Maulana Mansur Ali alias Habibullah, an Indian national suspected of being an organiser of the banned Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), has been nabbed from Dhaka. The arrest comes within a week of another militant being arrested.
Mansur Ali was an organiser of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir-based Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF), the terrorist outfit responsible for the attack on the American Center in Kolkata Jan 22, 2002, The Daily Star said on Wednesday.
His interrogation has revealed that following the crackdown on militants by Dhaka, two other militants who were hiding in Bangladesh have returned to India, New Age newspaper said.
Ali was nabbed on Monday night from a madrassa in Dakkhin Khan locality in the national capital.
The common factor between Mansur Ali and Maulana Obaidullah, who was arrested last week, is that both are veterans of the anti-Soviet Afghan war. They organised militant modules in India and fled to Bangladesh in 1994 and 1995, respectively. They worked as teachers in various madrassas (Islamic seminaries).
Both have confessed to their militant links across South Asia from Afghanistan to Bangladesh and have said that they were in Bangladesh "to hide".
While Obaidullah has been candid in his disclosures about links with LeT and the ARCF, Mansur Ali has admitted to being in contact with the groups but claimed that he was no longer actively participating in their activities.
Officials of the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, however, say that Mansur Ali, who entered Bangladesh illegally a year before Obaidullah, "knows Bangladesh better", said the New Age report.
The report described Obaidullah as a 'disciple' of Mansoor Ali.
Bangladesh has speeded up its drive against Islamist militancy in the recent weeks after the chance arrest of Abdur Rauf Daud Merchant who fled the Indian law while on parole. He was serving a jail term after being convicted for the contract-killing of Bollywood music baron Gulshan Kumar in 1997.
Mansur Ali reportedly entered Bangladesh on a payment of Rs.100 ($2 approximately) to the border guards.
He was in contact with at least five top leaders of the banned Islamist militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh (HUJI) and Indian militants including Mufti Obaidullah Shahjahan.
He did his schooling and graduation from West Bengal before moving to Darul Uloom, a seminary at Deoband in Uttar Pradesh in India.
Dhaka sleuths say he was working in the Indian Railways when he was contacted by Islamist militants who arranged his training in Pakistan before he joined the war in Afghanistan.
Detective Branch Deputy Commissioner Monirul Islam, who arrested and interrogated him, said that Mansur Ali participated in "at least 25 battles in Afghanistan and Kashmir".