gulshan cafe attack verdict: Arrogance writ large
12:00 AM, November 28, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:07 AM, November 28, 2019

Arrogance writ large

Unable to hear the judge clearly, accused Mizanur Rahman, 63, thought he had been given the death penalty. From the dock, he let out “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) and called for the destruction of all “infidels”.  

He was louder than the other seven in the dock who too were saying “Allahu Akbar” when the judge was delivering the verdict.    

Mizan’s demeanour, however, changed dramatically when he learnt he was actually acquitted in the Gulshan cafe attack case yesterday.  

He then started saying, “I was not involved and that’s why I should be freed.”  

While Judge Md Majibur Rahman of the Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal of Dhaka was reading out the verdict, Mizan kept on saying, “I cannot hear what the judge is saying.”   

The dock was around 15 yards away from the judge. There were at least 200 people, including journalists, lawyers, and law enforcers, inside the courtroom.    

At one stage, Mizan, in his Chapainawabganj dialect, started asking people, “Hey brother, what does he [Judge] say?”  

Nobody responded.  

Within seconds of learning his fate, convict Jahangir Hossain alias Rajib Gandhi, one of the planners of the attack, let out “Allahu Akbar” several times.

  The other accused, except Mizan, followed suit. 

The seven convicts were nonchalant as they were handed the capital punishment. They showed no sign of repentance for their role in the killing of 22 people, including 17 foreigners and two police officials, on July 1, 2016.    

They were all smiles, some hugged each other, and were saying that they would go to heaven.   

But Mizan was still clueless about his fate. By that time, the verdict was delivered and the people in the courtroom were whispering about it. 

He kept on asking, “Hey brother, please tell me what the judge said. I could not hear it.” 

A man then mistakenly said, “Death for all.”  

Mizan then praised the almighty and expressed his allegiance to Jihad (religious war). 

“May Islam live long … May the infidel be destroyed. My name is Mizanur Rahman … I am the servant of Allah.”  

Mizan stopped only after a journalist told him that he had been acquitted. 

Suddenly, everything changed for Mizan. 

“It was supposed to be … I did not commit any crime. Why should I be punished?”  

“I repeatedly said I did not do anything. Allah has saved me,” he said.  

As one of The Daily Star correspondents there asked him why he was acting like that before, Mizan kept mum and hurriedly left towards the prison van with police escorts.  

Earlier at 12:01pm, police brought in militant Aslam Hossain Rash to the dock from the court prison. The seven others were later brought in.  

Some of the seven convicts while being taken to the dock, asked journalists to come closer and even exchanged pleasantries with them. 

Convict Hadisur Rahman Sagor greeted all inside the courtroom when he was brought in. He was the only one who claimed himself to be innocent and appeared a little tense.   

Putting his crutch aside, Rakibul Hasan Regan sat on a plastic chair he was given. After the verdict was delivered, he took out a cap with the Islamic State (IS) emblem from his pocket and put it on.

At least three of the eight were apparently uttering verses of the Holy Quran. 

After the verdict was delivered, some of the convicts were speaking loudly about being true Muslims. A lawyer then said, “You don’t have the right to speak about Islam. You are the enemies of Islam.”  

Three of the convicts -- Rajib Gandhi, Abdus Sabur Khan alias Hatkata Mahfuz, Shariful Islam Khaled -- then rushed towards the lawyer despite being in the dock. One of them threatened the lawyer with life while another pointing to the lawyer said, “How dare you say such a thing.” 

They were later escorted by police to the prison van.  

Several of them were seen shouting on their way to prison van.  

Standing in the prison van, Rajib Gandhi said they did nothing wrong.  

When a journalist asked what they belonged to, Rajib said they belong to IS.  

Law enforcers deny the existence of IS in the country and claim that the militants involved in the attack were of homegrown “Neo JMB”.

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