DHAKA – A Bangladeshi academic believed to have played a role in planning a July 2016 terror attack in Dhaka that killed 22 people, including seven Japanese, is being detained in northern Iraq, a Bangladesh intelligence official said Monday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said information received through informal channels suggests that Mohammad Saifullah Ozaki, who once taught at Japan’s Ritsumeikan University, is being held in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah.
Ozaki, alias Sujit Debnath, was among 10 Bangladeshi militants who surrendered to the Kurds in the former Islamic State stronghold of Baghouz, Syria, after it fell to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on March 15, according to the information.
Aside from the Dhaka attack, he also is believed to have played a role in recruiting Bangladeshi youths to fight for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
On the night of July 1, 2016, five militants stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s posh Gulshan area and took several dozen people, including 18 foreigners, hostage.
Twenty hostages, including seven Japanese and nine Italians, were killed as the terrorists sprayed them with bullets indiscriminately and slit their throats. Two policemen were also killed in the incident, as were all the militants.