The militant operatives are trying to collect weapons from the separatist group based in the north-east states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur in India
Members of Bangladeshi militant outfit Ansar al-Islam are now secretly training with the separatist Kuki rebels in India, Bangladeshi counterterrorism officials have learnt.
The militant operatives are also trying to collect weapons from the separatist group based in the north-east states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur in India, reported Bangla Tribune.
Officials of the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crimes (CTTC) unit of police gleaned this information from Ansar al-Islam operative Sheikh Abdullah alias Zubayer alias Zayed alias Babed alias Abu Omair, during interrogation.
The Kuki separatist group is mainly active in the north-eastern parts of India, but Kuki people are also present in the Chin state of Myanmar and the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.
Ansar al-Islam law enforcement agencies say is made up of the old members of militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team banned in 2015, that targeted secular activists, writers and bloggers, as well as LGBT activists. The group was also banned in 2017.
Zubayer was arrested by the CTTC in Chittagong on July 17 as the prime suspect in the 2016 murder of LGBT activists Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, who confessed to being involved in the double murder.
CTTC investigators say Zubayer liaised between the Kuki rebels in India and the Ansar al-Islam in Bangladesh on behalf of the militant group’s top leader, sacked armed forces Major Ziaul Haque.
Zubayer, who joined Ansar al-Islam in 2013 and was gradually promoted to run the intelligence wing of the militant group, sent its operatives to India to the Kuki rebels for training, the officials said.
Being a trusted accomplice of Zia, he was also in charge of collecting funds and the militant group’s management, the investigators said.
“Zubayer is an important member of Ansar al-Islam. He has confessed to being involved in the Xulhaz-Tonoy murder before court. We have collected some vital information about the organization from him during interrogation; we are now verifying the information,” said CTTC Deputy Commissioner Mohibul Islam Khan.
Officials working on the case said Zia was currently hiding in the greater Chittagong area, but his exact location has yet to be identified.
During the interrogation, Zubayer told the CTTC that he travelled to Dhaka once a month to collect funds – amounting from Tk2 lakh to Tk6 lakh – from designated individuals on Zia’s instruction.
A portion of that fund would be sent to Zia, and the rest would be sent to the heads of different units of Ansar al-Islam.
CTTC Additional Deputy Commissioner Md Saiful Islam said Zubayer gave names of Ansar al-Islam sympathizers.
“These sympathizers provide the funds to the militant organization. We are looking for these people to find out more details,” he told Bangla Tribune.