A Bangladeshi terrorist, who was executed in 2007, came to West Bengal in 2005 and spent three months touring several districts trying to set up a base for the banned terror outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) in the state, investigations have revealed.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) sleuths learnt how Siddique ul-Islam alias Bangla Bhai prepared the ground for the network that was exposed nine years later while investigating the blast in a house at Burdwan's Khagragarh in October 2014. Two people were killed in the blast.
Bangla Bhai entered India through Dhulian in Murshidabad and settled in the district.
"In 2005, JMB leaders sent Bangla Bhai to Murshidabad as it served a two-fold purpose of preparing the ground for setting up a base for the organisation as well as providing him shelter from the security forces of Bangladesh who were hot on his heels," an NIA officer told HT.
NIA has submitted the charge sheet in the Burdwan blast case stating JMB was expanding its network in states such as West Bengal, especially in the districts of Nadia, Birbhum, Burdwan and Murshidabad, Jharkhand's Sahebganj district and Assam and was working towards it for quite some time.
With the discovery of the role of Bangla Bhai, it has now become clear that the efforts started at least nine years earlier.
Bangla Bhai was the military commander of banned outfit Jagrato Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) an affiliate of the al Qaeda. He also had wide connections with the JMB as these two organisations were working towards the establishment of a caliphate in Bangladesh.
He also played a big role in spreading the JMB network in Bangladesh. Along with Abdur Rahman, a top JMB leader, Bhai set up camps in remote areas of the neighbouring country to provide training to use firearms and making explosives.
Bhai was involved in the simultaneous blasts in Bangladesh in 2005 aimed at eliminating judges and lawyers and replace the judicial system with Shariat law. He was eventually arrested in 2006 from his hideout in Bangladesh, tried and executed the following year.
NIA have also come to know that Bhai worked in close coordination with Hatkata Nasirullah, who initiated JMB in West Bengal, in Murshidabad.
"Murshidabad was the first district in Bengal where JMB set up its organisation. Bhai worked in close association with Hatkata Nasirullah, whom we are looking for," said an NIA sleuth.
"With his base at Domkal in Murshidabad, Bangla Bhai started contacting other leaders in Murshidabad, Nadia and Birbhum. He told them that days were not far off when the caliphate would be established in Bangladesh and their task would be to spread the idea in the bordering districts of India too," added the NIA officer.
Apart from preaching their ideology, Bangla Bhai asked local leaders to set up camps for providing training in firearms and making explosives. He also assured the local recruits that al Qaeda leaders would help them in this regard.
"During the raids we seized an exercise book from Simulia madrasah where we found that the students were asked to enumerate the similarities between JMB and al Qaeda. The authorities of the madrasah gave the student the highest marks who wrote that JMB is another name of al Qaeda," said the NIA official.