A team of Indian Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested a Bangladeshi man, Abdullah al Mamon, suspected of being a member of the banned militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) from Uttar Pradesh (UP), on Sunday.
According to an ATS spokesperson, four more people have been arrested following Abdullah’s arrest. Two of them were living in a madrasa. Two were locals, while the others came from Kashmir and Bihar.
Indian investigators seized several fake passports, Aadhaar cards (national identity cards), and other official documents from Abdullah that he was also holding for other people. They also discovered official seals, duplicated signatures of important officials and copied panchayat pradhans.
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Indian police said that Abdullah and his team had succeeded in laying the groundwork for spreading a terror network in the area and were moving into the second or third phase of their operations.
Abdullah was also trying to marry a local girl, but his accent was an impediment, said police. He had been working as an Imam for over a year before he was removed because of his accent.
The militant was living in the Deoband area of Saharanpur in UP since 2011. He moved to
Muzaffarnagar district last month. Abdullah admitted to have crossed over to India through Assam. He had been active in terror sponsoring activities in Malda and other areas of West Bengal and was linked to associates in the banned Jamatul Mujahideen of Bangladesh (JMB) and the Islamic State.
He said he was working as a recruiter for the Islamic State. His work in UP was as an Imam in madrasas and mosques, but that was a cover to hide his main activity, which was to provide shelter and other help for Bangladeshi jihadis crossing over to India.
In Malda and Assam, Abdullah said he was indoctrinating younger recruits to the “Islamist cause” with training in arms and the making of explosives and smuggling of weapons. Several batches of indoctrinated young men had been trained so far.
The false documents he acquired had helped in establishing new assumed identities for the new recruits, who were sent to different parts of UP, Assam, West Bengal and Bangladesh, according to preliminary reports. They were allegedly carrying on the work of the JMB and similar organisations, apart from organising occasional acts of sabotage and inflaming communal violence.
Both Central and West Bengal police have now confirmed the involvement of certain Bangladeshi extremists in the most recent outbreak of prolonged communal violence at the Basirhat-Baduria belt of north 24 Parganas in West Bengal some days ago.
Bangladeshi government sources have kept the Indian central agencies regularly informed about the activities and movements of Islamic extremists suspected to have crossed over to India. The ABT according to them was formed following the ideals of the internationally active militant Al Qaeda organisation in Bangladesh. This group was behind the killing of secular leaders and bloggers in Bangladesh and had been involved in the major extremist attack on Holey Bakery on July 1, 2016.
Like the people who were arrested later, UP officials felt they were all part of a chain seeking to create terror modules in UP and other areas. The leader of Abdullah’s group and the chief planner, who had been identified, is still at large.