Bangladeshi Suspected of Training Militants in Dhaka Bakery Attack Is Killed
DHAKA, Bangladesh — The police in Bangladesh announced on Friday that they had killed Nurul Islam Marzan, who was suspected of guiding a team of militants through the deadly siege of a fashionable Dhaka restaurant last year, in an early morning gunfight.
Mr. Marzan was a close aide to Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, who had been identified as the top coordinator in Bangladesh for the Islamic State and the leader of a newly founded branch of the domestic militant network Jama’atul Mujahedeen Bangladesh.
The police said the two men worked intensively with the team of five assailants who burst into the restaurant and singled out foreigners and non-Muslims inside. Twenty Bangladeshi and foreign hostages and two police officers were killed, the most ambitious attack undertaken by Islamist insurgents in the region in recent years.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and celebrated Mr. Chowdhury and his team in promotional materials.
Mr. Marzan and Mr. Chowdhury, who were together on the night of the attack but not at the restaurant, spoke with the attackers three or four times during the siege, using telephones taken from victims or hostages, according to Monirul Islam, who leads the police counterterrorism unit in Dhaka, the capital.
The final conversation took place shortly before the five attackers left the restaurant and were killed by police gunfire, an indication of the role the trainers played in their lives, Mr. Islam said.
“Before death, if anyone knows they are going to die, he usually calls the nearest person,” he said.
The police have also said that the attackers sent gory photographs from the restaurant to Mr. Marzan, who forwarded them to others. The photographs were swiftly distributed through Islamic State social media networks.
Relatives of Mr. Marzan, who was from northern Bangladesh, told The Daily Star of Dhaka that he was a student of Arabic at the University of Chittagong but that he had fallen out of contact with them in early 2016.
Since July, the police have located and eradicated 20 safe houses used by four or five terrorist cells that were a part of Mr. Chowdhury’s network, Mr. Islam said. He said that 60 of the network’s members had been killed or arrested, leaving only a handful at large.
Mr. Chowdhury’s death was followed by a pause in attacks by militants in Bangladesh. Since 2013, assassinations and small-scale attacks had been taking place every few weeks, typically targeting foreigners or non-Muslims, including atheists.
On Dec. 24, a woman and man detonated suicide vests during a police raid on the outskirts of Dhaka. The police said it was the first time that a female terrorist had carried out a suicide bombing in Bangladesh.