Militants clash with cops on capture mission |
Natore JMB HQ raided; explosives seized; press that printed leaflets found in capital
Police yesterday seized a huge cache of explosives and bomb-making materials and books on Islamic jihad from the divisional den of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in Mirpara in Natore.
The police team also arrested four militants, including a former Islami Chhatra Shibir president, after clashes in which three law enforcers, including their team leader, were wounded.
The recovery was made just 24 hours into the seizure of huge explosives and firearms from a Jamaat-e-Islami leader's house in Rajshahi and exactly one month after the horrifying countrywide serial blasts that left three people dead and more than 100 wounded.
Meanwhile, in Dhaka, police and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) held 22 serial blast suspects in two printing presses under Sabujbagh and Kotwali police stations on Friday with leaflets similar to those used in the August 17 blasts.
Police said the arrestees from Sabujbagh admitted the JMB leaflets found at all the August 17 bomb blast spots were printed from the press.
Detectives collected over 50,000 copies of vouchers from a courier service company to get at the track of the time bombs believed to have been dispatched in cartons across the country for the August 17 bombings, reports UNB.
Police sources said the vouchers were gathered following statements of suspect Shahidullah alias Lokman. A senior police official said they are scrutinising the vouchers to determine whether the bombs were distributed by the courier service and their recipients.
Meanwhile, Rajshahi police yesterday arrested militant suspect Akhtarul Islam of Saghata in Gaibandha who is believed to have funded militants from Chhoto Bangram. Akhtarul is an assistant school administrator at Ucep (Underprivileged Children's Educational Programmes) in Rajshahi.
All the arrestees in Natore and Rajshahi confirmed the Natore den was used as the militants' administrative headquarters that controlled blasts in Rajshahi, Natore, Chapainawabganj, Naogaon, Pabna and Bogra, reports our Rajshahi staff correspondent.
Natore militants said they work at the directives of Abdus Samad, who was a bearded and used to wear turban, but is now a clean-saved man. Rajshahi militant Shahidullah Faruk said Awal is the Rajshahi divisional commander.
Police said the detainees' statements suggest Samad and Awal are the same person.
Three of the four arrested in the Natore den -- former Gogram union president of Islami Chhatra Shibir Shihab, Hafizur Rahman of Naogaon and Hasibul Islam of Natore -- admitted their involvement in the blasts at Natore station Bazar, the Judge's Court and the office of district commissioner.
HAFIZUR AND SHIHAB'S STORY
Hafizur Rahman, 19, told reporters before getting involved with the JMB, he used to be a rickshawpuller. He dropped out after passing class nine at Islamia Madrasa in Naogaon.
A passenger told him to concentrate on the Qur'an and Hadith about 25 days ago, he said. "He told me jihad and qital are farz [must] for Muslims and asked me if I want to work for Allah."
The passenger later called him to Godown Mosque in Naogaon and told him on the first floor, "You can join us if you want; we would bear all you expenses."
Hafiz continued: "They took me to Santahar Rail Station and to the Mirpara house three days before the bomb attacks.
"They told me the attacks were to inform all we are ready to work for Allah."
Shihab's elder brother Abdus Salam is a ward Jamaat president and imam of Gogram Jame Mosque, while his family members are active Jamaat activists. Shihab had been arrested for militancy several months ago.
Shihab completed his Dakhil from a Godagari madrasa and went to Chapainawabganj a couple of years ago. Samad said Shihab left the village for higher education. He used to return with three to four unknown friends, sometimes with motorcycles.
Villagers said Shihab used to say openly he was involved with the JMB, and he came home in January with injuries. He returned home just after August 17 and shaved his long beard on September 1.
The other arrestee Abdul Matin, a higher secondary student, claimed to have been innocent.
Police picked up Shariful Islam, son of the owner of the divisional den house, for interrogation.
Meantime, a magistrate's court yesterday rejected 10-day remand prayer for Shahidullah Faruk on grounds of holiday.
Sabujbagh police raided Colour CD Press at 114 Sabujbagh on Friday and arrested 14 people for their alleged involvement in the August 17 bomb blasts. Police also seized leaflets, similar to those found on August 17, from their possession.
Some of the arrestees admitted that the leaflets used on August 17 were printed in the press.
The arrestees are Abdur Razzak, Ershad Hossain, Habib Khan, Alam Sheikh, Zahir, Siddique Ali, Arshad Ali, Faruq Sheikh, Shaheb Ali, Rafiq, Babul Miah, Ilias, Sanwar and Rabiul. The owner of the press is absconding.
Our court correspondent adds: Sabujbagh police produced the arrestees before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court, Dhaka yesterday with seven-day remand prayer for Abdur Razzak and Ershad Hossain each. The court sent each of them on a two-day remand and ordered to send others to Dhaka Central jail.
Police in the forwarding report placed before the court said Razzak and Ershad are the machine operator and mechanic of the press and they supplied those leaflets for using in the August 17 serial bomb blasts across the country. They need to be quizzed to find out the whereabouts of the owner of the press.
In another incident, a joint team of Rab and police arrested eight JMB members at Daud Modern Printers at 45 Prasanna Poddar Lane in the city's Kotwali area. They also seized books on jihad from the press.
Kotwali police produced the arrestees--Mohammad Nasir, Ujjal, Chand Miah, Giaus Uddin, Sentu Miah, Zakir, Sakhawat and Saiful Islam--before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court, Dhaka yesterday with a seven-day remand prayer. The court, however, granted remand of two days.
The forwarding report placed before the court mentioned that the arrestees are active JMB members and they were directly involved in the August 17 serial bomb blasts. They need to be quizzed to find out the owner of the press and the whereabouts of other members.
Meanwhile, Shammi Akhter, wife of Samad, and domestic help Lokman, both arrested on September 8 at a South Goran JMB den, were placed on seven-day fresh remand yesterday.
Detective police produced the two before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court, Dhaka seeking a 10-day remand in a case filed under the Explosive Substances Act.
The detectives seized 62 items, including explosive substances, books, CDs, wires and bomb-making materials, from the South Goran den.
NATORE DEN RAID
Eight police from Rajshahi and 15 from Natore raided the den of Noor Manjil, some 500 yards off Natore Police Station, at around 12:15am. The mission was launched following statements of former Shibir activist Shahidullah Faruk, a JMB section commander who was nabbed in Tanore, Rajshahi on Friday.Soon after the police knocked at the door, militants started shouting 'Allahu Akbar'. The police broke into the house and faced the militants, who attacked them to make way for three or more leaders including suspected Rajshahi divisional JMB commander Abdus Samad Awal.
Injured Assistant Superintendent of Police (Natore Circle) Ruhul Amin, OC of Sadar Police Station Sayed Emdadul Haque, SI of Rajshahi DB Shahidul Islam and ansar Ananda Mallik received treatment at Natore General Hospital.
Former PTI superintendent late Khademul Islam is the owner of Noor Manjil, and a four-room ground-floor house was used as the JMB divisional den.
Five months ago Anwarul Islam and Rafiqul Islam with their family rented the house at Tk 1,700 a month, nabbed Shariful said.
The arrestees said only Abdus Samad fled, but police said they saw three fleeing hurling a small cracker that blasted with minor sound.
ASP Ruhul Amin said they could not open fire on them for being busy holding the militants left behind.
But OC Sayed Emdad said police opened fire once as Samad fled firing blank shots.
Senior officials said preparation was not enough for such a significant raid. "They (police) were not prepared, there was a gap among them," commented a source.
The seized items include gunpowder, six-volt batteries, wire, normal batteries, three knives, combat clothing, over 50 jihad related books published by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait-based organisations, 14 audio-cassettes, micro-cassette, hand gloves, receipts of monthly expenditures, and special fighting-sticks.
Books on Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, New Crusade & New Jihad, Glorious Jihad, Islamic Revolution Worldwide were authored by Allama Sayeed Yusuf Hashem Refayee, Abdullah Al Maruf, Ahmad Al Kader, Lt Col MM Koreshi, Lutful Haque and Jamaat-e-Islami founder Maolana Sayed Abdul Ala Moududi.
The books were published by Saudi Arabia-based Maktab Tawiratul Jaliat Al Zulfi, Al Bokairia, Internatio-nal Islami Relief Organisation's Bangladesh office, Dawat o Deen-e Path Nirdeshak Samabai office, Jamiyate Shubbane Ahle Hadith Bangladesh, Kuwait-based Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, Al Haramain Islamic Foundation and Dar Al Khair.
Besides, copies of militant kingpin Galib's Ahab-run monthly At Tahreek was found.
Photographs of Ahmadiyya leaders Mija Golam Ahmed Kadiani, Hekim Moulovi, Nuruddin, Mirja Bashiruddin, among others, were marked as Iblish (Satan). An inscription says they would kill Ahmadiyyas if found.
FUND SUPPLIER ARRESTED
Quoting Faruk police said Akhter, arrested in Rajshahi, was engaged in supplying funds for the militants.
Sources at Bagmara said Faruk and Abul Kashem Tufan took part in Bangla Bhai's anti-outlaw operations last year.
Faruk was conducting (confession to Allah) for Dipankar and Sheikh Farid when Bangla Bhai and his men were torturing them to death on April 26 last year.
Our Staff correspondent from Khulna adds: Detectives arrested JMB member Imtiaz Amin alias Shadhan, 30, in the city on Friday. Imtiaz, a manpower agent, disappeared soon after the serial blasts.
Meanwhile, Jama'atul Moslemin chief Dr Masud bin Ishaque may be produced before a court today for his confessional statement on the blasts.
Masud, a homeopath, was arrested last month on suspicion of his involvement in the blasts.