Vol. 5 Num 263 Tue. February 22, 2005  
Front Page

12 militants held with important materials
3 arrested at JU Ekushey programme with timer, jihad tape; Dhamrai militants carry bomb-making formula

Twelve suspected extremists were arrested from Dhamrai, Jahangirnagar University (JU) and Joypurhat Sunday night.

The six arrested from Dhamrai were found with bomb-making formulas, masks, wigs and important documents belonging to an extremist organisation, while JU authorities also found a timer and an audio tape containing a speech protesting attempts to arrest Osama bin Laden, Mufti Fazlul Haq Amini and Shaikhul Hadith Azizul Haque.

Intelligence agencies, meantime, have mounted surveillance on a number of mosques in the north-western regions of the country in the wake of a recent wave of bomb attacks on various NGOs, including Brac and Grameen Bank.

A patrol team of Dhamrai police challenged eight youths as they were walking by Joypura Jora bridge on the Dhaka-Aricha highway at 1:00am yesterday.

Two of the youths ran away when they saw the police, and remaining six were arrested.

It has been learned that four of the six Abdul Wahab, 26, Yakub Ali, 21, Faruq Hossain, 34, Rafiqul Islam, 18, Nurul Islam, 20, and Anwar Hossain, 23, -- are students of the area's Sharifabad Madrasa.

"Each of them was carrying a bag," Tareq Kamal, officer-in-charge of the Dhamrai Police Station, told reporters.

Searching their bags, police found pieces of glass, five diaries and a notebook, dresses for girls, masks, fake beards and moustaches, wigs and bomb-making formulas complete with drawings.

Police said all of the youths were wearing lungis and pajamas,, but that each carried with them two extra dresses. Police also found three pairs of shoes, muri (fried rice), cakes, soft drinks and bottles of drinking water.

The youths claimed they were returning from a feast at one Delwar Hossain's house, but police could not find anyone by that name in the area, raising doubts about the youth's motives for roaming the highway at night.

They identified the two who fled as Nantu and Salam.

Local sources said Wahab, a resident of Kayetpara in Dhamrai, is the leader of the team. His brother Jahangir Alam, a grocer at Dhamrai Bazar, expressed ignorance about his brother's occupation when speaking with reporters.

A police source said the arrested disclosed the names of eight members of 'their people'.

Local police officials suspected, based on the recovered items, that the youths were preparing to undertake an operation.

Several police sources said the extremists have a safe den somewhere in the area, where they are training young members.

Reporters have not been permitted to speak with the arrestees.

At approximately 8:00pm on Sunday, JU Assistant Proctor Qamruzzaman Monir challenged three youths wearing panjabi and pajamas during a function on the occasion of International Mother Language Day at the university Shaheed Minar.

The youths, who claimed to be students of Dhaka College, were recording the cultural function on an audio cassette.

But the JU authorities later learned that two of the young men, Aminul Islam and Salabuddin Rana, are students of Pallabi Aftab Uddin Madarsa, while the other, Taha Ibne Hasan, is a student of Bhawal Badre Alam College in Gazipur.

"As we asked about their motive, they gave us contradictory statements," JU Proctor Muhammad Ali Akond Mamun told The Daily Star last night.

The JU authorities found a cassette containing a speech of an unknown religious cleric who defended Osama bin Laden, Mufty Amini and Shaikhul Hadith, saying anti-Islamic forces failed to arrest them despite repeated attempts. The speech had been recorded a few days earlier.

Finding a timer with them, the JU authorities handed them over to the Savar police.

They arrested mentioned names of two JU students Sajan, a resident student of AFM Kamaluddin Hall, and Panna of Meer Mosharraf Hossain Hall.

The young men told police during an interrogation at the Savar Police Station yesterday that they went to the university to enjoy the programme. They failed, however, to give a satisfactory answer for carrying a timer.

Police arrested three extremists of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) from Kalai and Sadar upzila of Joypurhat.

They are Golam Mostafa and Delwar Hossain of Baniapara of the Sadar upzila and Sobhan, alias Salauddin, of Belghar village under Kalai.

Speaking to The Daily Star, Joupurhat Police Station OC Iqbal Shafi confirmed the arrestees to be members of militant groups.

"Two of them were arrested earlier in connection with an attack on police at Maheshpur village under Khetlal upzila in 2003, but were later released on bail a couple of months ago," he said, adding that Mostafa is also an accused in the bomb attack in Dinajpur.

A number of books related to revolution were seized from Delwar.

Kalai police suspect Sobhan was involved in the bomb attack at the Brac office at Kalai Sadar last week.

Police high ups recently deployed members of intelligence agencies to the listed mosques in the Northern region, hoping to ascertain which clerics were known to deliver ultra-religious statements and preach Zihad, a top official in the police headquarters said seeking anonymity. Sources said intelligence members have also been deployed at various mosques in the Sylhet and Khulna regions.

"The intelligence mounted watch in the mosques where disciples of the operation commander of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and Dr Asadullah Galib of Rajshahi University are carrying out activities and discharging duties as Imam," said a top police official seeking anonymity. Intelligence members have also been ordered to arrest the zealots and thoroughly interrogate them.

Local intelligence agencies, meanwhile, have been kept in the dark for unknown reasons and were not tasked with making arrests, the official said. Possibly the government has taken such move because JMJB operation commander Bangla Bhai is eluding arrest despite the Prime Minister's ordered to arrest him, he noted.

The order was given after a special meeting on security held at the Ministry of Home on Thursday, during which the recent bomb attacks on NGOs was given priority, a ministry source said.

Chaired by State Minister for Home Luthfozzaman Babar, the meeting was attended by Inspector General of Police and chiefs of various intelligence agencies.

Police arrested three activists of Jama'atul Mujahidin from the Water Development Board mosque in Thakurgaon on Thursday night. The arrestees are Amanat Ullah, Mamun ur Rashid and Mahbub Alam. Following the statement police raided the house of one Asiruddin, 50, of Laxmipur village in Sadar upazila of Thakurgaon and seized bomb making materials, acid, splinters, electrical wire, batteries, a dummy rifle made of bamboo and rod, some books and leaflets as well as a motor cycle.

Police said the arrestees admitted to police that they were carrying out anti-NGO propaganda at the direction of Bangla Bhai, operation commander of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), and Dr Asadullah Galib of Rajshahi University.

Earlier, in the first week of February, police arrested 12 members of Jama'atul Mujahidin activists from a mosque in Natore.

Superintendent of Police (SP) of Thakurgaon Khandaker Golam Faruq said there are thousands of mosques, but such activities. "It is not possible to watch every mosque by limited forces," he said.