An Islamist militant leader, the prime suspect in the brutal murders of a secular blogger and a publisher in Bangladesh, has been arrested from the national capital, police said on Saturday. Khairul Islam alias Fahim, a leader of intelligence wing of the outlawed Ansar al-Islam also known as Ansarullah Bangla Team, was arrested from Kamlapur Rail Station area in Dhaka on Friday night, said Masudur Rahman, Deputy Commissioner of the Detective Branch of Police. Khairul, 24, was believed to be involved in the murders of Jagriti Prakashani publisher, Faisal Arefin Dipan and secular activist Niladri Chatterjee Niloy, besides scores of deadly attacks on secular activists and foreigners.
Khairul participated in the murders of Dipan and Niloy, Joint Commissioner Detective Branch of Police Abdul Baten was quoted as saying by ‘Dhaka Tribune’. Baten said Khairul admitted his involvement in the killings during primary interrogation. He said Khairul had joined the group in 2013 and the next year he met its senior leader Sayed Ziaul Haque, a sacked army major for his involvement in a failed coup in December 2011.
Khairul had started to collect information about the duo since January 2015 and provided it to the outfit’s Askari section (armed wing) to carry out the killings, he added. “Seeing CCTV footage, Khairul has identified four people involved in blogger and secular writer Avijit’s killing and we are analysing the information,” Baten said. Dipan was hacked to death at his office in Dhaka’s Shabagh area in broad daylight on October 31, 2015. The group had claimed responsibility for the murder. Niloy was hacked to dead at his residence on August 7 last year.
Bangladesh has seen a spate of gruesome attacks on secular activists, religious minorities, bloggers and foreigners, many of whom have been hacked to death with machetes. The country has launched a massive crackdown on militants after the July 1 Dhaka terror attack in which 22 people, mostly foreigners, were killed.