Dhaka: A month before the terror attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant in the Bangladeshi capital, a consignment of AK-22 rifles and some small arms reached the militants in Dhaka hidden inside mango baskets, a media report said on Tuesday.
Of these arms, three AK-22 rifles were used in the attack on the Dhaka cafe, while another rifle was used for the security of cafe attack 'mastermind' Canadian-Bangladeshi Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, who was also the head of New Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) terror outfit.
Investigators say they have finally been able to trace the route of the smuggled arms, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
Sources in police's Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) Unit said these arms came from outside Bangladesh and the members of New JMB outfit used them in terror attacks, in Bogra and other northern districts.
"We have finally learned the source of the AK22s supply and have been also able to identify the group primarily," Monirul Islam, chief of CTTC, told the Dhaka Tribune.
"A drive is underway to arrest this group's members."
The CTTC chief said these AK22 rifles, recovered at different times in drives, mainly entered Bangladesh through the Chapai Nawabganj border, located on the north-western part of Bangladesh. The consignment was received there by an arms smuggling group, which later sent it to Dhaka inside mango baskets, he said.
Missing New JMB leader Nurul Islam Marjan, who was the field-level coordinator of the July 1 cafe attack, received the consignment in Dhaka and delivered it to the militant den in Bashundhara Residential Area.
"A large amount of mangoes came to Dhaka from Chapainawabganj in baskets at the time and the militants took advantage of that to elude law enforcers," added the CTTC chief.
An arms expert in the CTTC, requesting anonymity, said the recovered AK22 rifles were not originals.
"The New JMB members use modified versions. They do this to carry the rifles around easily," the official said.
"We have also come to know that the modification of these arms was done in Munger city in Bihar state of India and then they came to Chapainwabganj border," said the official.
"A seal from a factory in Bihar was found on the three AK22 rifles recovered after the Gulshan terror attack," he said, Dhaka Tribune reported.
The Gulshan attack killed 23 people, including 17 foreigners and two police officials, on July 1.