A fugitive convict, who was sentenced to death in the blogger Rajib Haider murder case, has been arrested from the Uttara area in Dhaka.
The Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit arrested death row convict Redwanul Azad Rana and his associate Ashraf around 2pm on Monday.
DMP Deputy Commissioner Masudur Rahman confirmed the arrest to the Dhaka Tribune the same day.
Former North South University student Rana had fled Bangladesh before the trial and was convicted in absentia.
CTTC Chief and Additional Commissioner Monirul Islam told this journalist that Redwanul Azad Rana is a so called “big brother” and organiser of militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team and a mastermind of the Rajib murder. He was first identified in 2013 and fled to Malaysia in 2014. Though he hails from Feni, he made a fake passport with an address in Gazipur and left the country with a student visa, after his real passport had been flagged.
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The CTTC Chief said: "We were in contact with Malaysian Intelligence in order to inform them of Rana's probable location and profile. After they identified him, Rana was deported to Dhaka. When he arrived, we followed him from the airport and arrested him, along with his associate Ashraf, in Uttara today (Monday). Ashraf is also a militant activist."
Monirul added that Rana had been planning to join Islamic State (IS), as he had gained interest in the Syria-based militant organisation through association with runway terrorist Junun Shikdar.
"We had arrested Junun earlier, but he fled Bangladesh to Malaysia after receiving bail from the court. We had known that he is now in Syria," he said.
The CTTC chief expanded that Rana had pledged to Junun that he would join IS while the latter was still in Malaysia. Rana and Ashraf were both attempting to go to Syria, however, after their attempt failed they turned their sights towards gaining training from Abu Sayyaf, a violent militant group based in the Phillipines. Malaysian Intelligence identified the duo and deported them before they could follow through with the plan.
Monirul further said that Rana may have been involved in a number of militant incidents, with evidence linking him to at least three by early 2015. Subsequently, Rana may have dialed back his activities with Ansarullah as he sought to join IS.
In addition, Monirul said that police were as yet unaware of how Rana obtained the passport or if he had any relation with Major Zia. However, they do suspect that Rana may have been involved in militant activities while in Malaysia, and such details would emerge later in the investigation.
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On December 31, 2015, a special tribunal handed the death penalty to Md Faisal Bin Nayem alias Dweep and former Islami Chhatra Shibir leader Rana for masterminding the murder of blogger Rajib. They were also fined Tk10,000 each.
In addition, the tribunal sentenced 6 others to varying terms of imprisonment for the murder of Rajib on February 15, 2013, including a five year sentence for Ansarullah Chief Mufti Jashimuddin Rahmani.
On March 15, 2015, the DMP announced a bounty of Tk5 lakh for top Ansarullah leader Rana following the murder of Mukto-Mona blog founder Avijit Roy on February 26 the same year.
Rana, who had instructed to attack blogger Asif Mohiuddin, also made the plan to attack two teachers of Monipur High School, police said.
A new case will be filed against Rana and Ashraf under the Anti-Terrorism Act and a 10 day remand will be demanded, said the CTTC chief.