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Dhaka Tribune

RAB: Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya planned to form naval unit

  • Plan was to use large rivers and chars
  • Ansar al-Islam was financier
  • Law enforcement active to arrest more members
Update : 03 Aug 2023, 09:07 PM

The emerging terrorist organization Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya had planned to establish a naval unit, with the intention that if its members were scattered with military training in their background, they would take shelter in the naval unit as soon as law enforcement became vigilant.

The plan to create a naval unit was concocted in Patuakhali district, and the responsibility was assigned to Kazi Saraz Uddin, alias Siraz, a resident of Patuakhali, who had joined the Sharqiya from the Bangladesh chapter of the Pakistan-based militant group Huji.

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) revealed this information after interrogating Kazi Saraz Uddin and two other militants, including the Ameer of the outfit, Md Anisur Rahman alias Mahmud, who was arrested on July 24.

Financing and strategic planning of the naval unit

RAB disclosed that Ansar al-Islam was the financier behind this naval unit. If the militants encountered difficulties surviving on land after their training, provisions were already in place for a naval strategy.  

This strategy encompassed targeting the large rivers between Patuakhali and Bhola, with intentions to settle in the chars (river islands) that could be accessed by crossing the large rivers. 

If the presence of law enforcement was detected, the plan was to use self-financed large boats to settle in the large rivers.

RAB also revealed that although funds were committed for the naval unit, the plan was somewhat delayed.

The reason for this was that they found a suitable place in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), aided by the separatist organization Kuki Chin National Front (KNF), where elements connected with Sharqiya could receive military training.

Reasons for choosing CHT 

RAB Legal and Media Wing Director Commander Khandaker Al Moin said that the Sharqiya leaders chose the Chittagong Hill Tracts as a refuge as part of their carefully planned operations.

“The initial training for Sharqiya took place in Patuakhali, and they had premeditated plans for all aspects of the organization's activities. If law enforcement vigilance increased, they would know where and how to take refuge,” he said.

“If detected by law enforcement after receiving training on the plains, their plan was to retreat to the mountainous areas in the Chittagong Hill Tracts,” he added.

The RAB officer further said that no Sharqiya member is hiding in the hills anymore.  

“They are now scattered across the plains. Continuous intelligence vigilance is in place to identify them and bring them within the ambit of the law,” he added.

Major arrests in counter-terrorism operation

RAB has revealed that from October 2022 until July 30, 2023, 82 individuals affiliated with Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya were arrested during raids conducted across various locations in the country, including the mountainous areas of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

So far, 17 leaders of the separatist organization Kuki Chin National Front (KNF) have also been arrested for allegedly assisting the militants in training and other activities in the hills. 

However, Nathan Bom, a leader of the Bom community and the head of the KNF, remains at large.    

Key figures arrested so far include the Sharqiya’s Ameer, Md Anisur Rahman alias Mahmud, Abdullah Maymun, a Shura member and head of the dawah (invitation) branch of Jama'atul Ansar, military branch head Ranbir and deputy head Manik, finance and media branch head Rakib, principal financial coordinator Muntasir, dawah and primary financial supplier Habibullah, bomb expert Basar, and training commander of the outfit, Didar Hossain alias Champai.

Additionally, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC) has arrested nearly 10 people, including Sharqiya founder Shamin Mahfuz.

Ongoing search for Sharqiya associates 

RAB officials said that, to date, between 12 and 15 individuals connected with Sharqiya remain at large, with approximately 10 of them missing, having received training in the mountains and two training commanders.

RAB's intelligence officers are working to locate them and bring them within the scope of the law.

RAB reports that Sharqiya's two top-ranking leaders, Karshey and Simrat, are yet to be captured.

They had travelled to the mountainous region, purportedly for Hijrat, and trained these missing individuals.  

Both of these individuals are skilled in creating explosives, including IEDs, said RAB.

According to RAB, reactivating this militant organization for those still at large is quite challenging, as the group is new.

While many joined Sharqiya from groups like JMB, Huji, or Ansar al-Islam, many are now attempting to rejoin their former groups, they added.

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