack for which he allegedly supplied grenades. Sohel Mahfuz, said to be one of the top planners of the 2016 Dhaka cafe attack, was arrested along with three other suspected members of the neo-JMB by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit from Chapainawabganj district in northern Bangladesh last night, police said.
Sohel is the top explosives specialist of Neo-JMB and a key arms and explosives supplier for the banned outfit, the Dhaka Tribune reported. According to investigators, Mahfuz supplied explosives used in the Dhaka cafe attack. It is also believed that he is one of the founding members of the old JMB.
Mahfuz was wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for the blast at Khagragarh in Burdwan district of West Bengal on October 2, 2014, the daily said. Police said the three others detained have been identified as neo-JMB chief coordinator Jamal alias Mustafa, its IT expert Hafizur Rahman alias Hasan and Jewel alias Ismail.
They were arrested from an orchard in Kansat under Shibganj upazila. “Acting on a tip-off, a CTTC team was able to arrest them on Friday night,” CTTC Additional Deputy Commissioner Abdul Mannan was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune.
On July 1, 2016, Bangladesh witnessed the deadliest terror attack in its history as armed militants entered an upscale eatery in Dhaka’s diplomatic hub and killed 22 people, including 17 foreigners and two policemen.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Dhaka attack but authorities blamed JMB. Mahfuz, who lost a hand while making bombs, thereby earning him his title ‘Hatkata’, has managed to evade arrest for almost two decades.
Since the Dhaka attack, police and other security agencies have begun a manhunt and raided numerous places across the country. Some 60 suspects, including some JMB commanders, have been killed in raids across Bangladesh since July 1.