The Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crimes (CTTC) unit of police suspects that one of the four militants killed during the joint operation of security forces in Sylhet’s Shibbari could be Mainul Islam Musa, the alleged chief coordinator of New JMB.
CTTC investigators told reporters on Tuesday that a photo of one of the dead militants bore strong resemblance to Musa.
On Monday, Bangladesh Army recovered two of the four bodies from inside Atia Mahal and handed them over to the local police.
A CTTC high official, seeking anonymity, said: “One of the militants does look like Musa, but faces usually get mangled during such incidents. We are trying to match the face of the militant with that of Musa using the photo we received during the Ashkona raid. We will collect DNA samples and other evidence and send it to the forensic lab for examination.”
Police collected Musa’s picture from the tenant form that he provided to the house owner’s daughter while renting a flat in Ashkona.
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Police received Musa’s name from Afif Qadri, son of top New JMB leader Tanvir Qadri, who gave a confessional statement before a court, said CTTC chief Monirul Islam at a press conference last year.
After Ashkona raid on December 24 last year, Monirul confirmed that Major (retd) Zahidul Islam alias Zahid and some other top leaders and mid-level leaders of New JMB have been on the run since the death of their leader and Gulshan attack mastermind Tamim Chowdhury in another CTTC raid.
Once a second tier leader in New JMB, Musa then took charge of coordinating the group, Monirul said.
After the arrest of Jahangir alias Rajiv Gandhi, he became the most active leader in the field, said CTTC officials.
Musa, who was described as well-mannered by his neighbours back at his village home in Bagmara, Rajshahi, was radicalised by Faisal, his expatriate friend who lives in Bahrain.
He was an avid follower of executed JMB leader Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai and was close to Major Zahid, living in the same building with Zahid and his family, his mother Sufia Begum said.
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Before leaving home for so-called jihad, Musa destroyed everything that could link him to his home, so that law enforcers could not track him, she added.
He was very active on social media but he removed his friends from his Facebook account and eventually deactivated his account. “When his involvement in militancy came to light following the killing of Zahid, I found his phone switched off. I tried to see his Facebook page but did not find it,” said one of Musa’s former colleagues, requesting anonymity.