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Dhaka Tribune

Arrested Arsa leader spills the beans about fund collection from abroad

  • Arsa's finance secretary Yunus arrested by RAB
  • Accused in five cases 
  • Collection of about Tk10-15 lakh every month


Update : 26 Aug 2023, 02:44 PM

Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) have gleaned information from an arrested top leader of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) that the separatist group collects money from sources abroad. 

The arrested leader is Maulana Mohammad Yunus, 40, son of deceased Habibullah of a Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar.

Yunus, Arsa’s finance secretary, was arrested by RAB in a raid on Thursday.

During interrogation, Yunus told RAB how Arsa collects money from abroad, including from sources in countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Dubai and the US, RAB-15 chief Major Jamilul Haque said to reporters on Friday afternoon.

Major Jamil said recently murders, disappearances, kidnappings, drug trade, extortion and other crimes have been on the rise across Cox's Bazar, including in Rohingya camps. Various criminal groups have formed in the camps. Among these groups, Arsa is more organized. 

Arsa has spread widely in the camps. As a result, the atmosphere is unstable throughout the camps. Many Arsa members have been arrested by law enforcement in several operations at different times, but the group has not been uprooted. 

Major Jamilul Haque also said that based on information provided by an intelligence agency, Yunus was arrested in a raid in the open area in Palangkhali union of Ukhiya upazila. 

During the operation, one foreign revolver, six rounds of bullets and one smartphone were recovered from his possession.


Being questioned about the source of Arsa's funding, Yunus said one Abul Bashar sent Tk1 lakh from Saudi Arabia, Maulvi Ismail Tk1 lakh, Parvez Tk15,000, Zahoor Alam Tk1 lakh from the US, Harun Tk1 lakh from Malaysia and another Harun Tk65,000 from Thailand. 

Also, many unnamed Rohingyas sent money from Australia. Donations are collected from Rohingya villages in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

About Tk10-15 lakh comes to Arsa from different countries every month. 

Funds received are used to purchase weapons and provide financial support and salary to group members. 

Yunus has Tk33,000- Tk37,000 in his mobile financial service account currently. 

During interrogation, he also said that a total of Tk13,81,695 was received from different groups, individuals and organizations for Arsa in three months from last April to June.

Arms collection 

Yunus said there are 200-250 members in Arsa. 

Arsa members attacked Tarashukh police station in Myanmar in 2016 and looted a total of 70 AK-47s, said to be their main source of arms supply. 

Two members of the organization, Samiuddin (camp No 6) and Hossain (camp No 17) know details about arms and ammunition, said Yunus. 

He said in addition small arms and ammunition are supplied to Rohingya camps from different areas of Bangladesh. Arsa members bring them to the camps and hand them over to Samiuddin and Yunus for safekeeping.

Later they distribute weapons to all the members under them. Arsa members Samiuddin and Zobair make crude bombs or explosives. 

After buying arms, Arsa members transact money in person or through mobile financial services. 

The RAB officer said Ustad Khaled, Samsu and Hamid Hossain trained Arsa members in various small remote hills between the cities of Buthidaung and Maung Daw. 

Arrested Arsa leader Yunus is accused in five cases, including a murder case at Ukhiya police station. 

Apart from this, he told RAB that he was involved in several other murders.

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