Bangladesh police on Saturday said that they have arrested a top Islamist militant accused of being one of the "masterminds" of the country's worst terror attack at a popular Dhaka cafe and plotting murders of religious minorities including two Hindu priests.
Islamic State-linked outlawed Neo-Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen recruiter Jahangir Alam alias Rajib alias Gandhi was arrested on Friday night from Elenga, some 120 kms north of Dhaka, Counter-Terrorism and Transnational police unit chief Monirul Islam told media.
He said that Alam was one of the "key players" of the July attack on Holey Artisan restaurant who were captured alive so far as "13 of the 17 militants who were presumed to have plotted the attack were killed in encounters so far".
"During the initial interrogation he has admitted to his direct link to plot of staging the attack on Gulshan's Holey Artisan and the subsequent Eid congregation in Sholakia," Islam said.
The official said the police investigations found that Alam was involved in plotting murders of 22 people including a slain Japanese national, a Hindu tailor, two Hindu priests, a village doctor, a Sufi Muslim, a professor of state-run Rajshahi University and several others in the past four years.
The development came two weeks after five suspected JMB operatives were arrested over plotting attacks on the New Year's Eve and 30-kg explosives were seized from them.
A breakaway faction of JMB constituted the Neo-JMB which was behind the July 1 attack on the Dhaka cafe in which 22 people, including 17 foreigners, were killed. An Indian girl was among those killed in Bangladesh's worst terror attack.
Police said Alam's name surfaced during investigations when they found that he served Neo-JMB as the commander of the outfit for the Northern districts.
The arrest was made a week after Neo-JMB's most wanted leader Nurul Islam alias Marzan and another extremist were killed by counter-terrorism forces in Mohammadpur Beribadh area of the capital during a pre-dawn raid.
Police had claimed that Marzan coordinated the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery.
Bangladeshi-Canadian Tamim Chowdhury, who was singled out by the police as the neo-JMB chief and the key player in the recent terror activities in Bangladesh, and two others were killed in a police operation in Narayanganj on August 27.
Last week, RAB arrested 10 people from different parts of Dhaka for their suspected involvement with the cafe attackers.
A dozen other top and second-tier leaders of the New JMB group are still absconding.