A fugitive convict in the August 21 grenade attack case was arrested from his hideouts in Diabari area of the capital early on Tuesday.
The arrested is Iqbal Hossain alias Jahangir and Selim, a militant ofHarkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh (HuJI), who was awarded life in prison in the case.
Iqbal hurled powerful grenades at the stage of anti-terrorism rally of Awami League on August 21 in 2004, said RAB Director General Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun.
He said this while briefing journalists at RAB Kawran Media Centre in the capital at noon.
The RAB officer said the 47-year-old notorious militant directly hurled grenades targeting the stage of Bangladesh Awami League’s rally as per directive of militant leader Mufti Hannan.
After the attack, he went into hiding. During his fugitive life, he worked as a security guard, labourer, rickshaw mechanic and others, he said, adding that at one stage, he left the country for Malaysia by making a passport using fake name and address.
“In the end of 2020, the Malaysian government sent him back to Bangladesh as an illegal expatriate. The information by the National Security Intelligence (NSI) helped the intelligence section of the RAB arrest him,” he said.“During primary interrogation, Iqbal said that he passed HSC from Government KC College in Jhenaidah. During student life, he joined in Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) politics. In 1994, he was elected as ‘Class Representative’ of the JCD panel of the college student council,” he said.
He went to Malaysia in 1995 and stayed there until 1998, the officer said.
“After returning to the country, he began ISD phone and other businesses. At that time, he was locked in feud with ‘Sarbahara Party’ men and local influential people. In 2001, he joined the banned militant outfit HuJI. He received trainings on militancy after being a close aide to Mufti Hanna in 2003. As per the directive of Mufti Hannan, he came to the capital and stayed in secret hideouts in 2004,” he said.
The DG of the RAB said Iqbal participated in the grenade attack on the AL rally directly. Mufti Hannan provided him with grenades and he hurled the powerful bombs.
He said the RAB conducted several raids to arrest him. In 2008, the members of the elite force raided Jhenaidah, Gazipur, Savar and some other areas to arrest him, but failed.
Iqbal went to Malaysia again and he returned to Bangladesh at the end of last year.
In response to a question how it could be possible for a daring criminal to leave the country, the officer said: “We suspect that the chance of manual passport in 2008 helped him make one using fake name and address and leave the country. After going to Malaysia, he changed his name and address twice.”
At least 24 people were killed and around 300 injured in the grisly attack, also known as Grenade Attack on the rally in the capital's Bangabandhu Avenue on August 21, 2004.
Sheikh Hasina, the then opposition leader in parliament, narrowly escaped the attack with an ear injury.
The grenade attack, masterminded by some BNP leaders, is one of the most shocking political crimes in the country's history.
A Dhaka court on October 10, 2018 sentenced 19 persons, including former State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar, to death and 19 others, including BNP Acting Chairperson Tarique Rahman, to life imprisonment.