Bangladesh terror outfits with Al Qaida links spread tentacles in Assam

Updated on Apr 24, 2022 05:26 PM IST

The police have arrested 11 persons allegedly affiliated to Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a Bangladesh-based terror outfit with links to Al Qaeda, from Assam’s Barpeta district in the last two months.

The police in Assam’s Barpeta district arrested 6 persons allegedly affiliated to Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) on April 15. ABT emerged in 2007 in Bangladesh as Jamaatul Muslemin. The terror group rebranded itself as ABT in 2013. (ANI)
The police in Assam’s Barpeta district arrested 6 persons allegedly affiliated to Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) on April 15. ABT emerged in 2007 in Bangladesh as Jamaatul Muslemin. The terror group rebranded itself as ABT in 2013. (ANI)

GUWAHATI: On April 15, the police in the Barpeta district in lower Assam arrested six persons allegedly affiliated to Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a Bangladesh-based terror outfit with links to Al Qaeda.

This was not the first such arrest in Barpeta. Last month, the police in the district had arrested a Bangladeshi national Saiful Islam (having aliases Mohammed Suman and Harun Rashid) and four others with links to ABT.

The ABT is an Islamic terror outfit with links to Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Though it emerged in 2007 in Bangladesh as Jamaatul Muslemin, the group rebranded itself as ABT in 2013.

During the investigation, it was found that Saiful Islam, who is a citizen of Bangladesh, had illegally entered India and was working as a teacher of Arabic language in Dhakalipara masjid (mosque) in Barpeta.

According to police, Islam had successfully indoctrinated and motivated the four others to join the module of ABT with a view to develop Barpeta district as a base for ‘jehadi’ work and unlawful activities of Al-Qaida and its related organisations.

“In two months, we have had two instances where persons (including a Bangladesh national) having links with ABT have been arrested in Barpeta. While the first case has been handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the district police are investigating the second one,” said Amitabh Singh, Barpeta superintendent of police.

The FIR in the first case registered by NIA, which HT has seen, mentions that the Bangladeshi national Saiful Islam, who hails from Narayanganj district in the neighbouring country, was “indoctrinating and motivating youth/men of Barpeta to join ‘jihadi’ outfits and work in modules ‘ansars’ (sleeper cells) for creating a base for Al Qaida and its manifestations in various forms in India”.

“It emerged that some men/youth of the district had already joined the module and are working towards advocating, abetting, inciting, assisting, harbouring, recruiting and collecting funds for organising and committing unlawful and terrorist activities in the name of jihad,” the FIR said.

The NIA case has been registered under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging or attempting to wage war against government of India), 121A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable under 121), sections 17 (raising funds for terrorist act), 18 (recruitment for commission of terrorist act), 18B (punishment for 18), 19 (punishment for harbouring), 20 (punishment for being members of terrorist organisation) and sections of Passport Act and Foreigners Act for illegal entry to India and failing to produce passport.

“Investigations into these cases have led to several important disclosures. We are following them up, but it would be too early to comment on their exact details,” Sinha said.

According to another senior police official who spoke on condition of anonymity, investigations have revealed the members of ABT sneak into India from Bangladesh, using the porous borders, with the aim of radicalising youngsters.

“After entering Assam, they get employed as teachers in madrasas and mosques by claiming they are residents of West Bengal. These people get recruited into these posts without any proper verification of their documents and antecedents,” said the official.

“Once they come in contact with young people with impressionable minds, these so-called teachers start indoctrinating them with jihadi ideology. These are like nurseries from where hardcore terrorists could emerge,” he added.

Incidentally, ABT isn’t the only Bangladesh-based terror outfit which has started operations in Assam. Other such groups have also started targeting youngsters in the state.

In July 2019, police in Barpeta arrested six persons for allegedly being members of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a Bangladeshi terror outfit banned in the neighbouring country and in India.

The case unfurled with the arrest of one of the accused, Hafizur Rahman, from his house in Barpeta and recovery of a country- made revolver, several rounds of live ammunition and some Jihadi literature.

The case registered under sections of Arms Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was later transferred to NIA in January the next year. Charge sheets filed by NIA in January and April 2020 said that the accused procured weapons and ammunition with the aim of committing terrorist acts.

Investigations by NIA had revealed that all the accused were recruited to JMB by one Sahanur Alom, a resident of Barpeta who was arrested by the agency in 2014 for his involvement in the Burdwan blast case of West Bengal in which two people were killed.

Alom has already been convicted and is serving an eight-year jail sentence on charges of “conspiracy to commit terrorist acts in India and recruiting and training other members of JMB”.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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