Akram Hossain Niloy, one of the top leaders of militant outfit New JMB, wanted to move to Syria via Turkey along with his parents and sister for carrying out jihadist operations. But they finally could not make it to Syria as the Turkish embassy in Dhaka denied them visas.
Later, Niloy changed his plans and tried to get a visa from India for himself only. He entered India illegally and managed an Aadhar card (Indian NID card) to apply for a passport.
But before his passport was issued, one of his associates was arrested by Indian police. Fearing arrest, Niloy returned to Bangladesh and went into hiding, but a few months later the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) Unit arrested him.
“Niloy is a notorious militant. He served as the chief of New JMB,” said CTTC Deputy Commissioner Md Mohibul Islam Khan.
“He wanted to go to Syria along with his family members. We took interrogated him under remand several times. We are assessing the information extracted from and trying to get an idea about the whole network,” the CTTC official said.
Sources at CTTC said police arrested Niloy and another top leader Hadisur Rahman Sagar during a drive at Shibganj in Bogura on March 22.
Earlier, on November 11 last year, CTTC arrested Niloy’s father Abu Turab, mother Sadia Hosna Lucky, and his sister Tazrin Khanom Shubhro in the city’s Gulshan area. They are now behind bars.
A CTTC official said the police interrogated Niloy during his remand in three phases.
How he changed
During interrogation, Niloy said he completed O’level from Scholastica and A’level from British Council in Dhaka. Later he enrolled in Lincoln University in Malaysia.
In 2012-13, Niloy met a Nigerian at Gulshan’s Azad mosque during I’tikaf (an Islamic practice that requires one to stay in a mosque for a certain period). He learnt a lot about militant activities from the Nigerian, who was later killed while carrying out militant operations in Libya, he said.
Before 2012, Niloy was not a pious boy. He also took yaba and other drugs. Suddenly he started to change. He gave up drugs and started to offer prayers five times a day during the month of Ramadan that year. He also went to the mosque to perform I’tifak. Since then he began to follow Islamic rules strictly. He also managed to bring his parents and sister to the same path gradually.
According to CTTC sources, Niloy met Nibras Islam, one of the suspects in the Holey Artisan terror attack in 2016, in Malaysia. He also met people of a network in Dhaka who were planning to carry out militant activities on behalf of jihadist group Islamic State in Syria. He was also in touch with Zonaid Khan and Junnun Shikdar who went to Syria two years ago.
Niloy joined the New JMB along with these people. He worked as a close associate with Bangladeshi origin Canadian citizen Tamim Chowdhury, the mastermind of the militant outfit.
Plans to go to Syria
Niloy was more interested in moving to Syria with his family than carrying out jihadist activities in Bangladesh.
He was denied visas by the Pakistan High Commission and Turkish and Iran embassies in Dhaka. Later in 2017, he went to India illegally through the Benapole border by paying Tk 30,000 to a middleman.
Niloy told the CTTC officials that first he stayed at a cheap hotel in Kolkata. Then he made an Aadhar card through middlemen and New JMB operatives staying in India.
He was trying to apply for passport and paid a middleman a huge amount of money. He was planning to move to Iran or Turkey from India. He also had alternative plan to enter Syria via Libya.
If any of the plans did not work he would enter Pakistan at any cost, from where he would go to Afghanistan and try to enter Syria.
In November last year an associate of Niloy was arrested in Delhi. That time he was also staying in Delhi. After a few days, he returned home and continued his organizational activities from a hideout.
A CTTC official in Dhaka said they found a lot of information by examining electronic devices seized from Niloy’s possession.
Niloy was known by the names of various fictional characters like `Jack Sparrow’, `Slade Wilson,’ and `Bruce Wayne’ on Telegram Messenger, a medium of communication among the operatives of New JMB.
His sister Shubhro served as the chief of New JMB’s sister wing.
After Shubhro was arrested in November, another woman named Humaira replaced her. Humaira, wife of an arrested militant Tanvir Yasin Karim, was recently arrested in a case over the explosion at Hotel Olio International at Panthapath in Dhaka.
A ‘highly motivated’ militant
The CTTC official said Niloy is a highly motivated militant and it is difficult to extract detailed information from him. He had contacts with many Bangladeshi youths inside the country and those who already went to Syria.
But he is not providing any information about them, said the official.
After his arrest he was produced before the court where he said he did not believe in ‘a state of non-believers’ and urged the judge to order a jail term or whatever sentence he wished.
During interrogation he urged police to kill him so that he could reach heaven quickly, the CTTC official said.
“It is quite difficult to extract information from such a ‘highly motivated’ militant. Even after that we will take him into remand again for further interrogation,” said the official.
This article was first published in banglatribune.com