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Dhaka Tribune

Who is militant group founder Shamin Mahfuz?

Shamin was a brilliant student and secured the fifth position in SSC exam from the Rajshahi Education Board

Update : 24 Jun 2023, 11:55 PM

After the arrest of Shamin Mahfuz, founder of the much-talked-about militant group of recent times, Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya, police now hope that a “chapter” in militancy in the country will come to an end. 

At a press conference on Saturday, Md Asaduzzaman, chief of the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit (CTTC) of the police, said that the arrest also ended their long wait for Shamin. 

The militant leader and his wife Naznin Sultana were arrested from the capital's Demra area late on Friday. A pistol and a huge cache of explosives were seized from their possession. 

How did Shamin get involved in militancy?

Asaduzzaman said Shamin was a brilliant student, securing the fifth position in the Secondary School Certificate exam from the Rajshahi Education Board.

After that, while in Rangpur Cadet College, he linked up with the politics of the Chhatra Shibir. When the matter came to the notice of the college authorities, he was expelled from the college, the CTTC chief told reporters.  

Shamin then got admitted into another college, where too he excelled, achieving the seventh position in the Higher Secondary Certificate exam under the same education board. 

With such a rich academic record, he enrolled at Dhaka University. He was linked to a militant outfit through a nephew. The outlawed organization “formally” started its operations with the name “Ansar Al Islam”.      

In 2007, Shamin came in touch with the organisation's spiritual leader Jashim Uddi Rahmani and others.  

At the time, a foreign national appeared in the country's militancy, the CTTC chief said.

“But we're not clear about him and will try to know details on the person from Shamin,” Asaduzaman said. 

Shamin, the police official said, planned on camping in the hills while in Dhaka University. 

After his studies at the university, he started teaching at Bangladesh Open University. In the meantime, he began pursuing a course in PhD at Jahangirnagar University, where his research was focused on small ethnic groups living in the hills.  

“Shamin willingly picked the subject so that he could travel to hills and build a safe den there,” said the CCTC chief. 

The arrests

The militant leader was arrested by Border Guard Bangladesh in 2011. But he resumed militant activities after coming out of jail. 

In 2014, the detective branch of police arrested him. He was then sent to Kashimpur Central Jail, where he first planned to form the Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya militant group.

Forming Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya

While in the Gazipur jail, he came in touch with the top leaders of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and the Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Huji).

“The militant leaders knew that Shamin and Roxy (another militant) would be freed from jail. So, the two were tasked with a new militant platform,” Asaduzzaman said.

Roxy was released in 2017 and Shamin in 2018. After that, they started gathering new operatives for the militant group, which they did not name by then. 

However, they continued with the tasks given to them. Roxy was mainly involved in recruiting members for the organization while Shamin was focused on setting up training camps in the hills.

Roxy was appointed the “Ameer” of the platform in 2019.

“Shamin and Nathan Bom (chief of Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), a separatist group in Bandarban) were close friends at Dhaka University.  So, Shamin cashed in on the friendship and visited the hills accompanied by Nathan,” said Asaduzzaman.  

In 2019, Shamin informed Nathan about his plan to float the militant platform and proposed that the latter help him set up training camps for armed jihad in the hilly areas of Bandarban, according to the police official.

Negotiations between the two groups were held in a Cox's Bazar hotel in 2020. 

“We managed to recover two pages of the negotiations from Shamin's possession. The negotiations in detail mention how the KNF would help Shamin's Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya. From then on, the KNF started training the members of Shamin's group,” Asaduzzaman said.   

After Roxy was rearrested, Shamin appointed one Tomal as the next Ameer and formed a “shura committee” in mid-2020. 

“Shamin's militant organization is against democracy. People backing democracy are its main target,” the CTTC chief said, vowing to continue interrogating the militant leader for more information.

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