DHAKA • Bangladesh police yesterday said they have arrested an extremist accused of being one of the "masterminds" of last year's deadly siege at a Dhaka cafe where 22 hostages were killed.
A police spokesman said Jahangir Alam was detained last Friday night by counter-terrorism forces in Elenga, a town some 120km north of the capital.
Mr Yusuf Ali, an additional deputy commissioner of the Dhaka police force, said: "He is one of the main masterminds of the Holey Artisan Bakery (cafe) attack.
"He was a member of a new faction of Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh and was directly involved in the murder of at least 22 religious minorities, including Hindu priests and a Christian and foreigners (at the cafe)."
Japanese and Italian diners were among the 18 foreigners shot and hacked to death in the attack on July 1 last year.
The siege lasted for 10 hours until army commandos, using armoured vehicles, stormed the compound.
Mr Sanwar Hossain, an additional deputy commissioner of the police's counter-terrorism and transnational crime unit, said Alam was a close associate of Tamim Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi Canadian who was named as the primary architect of the cafe siege.
"(Alam) was notorious. He led around two dozen attacks on religious minorities outside the capital," he said.
Alam, 32, was present with Chowdhury at a Dhaka hideout where they planned and organised the cafe attack, Mr Hossain added.
The arrest comes a week after police killed two extremists, including another plotter of the cafe siege, in a shoot-out in Dhaka. Chowdhury was killed during a raid outside the capital in August last year.