Security officials in Bangladesh’s capital have arrested six suspected members of the banned Islamist group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) as part of a crackdown on radical Islamists.
Mufti Mahmud Khan, spokesman for the elite Rapid Action Battalion, told a news conference on Wednesday the men were arrested in separate raids in Dhaka as authorities stepped up the crackdown following the July 1 attack on a café that left 20 people, including 17 foreigners, dead.
A few days after that attack, suspected JMB members targeted an Eid congregation outside Dhaka, killing three people. The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the July 1 attack but authorities rejected it, saying it the JMB was behind it.
During the overnight raids, security officials also recovered two pistols, five grenades, 12 small bombs, 13 detonators, power gel, gunpowder, four meat cleavers and five knives from the possession of the arrested men.
Mustafizur Rahman, one of the arrested men, was described to journalists as the administrator of the website “At-Tamkin” that officials said is run by the JMB. The other arrested young men are members of JMB’s “sleeper cell”, Khan said.
Rahman was involved with a group, Dawatul Islam Bangladesh, that recruits members for JMB, he said.
The other men – Jahid Anwar alias Parag, 22, Nayon Hossain, 21, Jahid Hasan alias Mayeen, 21, Ziabul Huq alias Zia, 24, and Tazul Islam alias Tazul, 29 – were produced before the media but they were not allowed to speak to reporters.
Khan said the suspects had admitted during interrogation that they were preparing for attacks in Dhaka.
The spokesman said security officials first arrested Jahid Anwar at a railway station area near Dhaka’s international airport on Tuesday night. They acted on information provided by him and arrested two more from a restaurant in Dhaka’s Gabtoli area at 2 am. Another three men were arrested from a rented apartment in Mirpur area at 5 am. They rented the apartment three days ago, Khan said.
Khan said Dawatul Islam Bangladesh was involved in at least 11 recent attacks, including the July 1 attack on Holey Artisan Bakery, and this group is another wing of the JMB.