Dhaka gunman Nibras Islam belonged to elite class in Bangladesh, attended Malaysian university

Terrorism observer group SITE publishes photos and details of the attackers, including one who had reportedly studied in a university in Malaysia.

After the brutal attack at an upmarket Dhaka restaurant on Saturday which killed 20 people, terrorism observer group SITE published photos and details of the attackers, including one who had reportedly studied in a university in Malaysia.

Bangladesh police also released images of the gunmen who were killed during the operation. According to Bangladesh media reports, three of those gunmen have been identified as Mir Samih Mubashir, Rohan Imtiaz and Nibras Islam.

The reports showed that Nibras had enrolled at Australia-based Monash University in Malaysia where he was studying commerce after arriving from Dhaka in 2012. He was reportedly a treasurer at the International Student Services department. Later, he returned to Dhaka and continued his tertiary education at a private institution.

However, the Malaysian authorities are still investigating if Nibras had studied at the campus.

Nibras was initially identified by social media users. A fellow Bangladeshi who knew the youth on social media said: "It's definitely him". Nibras' classmates in Bangladesh told the investigators that the Facebook account with his name belongs to him. A video post on the said Facebook account shows that Indian singer and actress Shraddha Kapoor shaking hands with Nibras at an event last year.

Police said that all of them were in their late teens or early 20s and belonged to Bangladesh's elite class, several having attended one of the country's top English-medium private schools as well as universities both in the country and abroad.

"It could be that they were unhappy in their personal lives for some reason, they could easily be radicalized and brain-washed and therefore decided to join an extremist group, or pledge their allegiance to an international group like ISIS, and therefore decided to undertake this most heinous and barbaric attack," Faiz Sobhan, a counterterrorism expert from the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute told AFP.

It was reported that the attackers were believed to have gone missing months before the attack and international reports stated that Nibras was uncontactable since January.

This incident of children from the country's upper classes joining the militant Islamists in such an act of brutality highlighted the fact that the radicalisation among the largely moderate Muslim population in Bangladesh has increased in recent years.

One of the hostages later said that these gunmen intended to kill foreigners as they blamed them for hampering the progress of Islam. They shot the foreigners and then hacked them with sharp weapons.

Muhammad Zamir, a former senior foreign ministry official, said the pictures which were uploaded on Twitter indicate that they might have been encouraged by ISIS activities abroad too.

The Bangladesh government has always denied the existence of Islamic State militant group in Bangladesh and has blamed homegrown Islamists for the attacks. But the IS militants have claimed responsibility for the Dhaka attack.