Dhaka: A Bangladeshi court on Sunday charged the chief of a militant group involved in the July 1 attack on a Dhaka cafe which killed 22 people, including an Indian girl, for plotting against the country’s sovereignty. “Ansarullah Bangla Team’s (ABT) chief Jasimuddin Rahmani and nine others were indicted while four of them appeared on the dock. Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge Kamrul Hossain Mollah fixed January 4 for the start of the trial hearing,” prosecutor Tapas Kumar Paul told reporters.
He said the rest of the accused were on the run and will be tried in absentia. Paul said the indictment came two years after the case was filed following Rahmani’s arrest and attributed the delay to the producers required to obtain the government clearance needed to try someone under the anti-terrorism law.
Rahmani is said to be the ABT’s so-called spiritual guru who was accused of inciting terrorism through his sermons. Earlier this month, police reconfirmed as ABT’s operational head a renegade army major, who is on the run with a bounty on head.
They said sacked major Syed Ziaul Haque was the key-mastermind of a series of murders of secular writers and bloggers in the country. Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said last month the police had found out the whereabouts of Zia and he could be tracked down anytime.
Police on August 8 this year announced the bounty saying anyone who could provide information leading to Zia’s arrest would be rewarded with a cash amount of Taka 20 lakh (USD 25,250).
ABT, said to be ideologically inclined to al-Qaeda, is one of the two still vibrant militant outfits with neo-Jamaatul Muhahideen Bangladesh (neo-JMB) being the other which carried out the July 1 attack on a Dhaka cafe, killing 22 people, including 17 foreigners and an Indian girl. Neo-JMB is the said to be the linked to ISIS.