Detectives in Bangladesh say they have uncovered a British-led Isil recruitment cell in the capital Dhaka
A British Muslim convert has been arrested in Bangladesh on suspicion of recruiting volunteers to fight with Islamic State jihadists in Syria.
Samiun Rahman, 24, was held in the Bangladeshi captial, Dhaka, six months after he is believed to have arrived in the country.
His arrest came two days after detectives revealed they were searching for a London-based Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) agent who had had recruited a number of young men who were arrested in recent weeks.
They first learned of a British man from East London allegedly recruiting Islamic State fighters when they arrested seven young Islamic militants, including an associate of Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, the 21-year-old student behind the failed 2012 attack on New York’s Federal Reserve Bank.
Three alleged recruits were arrested last week, including the son of a retired judge and the other the son of a senior civil servant.
They had been told they would travel to Syria via Turkey posing as followers of the Tabligh Jamaat, a moderate Islamic religious study group.
At Mr Rahman’s family home in Holborn, east London, a woman who said he was his sister said the family had “no idea what was going on”.
She said: “We don’t know what he was doing out there. We don’t know anything about it. I can’t really speak to you.”
Bangladeshi police present Samiun Rahman on Monday (Alamy)
A neighbour said Mr Rahman had converted to Islam while serving a prison sentence.
She said: “Before he went to prison, he wasn’t religious at all. He drank all the time and took drugs. He was completely antisocial and always arguing with his older brother about this and that.
“He’s lived here with his mum and sisters for years. Then he got put inside. When he came out after a few months he was wearing the full Muslim gear, the hat, the robe, the beard – everything. I couldn’t even recognise him.
“I assumed he was putting it all on so he could get out of prison early. But instead of standing around on the streets, he started going to the mosque all the time. All the drink and drugs stopped.
“But then he went away to the Middle East. I know his mum told one of the neighbours she was worried he’d gone to fight with Isil. It must be terrible for her.”
Mr Rahman is accused of recruiting would-be Isil fighters in Dhaka and in Sylhet, in the north of the country, where his family are believed to have relatives.