A Bangladeshi who was a former associate professor at a Japanese university is among the 10 suspects sought by Bangladesh police following this month’s terror attack in Dhaka, sources said.
Mohammad Saifullah Ozaki, who was born in Bangladesh, taught at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto Prefecture, but has been missing since he left Japan last year for Europe with his family, the sources said Wednesday. His wife is Japanese.
Ozaki, who had started teaching business administration at the College of International Relations in April 2015, has been absent without permission since January, the university said. He was fired in March.
It is unclear whether Ozaki, who is wanted for suspected links to the Islamic State group, had any involvement in the deadly terrorist attack on July 1 at a restaurant in Dhaka.
Bangladeshi investigators said police in Dhaka began searching for Bangladeshis suspected of being involved in an attack by an Islamic extremist group in May last year. The police started an open investigation in the wake of the restaurant siege in Dhaka in which 20 hostages, mostly Japanese and Italians, were killed.
The New York Times reported that three people, including Ozaki, “acted as contact points between militants inside Bangladesh and organizers outside the country.”
Japanese police had questioned Ozaki on a voluntary basis when he was in Japan, but they found no connection between him and any extremist group, the sources said, adding Bangladesh authorities have yet to contact their counterparts in Japan about Ozaki.
There is an unconfirmed report that Ozaki tried to enter Turkey and was rejected, the sources said.
Ozaki enrolled in Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, in 2002. He completed a Ph.D. program in Asia-Pacific studies in 2011.
According to The New York Times, Ozaki was born into a modest Hindu family in central Bangladesh and studied in Japan after earning a scholarship.
The newspaper quoted Ozaki’s father as saying that after going to Japan, Ozaki converted to Islam and changed his name.
His family found the conversion strange, and the father was surprised when during one visit home Ozaki arrived with a beard.
He was also shocked by the news that his son may have links to terrorists.
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