‘JMB leader running business in India; Bengal linkman married Dhaka woman’: STF
Dreaded Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) leader Ansar Ali Hriday, who was jailed in Bangladesh two years ago for committing robberies to raise funds for terrorist activities, was siphoning part of the money to India to run his private business, officers of the special task force (STF) of the Kolkata Police have learnt from the three alleged JMB sleeper cell members and Ali’s Indian linkman who were arrested between Sunday and Wednesday.
Ansar Ali’s present whereabouts are unknown to security agencies.
“Interrogation of the suspects has exposed a well-organised cell. The JMB refers to these cells as markaz, which, in Arabic, means centre. The investigation has revealed that Ali had sent money to India through hawala operators apparently keeping other JMB leaders in the dark. This money was invested in several businesses that have Indian partners. Ali also runs a human trafficking racket that has sent Bangladeshi men to several European countries,” an STF officer said on condition of anonymity.
The STF on Sunday arrested three JMB members, Naziur Rahman Pavel, 30, Mekail Khan, 30, and Rabiul Islam, 22. The three Bangladeshi nationals were living in a rented room at Haridevpur in the southern outskirts of Kolkata. They illegally entered India over the last few years. Naziur Rahman was the local leader of the group.
On Wednesday, an Indian national, Lalu Sen alias Rahul Sen, 38, was arrested from his residence at Barasat in North 24 Parganas district, said V Solomon Nesakumar, joint commissioner of police (STF).
“Two Laptops, an iPad, two mobile phones and some incriminating documents were seized from Sen’s possession. He is a close associate of Naziur Rehman and provided logistic and financial support to JMB activists,” added the joint commissioner.
“It is suspected that Sen prepared fake Indian documents such as voter card, PAN card, Aadhar card and other testimonials for the JMB members. A probe is on,” Nesakumar said.
“Investigation has revealed that when Ansar Ali Hriday, was in jail, Sen used to visit him. During his trips to Dhaka, Sen got involved in the human trafficking racket. During this period he had an affair with a Bangladeshi national’s wife. The man lodged a police complaint and Sen was arrested and sent to judicial custody. He said during interrogation that he later married the woman,” an STF officer said on condition of anonymity.
“Ansar Ali was helped by Sen to send money to India through hawala operators. They became associates. Ali secretly visited India once and stayed at Sen’s residence in Barasat. His present location is unknown to us,” the officer added.
The investigation has also revealed that Naziur Rahman Pavel and JMB leader Al Amin, who is now in jail in Dhaka, are married to sisters from the same family that lives in the Gopalgunj area of Bangladesh.
“To avoid detection, Pavel used the Hindu name Jayram Bepari. He and Mekail Khan alias Sheikh Sabbir befriended two Hindu women in the Haridevpur area and had plans to get married next month. This would have helped them recruit more people without arousing suspicion. We have kept the identity of these women secret to protect their families,” said a second STF officer who did not want to be named.
“The main job of this markaz was to raise funds and recruit people. Ever since the JMB got divided into two groups in Bangladesh, the faction headed by Al Amin is facing a cash crunch. To instil fear and respect among sympathisers of fundamentalist activities, Al Amin told people that he works for the Al Qaeda. Sometimes he also used the name of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami or Huji. His associate Ansar Ali took to robbery and carried out around a dozen operations,” the STF officer added.
The STF is hunting for another operative, Salim Munshi, who allegedly ferried cash and fake identity cards from one unit to another. The investigators have learnt that Munshi is not a JMB member but works for the outfit for money.
“During interrogation, Naziur Rahman said he rarely left the room rented in Haridevpur. Mikail Khan used to spread JMB’s propaganda messages on social media while Rabiul Islam, the youngest in the group, used to communicate with their leaders using a VPN (virtual private network),” said an STF officer.
The trio posed as traders and sold fruits and mosquito nets.
The arrests come months after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested several men from Bengal’s Murshidabad district for alleged links with the Al Qaeda.
In September last year, the NIA arrested 10 people from West Bengal and Kerala.