DHAKA – A Bangladeshi who was a former associate professor at a Japanese university is suspected of helping two extremists travel to Turkey via Japan last year, it was learned Friday.
Local police suspect the two used Japan as a stopping point on their way to an area of Syria controlled by the Islamic State militant group.
Mohammad Saifullah Ozaki, who was born in Bangladesh and taught at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto Prefecture, is suspected of supporting the entry into Japan of the two Bangladeshis by passing them off as students. After staying in Japan for a short time, they departed for Turkey, and then apparently traveled overland to Syria.
The police in May last year began investigating Ozaki for any suspected involvement in an attack by an Islamic extremist group that month. He was suspected of providing funds to the group.
Ozaki has been missing since he left Japan last year for Bulgaria with his family, the sources said. His wife is Japanese. Although born into a Hindu family, he converted to Islam around 2008.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack on a restaurant in Dhaka earlier this month that left 20 hostages, including seven Japanese, dead.
The New York Times reported that three people, including Ozaki, “acted as contact points between militants inside Bangladesh and organizers outside the country.”
Meanwhile, the Japan International Cooperation Agency announced Friday that all Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and senior volunteers have been withdrawn from the country for their own safety.
The Japanese victims of the July 1 attack were working on a project for JICA.
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