You’ve heard of Nibras Islam and Rohan Imitiaz. Both men studied in Malaysia before graduating to become terrorists that took part in the attack that left 22 dead in the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Gulshan, Bangladesh.
Islam and Imitiaz were part of a list of 262 people, who have been reported as missing from various parts of Bangladesh in recent years. The list was released by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh police.
The RAB said that about 100 of the 262 are believed to have terror links, with the others possibly just running away from their families due to personal or financial issues. “It is not possible to say that they all are directly involved in militancy. We are not telling [sic] so either,” said RAB’s Mufti Mahmud Khan.
126 of the 262 went missing in 2016, with most aged between 21 to 30 years old.
But here’s the thing. According to the Daily Star, a handful of the 262—including Islam and Imitiaz—have worked, studied or holidayed in Malaysia. Which could turn out to be wholly unremarkable, of course, given the high volume of labour migration and tourism from Bangladesh.
One of these is Islam’s friend Tawsif Hossain also studied in Monash University, and like Islam, also went missing after returning to Bangladesh. Hossain was last seen in a video released from Raqqa congratulating his friend after the successful Gulshan café attack, along with one Tahmid Rahman Safi, also linked to Malaysia. Safi told his family he was about to come here for his honeymoon, but soon ended up in Turkey and subsequently, Syria.
Junnun Sikder, a student, Nazibullah Ansari, a marine engineer, and Mohammad Basharuzzaman, a private contractor, also came to Malaysia for work, and have not been heard of since.
The RAB list also includes a doctor, Rokonuddin Knondoker, who told his relatives he was visiting Malaysia with his family in July last year. All five members of the Knondoker family have not returned to Bangladesh. Police suspect that the entire family has been radicalised and living in Syria now.
But the most interesting of the lot seems to be Jubayedur Rahim, who was at one point kicked out of his Dhaka metal band for taking sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll too seriously. Before the band’s big shot at glory—a 2006 concert across the border in India—Rahim’s bandmates fired him for liking drugs a little too much.
A friend of Rahim’s interviewed by Bangladeshi media said that he started “doing whatever drug came his way” since his teens. Eventually, Rahim ended up pursuing a postgraduate degree in Limkokwing University of Creative Technology here.
Rahim never finished the degree, because he reportedly missed too many classes after discovering clubbing in Malaysia. Oddly enough, he eventually returned to Bangladesh in 2009 a deeply religious sort, much to the surprise of his friends and family, before going missing this year.