The charge sheet of the militant attack at Gulshan’s Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka has been finalised, according to investigators.
"The charge sheet of the Holey Artisan incident will be submitted this month," Dhaka Metropolitan Police counterterrorism and transnational crimes unit chief Md Monirul Islam told Prothom Alo.
The counterterrorism and transnational crimes unit has investigated the incident in which 20 people were killed, mostly foreign nationals and two police officials.
The charge sheet was prepared over the last month. As the incident is highly sensitive, the investigators are seeking the opinion of government high-ups before submitting the charge sheet.
Officials of the unit said no decision has been taken about whether to include the North South University part-time teacher Hasnat Karim in the charge sheet or not. The officials said the charge sheet may be submitted in the court this week if the government high-ups give their decision in this regard.
The officials engaged in the investigation are still undecided over implicating Hasnat Karim.
According to the investigators, evidence of involvement by 21 persons has been found. They carried out planning, preparations and training, arms procurement, coordination and attacks.
They said the number will be 22 if the decision is taken to include Hasnat Karim in the charge sheet.
Of the accused, 13 people have been killed during operations by the law enforcing agencies. The crimes of these dead militants will be mentioned in the charge sheet, but their names will not be mentioned in the section of accused. According to the law, the names of dead persons are not included among the accused.
Besides Hasnat Karim, five more persons have been arrested in connection with the incident and are now in jail. They are Jahangir Alam alias Rajib Gandhi, Rashed alias Rash, Sohel Mafuz alias Nasrullah, Raqibul Islam alias Regan, Mizanur Rahman alias Boro Mizan.
According to police, these five accused are important leaders and members of neo Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
Of them, Rajib Gandhi, Raqibul Islam and Mizanur Rahman have given confessional statements in the court.
The names of 21 persons have been revealed through their statements.
Of them, three JMB leaders--Hadisur Rahman alias Sagor, Shariful Islam alias Khaled and Mamunur Rashid alias Ripon are on the run.
Iraq and Syria based militant organisation Islamic State (IS) claimed the responsibility of a number of attacks including the attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery.
During the Holey Artisan attack, the photos of attacks and news were published on IS's own website. On the following day of the attack, photos of five militants were published claiming them to be members of IS.
Two Bangladeshi militants from the Syrian city Raqqa congratulated the attackers in a video message.
But the Bangladesh government from the very beginning has been denying the claim of IS. The investigators concerned also said they have not found the involvement of foreigners in the attack. They said the attackers were home-grown militants. Police call them neo JMB. The chief of neo JMB is Canadian citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury. He formed the neo JMB including the old militants after he returned to Bangladesh from Canada.
According to the charge sheet, the Bangladeshi Canadian national Tamim Chowdhury was the mastermind and coordinator behind the Holey Artisan attack and Nurul Islam aka Mazan was the co-coordinator.
After completing the massacre, the militants used the hostages’ phones to take photos of the murdered victims and send them to Marzan, using the restaurant's Wi-Fi access.
Marzan was staying with Tamim at a house rented in Sheorapara.
Tamim sent the photos of the massacre to IS’ so-called news agency Amaq and at 1:30 in the night. Amaq in a tweeted message said that IS claimed that they had killed 22 persons in an attack on a cafe in Dhaka.
Investigation officials said that the photos were later recovered from the hostages' phones in a forensic test conducted by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
Rohan Ibne Imtiaz, Mir Sameh Mubasheer, Nibras Islam and Sameh Mobasser from Dhaka city, and Khairul Islam Payel and Shafiqul Islam Ujjal from Bogra took part in the attack directly. They were killed in an army commando raid on 2 July morning.
The five attackers who were selected by Shariful Islam alias Khaled and Jahangir Alam alias Rajiv Gandhi were trained by major (retd) Zahidul Islam, Regan, and Abu Raihan aka Tarik.
Software engineer Basharuzzaman aka Chocolate provided the attackers with other additional supports. He received two million taka from a Middle East country through illegal money transfer, ‘hundi’, for the attack.
Bank official Tanvir Kaderi helped the five attackers and other militant leaders rent houses in several areas. Neo-JMB shura member Sarwar Jahan was the religious trainer of the five attackers.
Hadisur Rahman aka Sagar, Sohail Mahfuz, Rashed, Boro Mizan, and Mizanur Rahman aka Chhoto Mizan were in charge of procuring weapons and explosives for the attack from India.
A certain Mamunur Rashid aka Ripon was present during a meeting in preparation of the attack.
Investigation official of the case and also CTTC deputy commissioner Muhammad Mohibul Islam Khan told Prothom Alo that a total of 30 witnesses including Tanvir Kaderi's minor son Tahreem Kader recorded confessional depositions in court. The number of witnesses in the case is around 200.
On 1 July 2016, five young men armed with guns and knives stormed upscale cafe Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan, taking dozens hostage and killing 22. Of them, 18 were foreigners. Some 31 policemen were injured in the incident.
All the five attackers were killed next morning in an army commando operation. A total of 32 people were rescued alive before and after the commando raid. Of them, Hasnat Karim was also there with his wife and children.
As Holey Artisan attack is a gruesome incident in the history of Bangladesh, the law enforcement is trying to make the investigation and charge sheet flawless, said investigation officials.
The officials are even thinking of publishing the charge sheet on website but for this they need the approval from the government high-ups.
Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) research fellow Shafqat Munir said it is hoped that a proper charge sheet with adequate evidences will be submitted at the court.
"A precedent has to be set to let the militant see that our social system and government system are far better than the social system they (the militants) want to establish through a misguided ideology," Munir said.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam and Imam Hossain