Escaped convicted militants out of reach even after 15 months

(From L-R) Moinul Hasan Shamim alias Sifat Samir and Md Abu Siddique Sohel alias SakibCollected

The two death row convicted militants, who were snatched away from police custody from the premises of a Dhaka court, have not been arrested even after 15 months. The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the police is investigating the case filed over the incident.

They say the two escaped militants, who were snatched away from the police, are still in the country. Efforts are on to arrest them.

The two militants -- Moinul Hasan Shamim alias Sifat Samir and Md Abu Siddique Sohel alias Sakib -- were snatched away by other militants from the premises of Dhaka Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Court on 20 November 2022.

The two were sentenced to death in cases filed over the murder of Jagriti Prokashoni’s Foysal Arefin Dipan and blogger Avijit Roy. The police have arrested some 20 persons in connection with the incident.

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According to the sources involved with the investigation, the two militants took shelter in Narayanganj after escaping from the police custody in Dhaka for some time. They moved to Savar in Dhaka right before the police conducted a drive in Narayanganj. They also fled from Savar before police raided the place they were living in.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, CTTC chief additional commissioner Asaduzzaman told Prothom Alo, “We haven’t been able to arrest the snatched away militants as yet. We have raided several militant hideouts based on specific information but the militants somehow managed to escape right before the police operations. The persons arrested from these hideouts admitted that the escaped persons stayed there.”

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Sources relevant to the investigation say the two militants have shaved their beard and attire to evade arrest. They forge fake identity cards and rent flats showing those fake documents.

How it happened

The Anti-terrorism Special Tribunal in Dhaka set 20 November, 2022 as the date for indictment in a case filed under the Anti-terrorism Act with the Mohammadpur police station in the capital.

On that day, the members of police were taking eight militants to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court in Dhaka from Anti-terrorism Special Tribunal.  As soon as they reached the main entrance of the CMM Court, two handcuffed militants attacked the police member in charge of their security and within seconds other militants nearby joined the attack.

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As some other members of the police came forward to save their colleague, the militants used pepper spray on them and fled the scene with the two handcuffed militants through the lane opposite to the main gate of the CMM court.

These two militants were members of banned militant outfit Ansar Al Islam (formerly known as Ansarullah Bangla Team).

20 arrested

The court’s prosecution department’s police inspector Julhas Uddin Akanda filed a case over this on that very day of the incident.

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According to the case statement, Ayman alias Moshiur Rahman, 37, Sabbirul Haque Chowdhury alias Akash alias Konik, 24, Tanveer alias Samshed Mia alias Saiful alias Tushar Biswas, 26, Riazul Islam alias Riaz alias Suman, 26, and Md Omar Farooq alias Noman alias Ali alias Saad, 28, took up the plan to attack police to snatch away the accused at the plan and instruction of Ansar Al Islam militant wing leader Mohammad Ziaul Haque alias Sagor alias Big Brother alias Major Zia (sacked).

To carry out their plan, five to six members of the Ansar Al Islam took positions on two motorcycles in the area. Besides, another 10-12 members also took positions in front of the court's main gate and nearby area. They then snatched the accused from the police.

Investigating agency CTTC said 20 people have been arrested in this case so far.

CTTC sources said 12 out of those 20 have been named in the case while the remaining ones were arrested based on the information collected during the investigation. Two of those militants – Husna Akter and Bakhtiar Rahman – gave confessional statements in the court.

* The report, originally published in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu and Hasanul Banna