After the deaths in police raids of the group’s military and operations commander Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, Maj (retd) Murad alias Zahid, and another top leader Faridul Islam alias Akash, New JMB’s operations wing leadership went to Marjan, 22, a former Islami Chhatra Shibir leader at Chittagong University.
He is believed to be the youngest commander of the new faction of banned militant outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which is affiliated with the Islamic State group.
Marjan came from a strict Muslim family of Afuria village under Hemayetpur union in Pabna. He was the second son from the 10 children of Nizamuddin and Salma Khatun.
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He passed his Dakhil exams from Darul Ulum Markaziya Madrasa in Pabna in 2010 and Alim exams from Ariful Jamiul Fazil Madrasa, Pabna in 2012.
After completing his Alim degree, Marjan enrolled in the Arabic department at Chittagong University and became involved with Chhatra Shibir, the radical student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.
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He used to live in a cottage on the university campus while waiting for a place in a student dormitory. He was attached with Suhrawardy residential hall, but never lived there.
He had a good command in Arabic language but became irregular in his second year and ultimately went missing on February 14, 2015, during his second year final exams. His studentship was cancelled for his absence.
The militant married his cousin Afrin Akhter - alias Prioti alias Fatema Ferdous - in January 2016 and they disappeared together, according to his family.
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Police released his photo on August 12 last year, more than a month after the Holey Artisan Bakery attack. Investigators had learnt about Marjan after scrutinising some 30 mobile phones recovered from the restaurant after Operation Thunderbolt ended the militant siege on July 2.
Afrin was arrested during a drive in Azimpur on September 10 last year along with other New JMB leaders, and gave birth to a girl while still in custody on December 20.
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Notorious Middle East-based group IS has claimed 26 attacks in Bangladesh between September 2015 and August 2016 in which at least 45 people were killed and several hundred sustained injuries. Police found the involvement of New JMB in these attacks.
Over three dozen leaders and members of the New JMB have been killed in raids since the Gulshan attack. A day after the Ashkona raid on December 24, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal claimed that Marjan would be arrested "anytime" as law enforcers were chasing him.
Even though Marjan is now dead, at least 14 top- and middle-tier leaders of New JMB are still at large.
The wanted militants include New JMB’s IT wing in-charge Basharuzzaman alias Abul Bashar alias Chocolate, and trainer Jahangir alias Rajib Gandhi; Sohel Mahfuz alias Hatkata Mahfuz, Ripon, Khalid and so-called 'big brother' Junayed Hasan Khan, who all fled to India; and Iqbal, Manik, Mamun, Azadul Kabiraz and Badal.