Gulshan attack: Police want more tests on samples from bodies of killers

Investigators have asked for more samples to be collected from the bodies of the dead gunmen who attacked Gulshan’s Holey Artisan Bakery, an official has said. 

Soheil Mahmud, assistant professor of Forensic Medicine at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital told on Wednesday that they have been asked to supply a list of samples from dead bodies of the killers.

“Police’s counterterrorism unit has asked for samples of hair, 20 mililitres of blood among other things. So we will extract them from the dead bodies.”

The gunmen, mostly in their 20s, seized the upscale cafe on the night of Jul 1, where they murdered 20 hostages, 17 of them foreigners. Two police officers died when hit by a grenade.

The government said six attackers were killed by army commandos who stormed the cafe the next morning.

Among them five were members of the banned Jama’aatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), according to the police. They maintained that the sixth person, the restaurant’s chef, Saiful Chowkider, ‘was assisting the killers’.

The bodies of the foreign victims - seven Japanese, nine Italians and one Indian – were flown home. The bodies of three Bangladeshis were handed over to their families.

The remains of the attackers and their alleged aide were at the mortuary of the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka.       

The so-called Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the deadly attack at the heart of Dhaka’s diplomatic area, but the government has denied their presence in Bangladesh, saying homegrown militants were responsible.

The autopsy officials took samples of the attackers’ blood, teeth and flesh from their thighs to check if they were under the influence of drugs the IS uses to create ‘super soldiers’, said Assistant Professor Soheil Mahmud.

“We had collected five mililitres of their blood. But the investigators want 20 mililitres and more samples. We will collect them at a suitable time.”

IS fighters use an amphetamine-based drug in the form of a pill, Captagon, for energy and agility at the battlefront, according to investigators and military analysts.

Captagon, now illegal in many countries across the globe, was available at western countries in the 60s and was used to treat mental illnesses.

Captagon abuse is rampant not only among IS fighters but in the whole of Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, at least 50,000 users are on rehabilitation treatment for this drug every year.

War-torn Syria has emerged as a huge supplier of Captagon which is smuggled to countries in the Middle East and Europe.

Captagon users can go on without sleeping for days and without feeling hungry, Dr Robert W Keisling of MedStar Washington Hospital told Reuters. It creates a feeling of euphoria in the user who feels invincible under its influence, he said.

Production is cheap and requires only basic knowledge of chemistry and a few scales, experts have said.