Attack on Bernicat's convoy: Police arrest Badiul Alam's relative Ishtiaq

Marcia Bernicat

The police have arrested Ishtiaq Mahmud, brother-in-law of Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (SHUJAN) secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar, in the case filed over the attack on the former United States ambassador Marcia Barnicat's convoy in Dhaka five years back.

He was arrested from the capital’s Mohammadpur area on Wednesday evening, according to sources at the Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s (DMP) Tejgaon Division.

According to the charge sheet, Ishtiaq was involved in the attack, in addition to other assailants.

A senior police official told Prothom Alo that they arrested Ishtiaq when he was planning to flee to evade arrest.

He is now at the custody of Mohammadpur police station and will be produced before the court on Thursday morning, he added.

Ishtiaq is one of the nine accused in the case filed by Badiul Alam Majumdar.

Hours prior to the arrest, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court in Dhaka took cognizance of the charge sheet submitted by the police in the case and issued an arrest warrant against Ishtiaq Mahmud.

On 19 September, the Detective Branch (DB) police submitted the supplementary charge sheet to the court, indicting Ishtiaq and eight other individuals. According to the charge sheet, the allegations brought against them have been substantiated in the initial investigation.

Apart from Ishtiaq, the other accused include Naimul Hasan alias Russelk, president of Mohammadpur unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League; Feroz Mahmud, Mir Amjad Hossain, Saju Islam, Rajibul Islam, Shahidul Alam Khan, Siam, and Oli Ahmed, all are leaders and activists of the ruling party and the affiliated student front. The others are now out on bail.

The attack took place on 4 August, 2018, when Marcia Barnicat was embarking on his car after attending a dinner at the residence of Badiul Alam Majumdar in the capital’s Mohammadpur area.

In March 2021, the court framed charges against nine individuals in the case filed over the attack. The SHUJAN secretary then objected as Ishtiaq was not mentioned in the charge sheet.

Later, the state requested further investigation, saying that three people, including the plaintiff, testified involvement of Ishtiaq before the court, though the investigation officer excluded him from the list.

In response, the court ordered further investigation into the case on 28 December last year. The DB police dug into the incident and submitted a supplementary charge sheet to the court on 19 September.

Marcia Barnicat served as the US ambassador to Dhaka from 2015 to 2018. The US sought an effective and impartial investigation into the attack on her and repeatedly sought updates from the authorities in Bangladesh.

The US also issued a diplomatic note to the foreign ministry, saying that members of the ambassador's security team identified two of the attackers. During the attack, the two shouted claiming Badiul Alam’s involvement in anti-state activities. They even punched two security personnel after being barred from reaching the ambassador’s convoy. Later, they attacked the convoy with sticks while it was leaving the spot.

The government then issued a statement, describing the incident as unfortunate and assured of taking proper action after investigation.