National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials who are investigating the 2014 Burdwan blast, have learnt that two key Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) leaders accused in the case have fled to Syria and joined the Islamic State (IS) terror group. The revelation came during the interrogation of the six JMB activists who were arrested by the special task force of Kolkata Police from different parts of the state and Assam in September.
During sustained interrogation of Maulana Yusuf, Anwar Hossain Faruk, Mohammad Rubel, Abul Kalam, Zahidul Islam and Sahidul Islam, NIA officers came to know that Talha Sheikh and Nasirullah were in touch with IS cells in Bangladesh and Syria for quite a few years.
The questioning also revealed that they had been directed by the two to work for the IS when they were on the run after the Khagragarh blast. Both Talha Sheikh and Nasirullah managed to set up a network in Bengal and indoctrinated over 2,000 youths in the districts of Birbhum, Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia, apart from some districts in Assam and Jharkhand, over a five-year period.
Kolkata Police announced the arrest of the six JMB men on September 26 and said that five of them were named in the NIA’s charge sheet in the Khagragarh case.
While Maulana Yusuf was the head of a madrasa in Burdwan’s Simulia and the mastermind of the Khagragarh arms factory, Anwar Hossain Faruk was the head of the JMB in Bengal. Mohammad Rubel, Abul Kalam, Zahidul Islam and Shahidul Islam used to collect money during fund-raising drives.
The NIA got the custody of the six last week.
Incidentally, the five JMB men connected with the Khagragarh case told the interrogators that they were in touch with Talha Seikh and Nasirullah for a long time after the blast in Khagragarh, and Talha Seikh was not only a senior JMB leader but also in charge of JMB’s Birbhum wing and an expert in making improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Both Talha and Nasirullah used to visit Bangladesh frequently.
Talha Sheikh was a trainer in weapons handling and expert in making IED. He gave training to the new JMB recruits at Simulia and Mukimnagar Madrasa.
Nasirulla alias Haat Kata Nasirullah was also an expert in putting together IEDs. He lost his right palm during the making of explosives, and came to be known as Hatkata (one who has lost his hand). He, too, imparted weapons training at Simulia and Mukimnagar Madrasa.
The NIA officers said that Nasirullah was engaged in radicalisation of youths in Birbhum, Nadia, Murshidabad and Burdwan.
Both Talha and Nasirullah became close to IS because of their expertise in explosive making.