Investigators suspect there are about 100 members, most of them women, guarding these safe zones. In the organisation these people are called ‘Munasir.’ Their task is to resist threats against the safe zones with suicide attack.
Some of these women are so radicalised that they are using their small children as shields. The safe zones are used to store explosives, arms and money, because law enforcement has difficulties identifying them.
A senior official of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) Unit, requesting anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday that this information was gleaned from the latest raid in the Surjobari militant den in Ashkona on Saturday.
“We need to further verify this information through investigation,” the official said.
Officials said although a number of New JMB members and supporters have been arrested or killed since the Gulshan attack but they had information about hundreds more who were taking training and operating activities in these safe homes.
“However, we have limited knowledge about those member of New JMB who have already left the homes for organisational activities, organisationally known as ‘Mujahir,’” said the official, adding that they were suspecting that their numbers were not more than 30.
The official further said the worrying issue was that these female militants were attempting suicide attacks.
Since the Gulshan attack took place, CTTC unit conducted attacks in New JMB den in Kallyanpur, Narayanganj, Azimpur and Ashkona. In these dens, a total of 15 people were killed.
A senior official requesting anonymity said of these four major dens, Kallyanpur and Narayanganj were operational houses while Azimpur and Ashkona were safe houses.
In the September 10 drive in Azimpur New JMB safe house, a female squad member attacked law enforcement with knives and chili powder and in the Ashkona drive, the female member attacked wearing a suicide vest, the official told the Dhaka Tribune.
Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told the Dhaka Tribune that most of the women were inspired to militancy by their husbands.
“We have already taken many steps to stop these practices including holding meetings of different stakeholders, school and college heads and spiritual leaders to create awareness,” he said.
“Along with this, we are also publishing leaflets and advertisement in the mass media.”
According to sources, New JMB leaders are marrying different women to bring them into militant activities. Sometimes these female squad members have to marry another New JMB leader as per the decision of the organisation after the death or arrest of their husbands.
In the latest drive, Jebunnahar Islam alias Shila, wife of Maj (retd.) Murad, who was killed in a CTTC drive, surrendered to the police. According to sources, Shila told police she was being asked to marry Mainul Islam alias Musa, who is playing a leading role to reorganise New JMB.
For this reason, Musa reportedly told his wife Trisha Moni to attempt suicide attack but Trisha for the sake of her four-month old daughter surrendered to police.
A CTTC official involved in the investigation said both Trisha and Shila were taken into seven-day remand and they were giving some clues regarding New JMB operational activities.
“We are now trying to verify their information but we are not getting any information about male members from them the women only used to meet with other women and their husbands,” said the official, requesting anonymity.