At least four mid-level leaders of the banned New Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh militant faction, the group behind the July 1 Dhaka terror attack, have sneaked into India, Bangladesh police said.
The police, after raiding different places to arrest leaders and supporters of New JMB group, said that at least four out of 12 mid-level JMB leaders have sneaked into India while others remain out of their radar. The Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh follows the ideology of Islamic State.
“Four of them left the country after the Gulshan attack and have now been staying in India,” a high official of the police’s Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit, requesting anonymity, confirmed to the Dhaka Tribune.
Police also said the New JMB leaders have been recruiting fresh members amid a police crackdown that began after the July 1 Gulshan cafe attack.
Law enforcers have killed over three dozens of New JMB members including its military and operations chief Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, mastermind of the Dhaka cafe attack, and his close associates since the Holey Artisan Bakery attack that claimed the lives of at least 24 persons, mostly foreigners.
Identities of the 12 mid-level leaders, including a woman, were found after interrogating several arrested members of the group and examining the laptop of Tamim Chowdhury recovered from his den in Narayanganj, police said.
The four who have fled to India are identified as Sohel Mahfuz alias Hatkata Mahfuz, Ripon, Khalid and so-called “big brother” Junayed Hasan Khan.
The others who are believed to be in Bangladesh include Iqbal, Manik, Mamun, Azadul Kabiraz, Badal and female wing leader Jebunnahar Shila.
Apart from these 12 leaders, the investigators are looking for three top-tier leaders - Gulshan attack coordinator Nurul Islam Marjan, IT wing in-charge Basharuzzaman alias Abul Bashar alias Chocolate and trainer Jahangir alias Rajib Gandhi.
However, the investigators have not been able to trace the chief of the New JMB, who is identified as Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif by the IS.
The matter of fresh recruitment came to light after the latest raid on a New JMB den at Patartek of Gazipur last week. Some of the seven militants killed during the raid were recruited after the Gulshan attack, police added.
Monirul Islam, chief of the CTTC unit, said that they had already taken different initiatives to stop New JMB’s recruitment, “but it cannot be done by the police alone. The relatives also need to be aware of the changing behaviour of their near ones,” the Dhaka Tribune quoted him as saying.
Another high official of the CTTC unit said that they had not been able to arrest the top leaders of New JMB since they do not use any technological devices. “So we have to work manually - interrogating arrestees and observing a certain area for a long.”
Sanowar Hossain, additional deputy commissioner of the CTTC unit, suspects that after the death of Tamim in Narayanganj and Faridul Islam alias Akash in Patartek raids, the New JMB’s operations wing leadership would now go to Marjan, a former student of Chittagong University linked to Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh.