Four youths, among the seven arrested, had left their homes to join the newly formed militant group ‘Jamatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya’, Commander Khandaker Al Moin, director of Rab’s Legal and Media Wing, has said.
Some leaders and activists of banned militant groups including Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Ansar Al Islam, and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B) formed the new group, he said.
The Rab official disclosed the information at a media briefing on Thursday in Dhaka’s Karwan Bazar over the arrest of seven people, including four who went missing from their homes in Cumilla and elsewhere with suspected ties to radical groups.
The arrestees were identified as: Hossain Ahmed, 33, son of Maulana Abu Taher, Nesar Uddin alias Umayer, 34, son of Matier Rahman, Bani Amin, 27, son of Delwar Hossain, and Md Sabit, 19, son of Hasan Mir — all from Patuakhali district; Imtiaz Ahmed Rifat, 19, son of Foyez Ahmed, and Hasibul Islam, 20, son of Shahab Uddin from Cumilla; and Roman Shikdar, 24, son of Anis Shikdar of Gopalganj.
Tipped off, a team of Rab-11 conducted separate drives in Munshiganj, Narayanganj and Mymensingh districts and arrested them.
The elite force also seized some leaflets, books on radical views and a tab from the arrestees, said Commander Khandaker Al Moin said.
According to arrestee Hossain Ahmed’s statement, who used to teach at a madrasa in Patuakhali, the activities of this new militant group started in 2017 – by merging some members from various banned militant outfits, said the Rab official.
“In 2019, ‘Jamatul Ansar fil Hindal Sharqiya’ (Jamatul Ansar of Eastern Hind) was formed. Some leaders and activists of banned militant groups of Bangladesh including Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Ansar Al Islam and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B), joined in to start the activities of this new militant group,” he added.
Hossain was in charge of recruiting and supervising members for this new militant outfit.
Based on Bani Amin’s information, Rab arrested Nesar from Dhaka-Mymensingh highway area. Nesar was a scientific officer in a government institution in Bhola and got involved in militant activities before 2019.
Hossain, Rifat, Hasib, Roman, and Sabit were arrested from Siddhirganj area of Narayanganj following Nesar’s information, said the Rab Commander.
During primary interrogation, the arrestees revealed that Hasib and Rifat came to know about the organisation from Habibullah, imam of Koba Mosque in Cumilla, a year ago. Later, Habibullah inspired them to get involved in extremist activities.
Rifat was a first year honours student of Economics in Cumilla and Hasib was a higher secondary student there. They went missing on August 23.
Commander Moin said Roman got involved in extremism and remained missing for the last 40 days while Sabit disappeared from Patuakhali two months ago.
“Among the eight young men who had gone missing from Cumilla, Sartaz Islam Niloy, 22, returned to his Kalyanpur home on September 1 and later Rab took him into custody. Following interrogation, Rab came to know details on others,” he said.
They were trained in char areas in Bhola and Patuakhali districts and so far, 15-20 people have joined the new group, said Moin.
Seven students, aged 17-25, belonging to different institutions in Cumilla 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.