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Bangladeshi-born Canadian ‘Mastermind’ of Dhaka Café Terror attack Tamim Chowdhury Dies in Shootout at Naryanganj, Bangladesh

Tamim Chowdhury, 30, and two unidentified suspects were shot dead while resisting arrest during a mid-morning raid by police and security forces on a house in Naryanganj, Bangladesh

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Map of Bangladesh where the terror attack took place. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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Naryanganj, Bangladesh, August 28, 2016: In a shootout with police near the capital on Saturday, the Bangladeshi-born Canadian leader of a militant faction who was the “main mastermind” of July’s deadly siege at a Dhaka café was killed with two other suspects in a shootout with police near the capital on Saturday, officials said.

Tamim Chowdhury, 30, and two unidentified suspects were shot dead while resisting arrest during a mid-morning raid by police and security forces on a house in Naryanganj, a district on the outskirts of Dhaka, according to authorities.

“This is a matter of shame for us that a notorious terrorist like Tamim Chowdhury resided near us,” Azizur Rahman, a resident of Paikpara, a section of Narayanganj where the gunfight took place, told a BenarNews correspondent at the scene.

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Chowdhury’s name figured prominently among at least 10 people identified by police as alleged “masterminds” of the July 1 terrorist attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant. Twenty hostages – mostly foreigners – were reportedly killed with machetes during the overnight siege in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter. The five alleged attackers were all killed when security forces stormed the restaurant and broke the siege on the morning of July 2.

The so-called extremist group Islamic State claimed that its fighters carried out the attack, but the government has since denied that a link exists between the siege and any transnational terror group. A recent edition of Dabiq, IS’s propaganda magazine, claimed that Tamim Chowdhury headed the group’s network in Bangladesh. After Saturday’s shootout, Bangladesh’s home minister and national police chief repeated earlier official denials about IS having any presence in the country.

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“Tamim Chowdhury is among the three militants killed today. We have yet to identify the two others, but we think [they were] his close aides,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters while visiting the scene.

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Chowdhury headed a faction of the home-grown militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB), known as Neo-JMB, police counter-terror chief Monirul Islam told BenarNews. Authorities had put a bounty of 2 million taka (U.S. $25,565) on Chowdhury’s head.

Apart from identifying him by name, police named one “Marjan” as among the other masterminds behind the plot, but they declined to disclose the names of the others.

The investigation into the café attack so far has yielded two suspects in custody. A British citizen and a Canadian resident, both of Bangladeshi origin and who were inside the café as the attack unfolded, are being held over allegations that they behaved suspiciously and may have abetted the hostage-takers – a charge that their families and lawyers have denied.

‘Free of another curse’: PM

Bangladeshi officials have said that JMB-linked militants were behind the attack at the café, an attack on the country’s largest annual Eid prayer gathering on July 6, as well as killings of religious minorities and other violent extremist acts.

Later Saturday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina praised the police and intelligence services for the operation that took out Chowdhury.

“The main mastermind of the Holey Artisan [attack] has been eliminated,” Hasina told reporters at her office, according to Agence France-Presse.

“The nation has become free of another curse,” she said, adding that the “elimination of the extremists” would bolster “people’s confidence.”

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The shootout came ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s scheduled arrival in Dhaka on Monday, where he is to hold talks with Bangladeshi officials about cooperation on security matters and other bilateral concerns, the State Department announced last week.

A dual U.S.-Bangladeshi citizen was among at least 17 foreigners killed in the café attack, and another national of both countries was among nine suspected militants killed in a police raid on a JMB hideout in Dhaka on July 26, Bangladeshi authorities said. Citing privacy laws, the U.S. embassy in Dhaka declined to confirm whether the slain suspect, Shehzad Rouf Arka, was an American citizen.

‘They refused’

Acting on a tip, the police and members of the Rapid Action Battalion on Saturday morning encircled a three-story house in Paikpara, where the suspects were believed to be hiding in a second-floor apartment, officials said.

“They were asked to surrender, but they refused. Finally, the police carried out the operation and they died in the gunfight,” Inspector-General of Police A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque told reporters at the scene.

In rebuffing the call to surrender, the suspects opened fire and threw hand grenades at security personnel, said Sanowar Hossain, an additional deputy commissioner of the national police’s counter-terrorist branch.

Authorities said they recovered an AK-22 rifle and two live grenades from the second-floor apartment.

An area resident and construction worker, Ruhul Amin, said the suspects lived in an apartment next-door to his.

He had left his apartment early in the morning for prayers at the local mosque, and was returning home when relatives telephoned him to alert him to stay away from the building, where the standoff with police was unfolding.

He said he rarely saw his neighbors next-door.

“I saw two of them once on a Friday as they were taking in some goods, such as a gas stove. Today, we came to know that they are militants,” said Amin. (BenarNews)

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  • Randy Lahey

    Doesn’t surprise me, there are probably so many terrorists living in Canada. Justin Turdeau pretty much rolled out the red carpet and kissed boot so a bunch more savage islamists would move there to prop up the dying social communist system

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Violence And Intimidation Directed Towards Rohingyas In Bangladesh Camps

Human Rights Watch warned in a report in August that the Bangladeshi government was restricting access to basic services by resisting attempts by aid agencies.

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Rohingya, Violence
Rohingya refugees carry a hume pipe in Balukhali refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

The failed attempt to send thousands of Rohingya back to Myanmar starting this month has drawn attention to alleged violence and intimidation by security forces against members of the Muslim minority living in Bangladesh’s sprawling refugee camps.

Bangladesh has boosted its international reputation by hosting more than 730,000 Rohingya who fled a vicious campaign by Myanmar’s military last year that U.N. investigators have labelled genocide – an accusation Myanmar has consistently denied.

But Bangladesh appears keen to demonstrate that Rohingya refugees will not be welcome there indefinitely. The planned repatriations sparked fear and chaos last week as Rohingya went into hiding – and in a handful of reported cases attempted suicide – to avoid being sent back.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
Rohingya refugee children shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

Meanwhile, allegations of sporadic beatings, looting and intimidation by Bangladeshi soldiers, police and camp officials have underscored the bleak conditions faced by Rohingya in their host country, where most are denied official refugee status and face restrictions on freedom of movement.

The repatriation of some 2,000 refugees was scheduled to begin last Thursday, but Bangladesh has now put the plans on hold until next year after failing to find any Rohingya willing to go back.

Rohingya in the camps have told VOA that soldiers were stationed near the homes of those who were told they would be sent back last week, fueling fears of forced repatriation and adding to widespread distress in communities already suffering extreme trauma after last year’s violence.

One Rohingya man told VOA anonymously that block leaders in the camps were also “announcing with loudspeakers… that it’s essential for everyone to carry ID with them whenever and wherever they go if they leave their homes.”

Late last month, security forces looted property from Rohingya shopkeepers at the Balukhali camp, said John Quinley, a human rights specialist with the non-profit organization Fortify Rights.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
Rohingya refugees walk under rain clouds on June 26, 2018, in Jamtoli refugee camp in Bangladesh. VOA

“Right now the security forces are operating in the camps with total impunity,” he said.

In another case earlier this month, Fortify Rights reported that security forces rounded up 18 Rohingya leaders and slapped and hit some of them while telling them to instruct other refugees to cooperate with a new U.N.-backed project to provide them with “smart cards.”

Many Rohingya oppose the identity cards because they fear the information on them will be shared with the Myanmar government.

Bangladesh’s refugee, relief and repatriation commissioner, Abul Kalam, told VOA he was unaware of the allegations of violence but would follow up. “Generally, it is not acceptable that someone would apply force on or beat someone to do or not to do something,” he said.

Quinley called on the U.N.’s refugee agency to “do everything in their power to make sure that the Bangladeshi authorities are respecting human rights.”

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
An elderly Rohingya refugee holds a placard during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh.VOA

Spokesperson Caroline Gluck said the agency has notified the authorities of a “small number” of reports of violence related to the smart card project. The agency has “been following up with them to ascertain the circumstances of what happened,” she told VOA.

Officials have responded that the incidents were “not linked” to the smart card project, she said.

She added, “The new ID card will enable refugees to be better protected and will streamline access to assistance and services.”

Mohammed Sheikh Anwar, a Rohingya activist, told VOA the Bangladeshi government “needs to keep the lower-level authorities in check. There should be an accountability measure.”

“Committing violence against genocide survivors to make them agree to the authorities’ terms is not the solution,” he added.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
A Rohingya refugee woman draws water from a hand pump at a temporary shelter in New Delhi, India.

Last week a Rohingya man named Ata Ullah said he was beaten at the office of an official at the Chakmarkul camp, the Guardian reported, after he failed to provide the official with a list of refugees.

Ata Ullah said in a video circulated on social media that when he couldn’t provide the official with a list he “was beaten with a large stick… they stepped on my neck, I could not stand it.”

Also Read: Bangladesh Government Build a New Rohingya Camp

Human Rights Watch warned in a report in August that the Bangladeshi government was restricting access to basic services by resisting attempts by aid agencies and Rohingya refugees to “create any structures, infrastructure, or policies that suggest permanency.”

As a result, the report said, “refugee children do not go to school, but rather to ‘temporary learning centers,’ where ‘facilitators,’ not ‘teachers,’ preside over the classrooms. The learning centers are inadequate, only providing about two hours of instruction a day,” the report said. (VOA)