Bangladesh Police Identify Suspect in Failed Plane Hijacking

February 26, 2019 Updated: February 26, 2019

DHAKA, Bangladesh—A man who was killed while trying to hijack a commercial flight in Bangladesh was a 24-year-old passenger from a village near the capital who had been previously arrested in a kidnapping case, officials said Feb. 25.

Mufti Mahmud Khan, director of the law and media wing of Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion security agency, said the suspect was listed in its database as Md. Polash Ahmed, and had been arrested in 2012. Khan declined to provide details about the kidnapping case.

Confusion remained over whether Ahmed was armed.

The plane operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines made an emergency landing in Chittagong on Feb. 24 after the attempted hijacking, which occurred shortly after takeoff from Dhaka. The plane was headed to Dubai via Chittagong.

Officials said Feb. 24 that Ahmed was injured in an exchange of gunfire with special forces, that he had shot at them first and was armed with a pistol.

Civil aviation authorities cast doubt on that account Feb. 25.

When asked about reports that Ahmed had a toy gun, ministry secretary Mohibul Haque said they didn’t know whether the pistol was a toy.

“We don’t know if there was any exchange of gunfire,” Haque said.

Bangladesh civil aviation minister Mahbub Ali told reporters that Ahmed had booked a seat on the flight from Dhaka to Chittagong, and that airport surveillance video showed him going through security with other passengers.

“There was no signal that he had something” when he boarded Sunday’s flight, Ali said.

Khan said when the agency’s bomb-disposal unit reached the scene, they found that Ahmed had fake “bomb-like material.”

Officials said Ahmed asked to speak to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheik Hasina before dying on his way to a hospital.

A police chief in Narayanganj outside Dhaka, Mohammed Moniruzzaman, first identified the suspect as 24-year-old Mohammed Polash Ahmed.

Moniruzzaman said Ahmed’s parents confirmed his identity, and that residents of the village where he lived said he had a “bad reputation.”

By Julhas Alam & Emily Schmall

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