Abdus Samad is known as “Mamu”, or “uncle”, by everyone in Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (New JMB), the group responsible for the July 2016 terrorist attack on the Holey Artisan bakery in Gulshan.
At a young age Samad earned the Dawra-e-Hadith degree, the highest degree offered by a Qawmi Madrasa. An expert in Arabic language, Samad has the gift of persuasion and could sway people to his Jihadi cause simply by speaking to them.
Samad played an important role in New JMB, personally recruiting over 50 youths into the militant organization.
In October 2013 he introduced Bangladeshi-origin Canadian citizen Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury to Bangladeshi militant leaders. Tamim went on to become the leader of New JMB, masterminding the Gulshan attack before he was killed in a police raid in Narayanganj in late August 2016.
Samad also played a vital role in formation of Junud Al Tawhid Al Khalifa.
The details of Samad’s illicit activities fell under the spotlight after his arrest last Wednesday. The 29-year-old suspected militant divulged critical information related to militant operations in Bangladesh during his initial interrogation.
On Thursday, a court granted the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of police a five-day remand of Samad for further questioning.
“When Tamim formed Junud Al Tawhid Al Khalifa in Dhaka, he made Samad his second in command,” CTTC chief Monirul Islam said.
Samad served the New JMB in a variety of ways, most importantly as a policy maker, recruiter, fund raiser and bomb maker. He also trained new recruits in firearm use and explosives.
The terrorist leader has been keeping the organization together following the deaths and arrests of many key leaders.
A CTTC source told the Bangla Tribune that Samad was born in 1988 in his native home of Ballavpur in Dinajpur district.
“He attended a local school till the fifth grade, and then got admission in Aldipur Darulhuda Salafia Madrasa, and earned his Dawra-e-Hadith degree,” the source said.
“Samadnur Rashid, a top leader of the New-JMB, recruited Samad into the terror organization in 2010.”
Another CTTC official confirmed that Tamim Chowdhury contacted a number of militant leaders in Bangladesh before arriving in the country from Canada.
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“Tamim contacted Samad as soon as he arrived in Dhaka,” the official said. “Samad held a meeting with Tamim in Naogaon in September, 2014. In this very meeting, the concept of a new terror outfit named Junud Al Tawhid Al Khalifa was conceived.”
The meeting was attended by militants such as Shariful Islam Khalid, Abdul Awal, Delwar Mistri, and Anwar Mistri; Choto Mizan, who supplied weapons for the Gulshan attack; and Abdullah, who was later killed in an anti-terror raid in Kalyanpur.
Quoting Abdus Samad, CTTC officials said: “At that time, Tamim was trying to form a unified militant organization comprised of a faction of the original JMB, Ansar al-Islam, Hizb ut-Tahrir and Harkat ul Jihad.
“The New-JMB was formed mostly by the members of the previous iteration of the JMB, and many members followed the ideology of international terror outfit Islamic State.”
During initial interrogation, Samad confessed that Tamim Chowdhury gave him a book named “Muslim Bhumi Protirokkha”, which gave information on Jihad.
Samad later used the information found in the book to motivate and recruit people into New JMB.
During questioning, Samad confessed that he recruited at least 50 youths, including Babul Master, Milu, Rashed, Badsha, Al Amin, Abdul Halim, Mehedi, Ismail Kalu, Arif, Choto Liton and Rafikul.
Most of Samad’s recruits were from Chapainawabganj, Naogaon and Dinajpur areas, and many of these youths have since been killed in anti-terror operations across the country.
Samad also added that Tamim Chowdhury regularly visited Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj, Naogaon, Gaibandha and Dinajpur between 2014 and 2015.
He claimed that Tamim called him to Dhaka in 2015, and asked for several militant activists willing to carry out suicide missions.
However, Samad had claimed that he was in Chapainawabganj during the Gulshan attack.
CTTC chief Monirul Islam said Samad was not the kind of leader to participate in terror operations.
“We have no evidence suggesting that he participated in the Holey Artisan Bakery attack,” he said.
“We are questioning him about whether he participated in the planning of the Gulshan attack.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune