Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) expressed its interest to interrogate the five alleged New JMB militants who were reportedly arrested by the elite crime busting unit on Wednesday night from different parts of the capital.
A 40-year-old Islamic spiritual leader and a 27-year-old explosives expert were among the group detained in a series of raids in the capital late Wednesday and early Thursday.
Abul Kalam Azad, director of intelligence wing of RAB on Friday told the Dhaka Tribune that they would seek permission from the Home Ministry to investigate the case, confirming the common knowledge that the RAB and police are evidently not on the best of terms.
Azad said: “Usually, after a case is field, the police take charge of the investigation. But as we are working on controlling militancy since the agency’s inception, we want to investigate the whole issue.”
Earlier on Wednesday night, a team of the elite force detained Maulana Abdul Hakim Faridi alias Sufian, 40, Rajibul Islam alias Ahmed, 29, Gazi Kamrus Salam Sohan alias Abu Abdullah, 27, Md Sohel Rana alias Khadem alias Moazzin alias Shahidullah, 23, and Sheikh Md Abu Saleh alias Liton alias Huraira, 42, from Airport Railway Station and Adabar areas in the capital.
"They belonged to Sarwar-Tamim group of the Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)," RAB said in a statement, referring to the extremist group the government has blamed for the July attack.
“As the arrestees played a very important role for New JMB, we need to know about their other activities and accomplices,” Azad added.
It is mentionable that there have been a few instances in the recent past that indicate a rift within these two forces, and expression of RAB’s interest to interfere into police responsibility clearly shows that the rift is widening.
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Firearms, bullets, magazines and bomb-making equipment are displayed in front of the media, which RAB claims were recovered from the five militants' possession on Thursday November 17, 2016 Dhaka Tribune
A top government official requesting anonymity due to sensitivity of the issue said the two law enforcement agencies were not cooperating or sharing their resources with each other even when it concerned an attack that killed 20 people. For instance, Even though RAB labels Sarowar alias Abdur Rahman as the chief of New JMB, which is linked to Islamic State, police’s counter-terrorism and transnational crime unit identifies him as merely a third grade operative of the outfit,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Family of Rajibul Islam and Sohel Rana claimed that they were picked up last January and June consecutively by law enforcers in plainclothes, categorically rejecting RAB’s claim that they had been arrested on Wednesday night.
More than 30 of New JMB’s alleged leaders and members have been killed in raids and gunfights since the July 1 Gulshan cafe attack.
The Islamic State group and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent claimed responsibility for the siege at Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in Dhaka's posh Gulshan neighbourhood.
But the Bangladesh government has blamed the homegrown JMB and another group called Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).
The leader of the JMB, Sarwar Jahan, and the mastermind of the cafe siege, Tamim Chowdhury, a Canadian citizen of Bangladeshi origin, were both killed in raids outside the capital by security forces in recent months.
The July carnage triggered a security force crackdown on Islamist extremists, with police shooting dead nearly 40 suspected militants and arresting scores more since.