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Dhaka Tribune

Saudi-born Bangladeshi IS fighter in police custody

According to the case files, police was aware of his entry and was tracking his movements to arrest him

Update : 08 May 2019, 10:09 AM

A Saudi Arabia-born Bangladeshi, who returned to the country in February after fighting for the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, is now in police custody.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit arrested Motaj Abdul Majid Kafiluddin Bepari on Sunday; he is now on a four-day remand.

Confirming the matter yesterday, CTTC Deputy Commissioner Mohibul Islam Khan said interrogation is underway to know his motive.

According to the first information report (FIR) of the case recorded under Anti-Terrorism Act with Uttara (West) police station, Motaj and five or six unnamed people were accused for “planning sabotage with different militant organizations to establish Khalifah (caliphate) by displacing the government.”

Police also seized a passport, a Saudi Arabian ID card, Saudi driving licence, an iPhone, and Bangla translations of several essays on Khilafah in Bangladesh was from Motaj’s possession.

Motaj and his IS connection

Born in Saudi Arabia to a Bangladeshi father and a Pakistani mother, Motaj took a Bangladeshi passport in 2014 from the Bangladesh embassy in Saudi Arabia and then went to Turkey in 2016 using it, the FIR stated.

The report also mentioned he was influenced by the IS ideology and was trying to get in touch with them, after which he attempted to enter into Syria several times, but failed. 

Later in 2017, he tried to enter Syria via Egypt and Turkey from Saudi Arabia, but failed again.

Finally in 2018, Motaj succeeded, but it was too late, as the IS regime had been ousted from Syria by then.

After this, he fled to Turkey where his plan was to flee to any European country via Greece. But as Turkish police began a drive against terrorists, Motaj decided to return to Bangladesh and arrived in Dhaka.

According to the case files, police was aware of his entry and was tracking his movements to arrest him.

Citing findings from the primary inquiry, the FIR says Motaj believed in the ideology of banned militant outfit New JMB. 

What will be the fate of IS returnees?

No police official is ready to publicly comment on Motaj’s matter.

However, CTTC chief and Additional Commissioner Monirul Islam recently said Bangladeshis returning home after joining IS would face legal action.

He also said a section of youths have been going to join IS since late 2014. They suspect some aspiring militants were arrested and some were killed. But he acknowledged the lack of statistics regarding the matter.

 “If they want to return home now, they have no alternative but to come by air. They need passports. But people who left the country in 2014 no longer have valid passports. If anybody wants to return, they will have to apply for a travel pass,” Monirul explained.

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