Dhaka: The wife of a Bangladeshi university teacher suspected to be one of the masterminds of the deadly Dhaka cafe terror attack has claimed her husband was being used as a human shield by the terrorists during the July 1 carnage.
Police maintain that Hasnat Reza Karim, of North South University, had influenced the attackers to carry out the terror siege that left 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, dead.
Police say that Hasnat had also downloaded WICKR ME — a secured private messenger — on his phone minutes after the terror siege was launched on July 1 at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan area of the Bangladesh capital city. He has been detained by police.
Hasnat’s wife Sharmina Parveen has told media that when the attackers found Hasnat and his family at the cafe that evening, they chose him to do “different tasks” as they realised he would not abandon his family.
According to Dhaka Tribune, Parveen said they had gone to the restaurant that evening to celebrate their daughter’s 13th birthday.
“The children are Hasnat’s life and he will never put us in danger. Once the attackers found out that we were Hasnat’s family, they took advantage of it. They knew he will not abandon us. That is why they chose him to carry out several tasks during the night. That is why they used him as a human shield,” she said.
Parveen claimed that they were held at gunpoint while Hasnat was forced to follow commands from the attackers throughout the night.
“They threatened us with life… they made him give them his ID and mobile phone, and then used it to access the Internet,” she said in a media statement.
Detectives interrogated Hasnat, his family and other survivors after they were released minutes before the commando operation on July 2. Even though others were released, Hasnat and another survivor — Tahmid Hasib Khan — were kept in custody at least for a week.
Their families claim they had no contact with the duo until the law enforcers arrested them on August 3.
Both were put on eight-day remand the following day. In the remand petition, police mentioned Hasnat as an active member of banned terrorist outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir and Tahmid as his associate.
Police claim that Hasnat was the main handler of the young attackers and was in touch with them during the attack. He is suspected to have maintained communication with the Bangladeshi and international handlers during the attack.
The cafe attackers had used the WICKR ME app to communicate with their seniors and send photos and videos of the attack.
The detectives say they will conduct a forensic test of Hasnat’s mobile.
The detectives are also assessing the relaxed movement of the duo inside and on the roof of the cafe, and of Tahmid holding a gun during the hostage crisis, as seen in some photos and videos of the attack.
Hasnat even completed his dinner with his family members inside the hotel, which has raised the police suspicion.