In order to stay under the law enforcement agencies' radar, militants have changed tactics and are now assuming code numbers, instead of aliases, to identify themselves.
Police learnt this information after interrogating two militants who were arrested in Madarbari area, Chittagong on January 1, sources told the Dhaka Tribune.
The militants - Ashfaqur Rahman Rasel, alias Selebi Titus alias Abu Mahir al Bangali, 22, and Raqibul Hasan Jony, alias Salah Uddin Ayubi alias Hasan alias Abu Taishir al Bangali, 19 – are members of militant outfit New JMB.
Police also recovered two sketches of maps, two suicidal vests and 10 grenades from the militants' den. The duo were planning to launch an attack on Sadarghat police station in Chittagong.
Ashfaq, who is the deputy commander of New JMB’s Chittagong unit, spilled this information during interrogation, said Detective Branch Additional Deputy Commissioner AAM Humayun Kabir, who is also the Chittagong chief of the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crimes (CTTC) unit of the police.
Assuming fake names has been a common tactic used by militants to dodge law enforcement agencies. A member of a militant outfit would assume three to four names on an average.
However, since aliases have proven to be ineffective in hiding their identities, militants are now using code numbers, Humayun told the Dhaka Tribune.
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One militant does not know another’s code number; only the ameer or the chief of the outfit are aware of the code number of each operative.
In case of using mobile phones or Facebook, the chief asks an operative for his or her code number. If the operative fails to tell the code number instantly after making a phone call, the ameer assumes that something must have gone wrong with the operative; in the worst case scenario, he or she is in law enforcement custody.
The same rule applies during communication through mobile phone applications, the CTTC official said.
After examining the two mobile phones recovered from the militants, police learnt that the militants communicated among themselves through Telegram, the mobile phone app that allows communication via encrypted messages.
“Militants give their word that they will not disclose their code numbers to each other. Even after staying together for two months, the two militants we arrested on January 1 did not know each other’s code number,” Humayun said.
Police also learnt that Ashfaq's code number was “630”, while Raqib identified himself with “750”. The militants told police that their ameer, who is referred to as “Don”, uses the code “950”.
“During interrogation, the militants said the code numbers are used so no member of law enforcement agencies can pose as the operatives and communicate with the ameer for information,” Humayun said.