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Group out to reorganise banned terror outfit in Bangladesh
Publication Date : 16-08-2013
Some remnants of Islamist militant groups have taken an initiative to reorganise the banned terror outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami (Huji) across Bangladesh in the name of conducting “the Quran learning course”.
A source, who has close link with these groups, disclosed this to The Daily Star yesterday, a day after police in a raid arrested nine suspected militants from a mosque in a remote village of Jhalakathi.
All of them are involved in reorganising the Huji.
The mosque is adjacent to a Qawmi madrasa in Kamdebpur village of Nalchity upazila, which is about 15 kilometres away from the district headquarters.
During the raid, led by Jhalakathi Superintendent of Police (SP) Mozid Ali, police recovered an inactive grenade from the possession of the arrestees.
They also found some “Jihadi publications” and a diary of Moshiur Rahman Milon, one of the nine.
Additional SP Mohidul Islam in interrogation found that Moshiur, leader of the arrested nine and once actively involved with Huji, had close tie with Huji leader Moulana Abdur Rouf, now behind bars.
Rouf along with some other Huji founders and top leaders, including Mufti Abdul Hannan, are accused in August 21 grenade attack cases.
On Aug 21, 2004, the organisation as a mercenary force carried out grenade attacks on an Awami League rally at Bangabandhu Avenue to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, then opposition leader.
The outfit, launched through a press conference in Jatiya Press Club in 1992, was banned in October 2005 for anti-state activities.
Establishing a network based on Qawmi madrasas, it carried out a number of terror attacks and also planted bombs to kill Hasina at Kotalipara, Gopalganj, in 2000 during her first term as prime minister.
Examining the diary and other recovered publications, police said the group arrested from Jhalakathi had been preaching Islamist radicalism to recruit members and expand its network.
It launched a campaign against Hasina and the ruling Awami League, saying they are anti-Islam and supporters of atheists.
“Takbiatul Iman”, one of the books recovered in the raid, mentions that Muslims are tortured, assaulted and killed when Mujib’s “digital daughter” comes to power.
Written by Maulana Shah Ismail-e-Sahi, the book reads that this government has no right to rule the country anymore, said Anwar Hossen, another Additional SP of Jhalakathi.
According to the diary, the group also wants to kill policemen as they “assaulted and killed innocent Muslims”, he said.
Meanwhile, a reliable source, who has link with the network of those arrested, said Moshiur met Huji leader Abdur Rouf in Kashimpur jail sometime in the past one year and took responsibility of reorganising Huji across the country.
“I cannot confirm you date and time, but I can assure you that Moshiur met Huji leader Rouf in jail and he has taken responsibility to organise Huji again based in mosques across the country,” the source told this correspondent.
“To organise Huji countrywide, they have decided to work in the name of conducting Vaigyanik Poddhotite Quran Shikkha Course [the Quran learning course in scientific way]. This is an initiative to reinvigorate former responsible leaders and activists of Huji in the country.”
This source confirmed that Moshiur and other arrested people gathered in Nalchity about 20 days before the month of Ramadan to revive and expand their network in this area.
Police said Moshiur’s village home is in Nalchity. Of the eight others, three came from Tekerhat of Madaripur, Gopalganj and Nilphamari while the rest from some other upazilas of Jhalakathi.
Based on the diary and other publications, information gathered during interrogation and intelligence prior to the arrest, Jhalakathi police officials believe the suspected militants were trying to reorganise and arranging a training programme in Jhalakathi.
During interrogation, Moshiur told police that they were arranging an eight-to-ten day motivation programme to encourage young men to sacrifice their lives in Jihad (struggle).
SP Mozid said through interrogation he came to know that Moshiur had conducted training programmes also in Bhola before Ramadan and in some other places of Barisal division last year. The suspected militant leader also had a plan to hold another training programme in Jhalakathi at the time of Eid-ul-Azha in October.
Police started following Moshiur at least a year ago but he was moving from one place to another frequently.
The SP said when he received information about the group’s presence in a Nalchity mosque he was working to arrest them during their activities.
He said Moshiur and his followers used to offer prayers in the mosque.
On Wednesday evening, when they were inside the mosque after Maghrib and before Esha prayers shutting doors and windows, he decided to go in.
Additional SP Mahidul said during the interrogation, the arrestees claimed they were not working for any organisation.
But Moshiur admitted he has close relation with Huji leader Abdur Rouf and he also received arms training in Chittagong Hill Tracts many years ago and met Abu Talha Md Fahim and Saidur Rahman, leaders of another banned Islamist outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
Abdur Rahman, Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai and four other top militant leaders were executed in 2007 for the killing of two judges in Jhalakathi in a suicide bombing led by JMB in November 2005.
Saidur Rahman then took charge as ameer (chief) of the banned militant group. Police arrested him in May 2010 and his son Talha alias Bashar in January 2012. Talha looked after JMB’s financial affairs.
None of the other arrestees is a regular student of the madrasa. They came to the mosque recently to learn Quran, said Ruhul Amin, a businessman who lives adjacent to the madrasa.
Md Khalilur Rahman, founder and principal of the madrasa, was not there or at his house and his cell phone was found switched off.
Police filed an arms case and a case under the Anti Terrorism Act with Nalchity Police Station in this connection, said Mahidul Islam. The arrestees were sent to jail yesterday.
Jahirul Islam Jewel, our Jhalakathi correspondent, contributed to this report.