The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested three suspected members of banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in Narayanganj during an anti-militancy drive Tuesday night.
RAB 11 Commanding Officer Lt Col Kamrul Hasan confirmed the matter to the Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday morning.
The arrestees were identified as Jannatul Nayeem Mitu, 19, from Sonargaon, Narayanganj, Mehedi Hasan, 22, from Raozan, Chittagong, and Akbar Hossain Sumon, 30, from Hatiya, Noakhali, the RAB official said.
The trio were in Narayanganj's Bandar area for an organizational meeting when they were arrested, Kamrul said.
“Mitu's father and husband reported her missing and told us about their suspicion that she might be involved in militancy. We investigated and found them in Bandar,” he added.
The RAB team also found a number of books and leaflets on Islamic radicalization in the trio's possession, the RAB official said.
Mitu was recently recruited to JMB by Mehedi, who recruited Akbar as well.
RAB said the 19-year-old met Mehedi in July 2016 on Facebook, where the latter ran an account named “Allah'r Sainik [God's Soldier].”
For nearly two years, Mehedi sought to radicalize Mitu by sharing different articles, news and videos, as well as lectures by extremist leader and chief of al-Qaeda affiliated militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team Mufti Muhammad Jasimuddin Rahmani.
He also convinced her to leave her husband, Jewel, if he did not “properly” follow Islamic rules and regulations.
At one stage, he offered her a place in JMB, and she accepted.
Her father Nurul Islam said: “On March 31, my daughter, an HSC student, said she was going to college, and took her daughter with her. She never came back.”
RAB said she went to Raozan and was given shelter in a rented house by Mehedi and Akbar.
During interrogation, Mitu confessed that she was allured by the prospect of becoming a “Shaheed” – martyr – and was trained to carry out attacks anywhere in the country against the “Taguti rule” – the anti-Sharia rule – in Bangladesh.
Even though they were suspicious of Mitu's militant ties, her arrest came a shock to her family.
“She often told me to pray five times and grow a beard. She was very active on social media, but I never suspected that she was being radicalized,” Jewel told the Dhaka Tribune.
Her recruiter, Mehedi, was recruited by a JMB member named Sami in 2015, when he was working as a sales manager at a food product company in Chittagong, he confessed to RAB.
He later recruited Akbar, who was a sales manager at another Chittagong-based food product company, in 2016.
Both Mehedi and Sumon were active on social media, looking for potential members for the JMB. They were assigned to recruit members from Dhaka, Narayanganj, and Chittagong districts, RAB said.
Besides Mitu, the duo managed to radicalize 12-15 people, mostly teenagers, they added.
RAB is preparing to begin legal proceedings against the trio, RAB 11 Commander Kamrul said.