7 arrested over links with new militant group

Several leaders and workers of JMB, Ansar-al-Islam are also part of the new organization, RAB official says

Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has arrested seven members of a new militant organization “Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya”, including three trainers.

The arrestees include four men who went missing from their homes in Comilla and elsewhere of the country, Commander Khandaker Al Moin, RAB Legal and Media Wing director, said at a press briefing in Dhaka on Thursday. 

The arrestees were identified as Hussain Ahmed, 33, supervisor and trainer of the new militant organization, Md Neshar Uddin alias Umayer, 34, Bani Amin, 27, missing youth from Narayanganj Imtiaz Ahmed Rifat, 19, Md Hasibul Islam, 20, Roman Shikder, 24, Md Sabit, 19.

Three types of pamphlets of the new militant organization, documents on making explosives, operating procedures for the organization, four copies of the extremist book "Nedaye Tawhid", and some extremist videos were seized from their possession, the RAB official added.

Commander Khandaker Al Moin said the missing men were sent to various areas including Patuakhali and Bhola for training in armed attacks from Comilla under the supervision of one Sohail, he added.

They were kept in different safe houses and were trained in bomb-making, physical exercise, and militant activities in different char areas of Patuakhali and Bhola by a person named Siraj Ravi, he added.

During primary interrogation, arrestees Hasib and Rifat said they got to know about the organization through an Imam of a mosque in Comilla named Habibullah. 

Later, Habibullah took them to a person named Fahim alias Hanjala. Fahim later took the men to various mosques in Comilla and showed them footage of Muslims being tortured in neighbouring countries. Which later made them interested in being separated from their families and prepare for attacks, Moin told the media. 

Meanwhile, Hossain Ahmed was in charge of recruiting members for the organization while pretending to teach at a Patuakhali madrasa.

He said he was lured into extremism by a man named Siraj while studying at Hathazari Madrasa in Chittagong in 2014-2015. According to him, the activities of this new militant organization started in 2017.

Later in 2019, the organization was renamed to "Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya" after bringing together leaders and workers of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Ansar al-Islam, and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh (Huji-B).

The RAB official added that arrested Neshar Uddin alias Umayer was a science officer at a government institution in Bhola. He was in charge of training and supervising the members for attacks. 

Since 2020, Bani Amin was providing shelter to the members of the new militant organization under the guise of computer sales and service.

Seven students, aged 17-25, belonging to different institutions in Comilla have been missing since August 23. They all knew each other and left home without their mobile phones. 

A general diary was lodged with Kotwali Model Police in this regard.

After that, reports came to light of seven more youths missing from Patuakhali, Dhaka, Narayanganj, and Gopalganj for two to three months under similar circumstances.

Besides, four youths from Sylhet have been missing since 15 November last year.