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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Where are the two militants snatched from court?

  • Law enforcement agencies uncertain about their whereabouts 
  • Investigators employing various tactics to nab these militants
Update : 20 Feb 2024, 09:29 AM

Despite a year and a half having elapsed, the whereabouts of the two militants snatched from the Dhaka court area remain unknown.

Law enforcement agencies are uncertain whether they are still in the country or have fled abroad. 

Nevertheless, investigators are employing various tactics to nab these militants, who were sentenced to death for their involvement in the murder case of publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan. Recent efforts, including raids conducted outside Dhaka, reflect the ongoing commitment to apprehend them.

Moinul Hasan Shamim, also known as Samir or Imran, and Abu Siddiq Sohel, also known as Shakib, Sajid, or Shahab, leaders of the banned militant outfit Ansar al-Islam, were snatched from the crowded court area on November 20, 2022. 

The incident prompted the filing of a case under the Anti-Terrorism Act at the Kotwali police station in Old Dhaka. 

Subsequently, 21 individuals, including associates of Shamim and Sohel, were arrested in connection with the case. 

Arafat Rahman and Abdus Sabur, apprehended while attempting to flee with Sohel's wife Shikha, have been remanded and interrogated. Confessional statements from militants Shikha and Bakhtiar have shed light on their involvement in the robbery and escape plan.

Inspector Azizur Rahman of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) at DMP emphasized the importance of apprehending the two abducted militants.

He said: "We are trying with utmost importance to arrest the two abducted militants. In the last two weeks, I have conducted raids in several places outside Dhaka. After identifying their location through intelligence surveillance, regular operations are being conducted. But they are frequently shifting their places.”

The CTTC official said: "As per our intelligence - these two militants are still staying in the country.” 

He also expressed the hope that it would be possible to bring them under the law very soon.

Difficult to arrest

A law enforcement officer who has been working for a long time in countering militancy said that identifying the location of the members of the banned militant organization Ansar al-Islam and arresting them is very difficult and takes a long time. 

He said that the Ansar al-Islam members are different from other militant outfits. The training and dedication of the members of Ansar al-Islam is high. They are also more tech savvy. They run the organization in a cut-out manner. As a result, it is not possible to arrest them easily.

A CTTC official said Major Syed Ziaul Haque, who was expelled from the army, had trained and managed the members of the Ansar al-Islam.

They are much more cautious and take preventive measures to avoid arrests by law enforcement agencies. Because of this, even Major Syed Ziaul Haque was not arrested despite coming so close to being nabbed.

CTTC Additional Deputy Commissioner Imran Hossain said: "We are trying to arrest the two kidnapped militants. Regular operations are going on. But it takes some time to catch the members of Ansar Al Islam. It takes a long time. We hope to bring them under the law soon.”

Special instructions for transporting militants

Recently, a special directive has been issued by the police headquarters concerning the transportation of arrested militants. 

This directive, formulated in response to recommendations by an investigation committee established after the snatching of two militants, emphasizes strict adherence to police headquarters' guidelines. 

Specifically, it mandates that officers responsible for transporting detainees receive comprehensive briefings from senior personnel. 

Furthermore, the officers from the unit tasked with escorting detainees to court are instructed to brief the receiving unit upon arrival. Additionally, they will collaborate with the receiving unit to ensure inmate security.

To enhance coordination among various units involved in counter-terrorism efforts, the directive proposes the establishment of a dedicated cell at police headquarters. 

This cell will oversee intelligence activities, operations, arrests, investigations, prosecution assistance, and detainee transportation related to proscribed terrorist organizations.

Moreover, the directive, signed by Additional DIG Nassian Wazed of Police Headquarters, suggests the installation of closed-circuit cameras in prison vans to monitor detainee movement.

It advocates the separate transportation of members of banned militant organizations and proposes assigning an assistant superintendent of police to oversee jail operations, replacing the current sub-inspector at the CMM court jail of DMP.

Furthermore, it calls for the formulation of a comprehensive security plan clarifying the duties of court personnel nationwide, including those in Dhaka.

It recommends increasing the number of CCTV cameras in key areas of court premises for enhanced surveillance. Additionally, it suggests considering online court appearances for at-risk individuals or those sentenced to death, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. Finally, it proposes housing risky convicts in Dhaka Central Jail rather than at Kashimpur Jail.

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