The Dhaka Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit has arrested one of the planners of the Gulshan Terror Attack, Abdus Sabur alias Sohel Mahfuz alias Hatkata Mahfuz alias Nasullah, as well as three of his accomplices, from Chapainawabganj on Saturday, a year after the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery.
Sohel, who also goes by name of Hatkata Mahfuz - as he blew up his right wrist in an accident while making a bomb - is reportedly a top explosives specialist of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (New JMB) and a key arms and explosives supplier for the banned outfit.
The other detained are Jewel alias Ismail, Hafizur Rahman alias Hasan and Mostofa Kamal alias Kamal. The group was arrested from an orchard in Kansat under Shibganj upazila.
“Acting on an anonymous tip, CTTC, Police Headquarter LIC, Bogra and Chapainawabganj police jointly conducted a drive and were able to arrest the group on Saturday around 2:40am,” CTTC Additional Deputy Commissioner Abdul Mannan told the Dhaka Tribune.
During a press briefing on Saturday evening, at Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) media centre, the head of CTTC, Additional Commissioner Monirul Islam, said: “Hatkata Mahfuz was present during the meeting of the New JMB Sura Committee (highest ranking members) who planned the Holey Artisan Attack.
“Our investigation has found Hatkata Mahfuz played an important role in smuggling the bomb-making material and arms for the Holey Artisan attack.
“He will be shown arrested in the Holey attack case on Sunday and we will pray the court grants us a 10-day remand.
“The police were looking for 5 people in connection with the Holey attack. We just arrested one of them, Hatkata Mahfuz, while the rest - Basharuzzaman alias Abul Bashar alias Chocolate, Rasheduzzaman alias Rash, Hadisur Rahman Sagor and Mizanur Rahman alias Chhoto Mizan are still fugitives.
Hatkata Mahfuz was a most wanted criminal in India
CTTC chief Monirul Islam said Hatkata Mahfuz is Nasirullah alias Sahadat Sheikh alias Sohel is also wanted in India for the infamous 2014 Burdwan blast.
India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) had a Rs10 lakh bounty on him, he added.
Monirul Islam also said Hatkata Mahfuz escaped to India in 2006. From 2009 to 2014 he was the ameer of JMB’s Indian branch. Later, he became involved with the New JMB upon their request to join the organisation. He returned to Bangladesh in 2014.
Who is Hatkata Mahfuz?
Hatkata Mahfuz was with the JMB since its inception. In 2004, when Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) was formed by Bangla Bhai, Hatkata Mahfuz worked with the organisation in the Bagmara region. This is when he blew up his right wrist trying to make a crude bomb, to throw at an attack on a banned ultra-left militant outfit.
Since they were on law enforcement’s radar, Hatkata Mahfuz fled to India where he hosted many New JMB leaders from Dhaka.
After the Holey Artisan attack, Mahfuz was hiding from the police by staying in different parts of the country including Natore, Naogaon, Dinajpur and Chapainawabganj.
Source said he is married to two women and has seven children. One of his wives lives in Dinajpur’s Ghoraghat and the other wife lives in Chapainawabganj’s Shibbari area. Mahfuz spent most of his time with his wife in Chapainawabganj.
Musa asked for Hatkata Mahfuz’s blessings
New JMB top leader Moinul Islam Musa took Hatkata Mahfuz’s blessing before he died in the militant drive in Moulvibazar in May, said CTTC’s Additional Commissioner Monirul Islam.
Musa in his phone call had said that they were surrounded by police and there was no escape, and they will fight till death, and sought Hatkata Mahfuz’s blessings.
CTTC’s chief said because Hatkata Mahfuz was easily identifiable because of his disability. He usually never left the house but had people come meet him there.
Musa met with him before he died, and was given money to buy arms and explosives, police said.
He was always a rebel
Hatkata Mahfuz’s father is Razaul Karim alias Rajem Sheikh and mother is Monwara Begum. He was the fourth of 10 siblings. He comes from Sadipur village in Kushtia district’s Kumarkhali upazila.
His family says his real name is Abdur Subur Khan, alias Hasan. They do not know where the name Mahfuz came from. They said he studied till class 10 in Pabna District School. Known to be rebellious, he would repeatedly run away from home.
He went missing in 2005 but returned in 2008 with his right wrist blown off. When they asked him how that happed, he apparently told them it was an accident without divulging any other details about the incident.
His family said his younger brother Hafizur Rahman alias Shakib was arrested in connection to militancy last year and has been in jail since.