April 18, 2017 - 9:31pm
File Photo: Twelve members of a family that went missing in 2015 on their way back to London from Dhaka.
Police have spoken with relatives of a British-Bangladeshi family suspected to have joined the Islamic State in Syria, after the photo of one of the family members brandishing an assault rifle surfaced recently.
Twelve members of the family went missing in 2015 on their way back to London from Dhaka. The youth with the firearm was identified as Zahid Hossain Nobin by his uncle Abdul Latif Lulu Mia and his cousin Sabbir Hossain.
Sabbir said his uncle Abdul Mannan, son Nobin and 10 other members of the family have remained traceless for two years.
“We informed the British High Commission after they had gone missing. The High Commission’s investigators had visited my uncle’s house in London and our house in Fenchuganj,” he said.
On Monday, a police team visited Abdul Latif’s house and spoke with him and his family and collected their pictures, Sabbir added.
Fenchuganj police OC Abdul Salek said they had gathered all kinds of information after speaking with Latif’s family but refused to divulge it.
He said the youth in the picture was identified as Nobin by his uncle Latif. “Latif told us that Nobin had gone to Syria through his sister Razia Begum about two years ago.”
The OC said they believed the picture in question was taken two years ago. But it is unclear where it was taken.
“Nobin had given it to one of his cousins in London. We suspect the picture was sent to Bangladesh by Nobin’s cousin,” the police officer added.
Sylhet Additional Superintendent of Police Sugyan Chakma said they collected information about the missing people.
“Other members of the family [living in Fenchuganj] are currently under surveillance,” he said. “We are taking the matter seriously.”
Beside Nobin, other members of the missing family are – Abdul Mannan, and his wife Minera Khatun, their daughter Rajia Khanom, and sons Mohammed Zayed Hussain, Toufique Hussain, Abul Kashem, and his wife Sheida Khanam; Mohammed Saleh Hussain and his wife Roshanara Begum, along with three children, aged between three and 14.
Those missing include one of Latif’s sons.
Mannan lived in Luton with his family. He had gone to the UK in the ’60s. He married Minara after the death of his first wife. All of their children were born in the UK. Mannan’s children from his first marriage are currently in London.
Latif said his brother came to Fenchuganj in April 2015 with 11 members of his family. They left for the UK about a month later.
“We called our relatives in London to see if they had reached there. We were told that Mannan’s family did not contact them after reaching Turkey,” he said.
Latif said they had learned from their relatives in London that 12 members of his brother’s family had gone to Syria at the instigation of Nobin’s younger sister Razia.
Before going missing, Razia had tried to travel to Turkey from London with two of her friends but the police did not allow them.
In July last year, the IS sent a statement to the BBC claiming that Mannan’s family had joined the terrorist group in Syria.
Latif said his brother Mannan had called him last year before Ramadan. “I asked him if they were okay and he had replied in the positive. That was the last time we spoke,” he said.
“We do not know if they are alive or dead.”