Vol. 5 Num 629 Mon. March 06, 2006  
Front Page

Rahman had training on arms in Afghanistan
He taught top JMB men in bomb making

Abdur Rahman had his arms training and mastered the art of bomb-making while fighting against the former Soviet Union forces in Afghanistan and himself trained up the top-level leaders of outlawed Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

The militant kingpin yesterday also admitted before interrogators that his men smuggled the explosives they used in bomb attacks across the country from neighbouring India.

Fourth day into his arrest at East Shaplabagh in Sylhet, the infamous militant supremo was undergoing interrogation by the Task Force Intelligence (TIF) at Rab-1 office in Uttara.

Meantime, Rahman's younger brother Ataur Rahman Sunny, military commander of JMB, and son-in-law Abdul Awal were brought face to face with him before the TFI interrogators yesterday.

Although the interrogators are quizzing Rahman, Sunny and Awal in separate rooms, they brought the three in the same room when they gave contradictory replies to a question.

"Everyone is being asked the same set of questions. When the answer is contradictory or different, they are put together and being asked again to clear the enigma," said a source.

Earlier on Saturday night, law enforcers brought Sunny and Awal, both members of JMB's Majlish-e-Shura, to the capital from Barisal jail amidst tight security.

Detectives yesterday took them to a court seeking seven days' remand in a case filed in connection with a blast near Dhaka Sheraton Hotel on August 17 last year.

The Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Dhaka granted the remand after the two were hauled before it in helmets and bullet-proof vests.

They were awarded 40 years' rigorous imprisonment on February 9 in a bomb blast case filed with Jhalakathi Sadar Police Station on November 14. The suicide bombing killed two judges the same day.

Rahman told the interrogators yesterday he received training in making bombs, handling explosives and operating sophisticated firearms in Afghanistan while fighting for the Mujahideens.

According to him, he visited some other countries including Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan.

"According to Rahman, he received training in bomb-making and operating different kinds of firearms there," said a source involved in the investigation.

"I myself have given practical training to all Shura committee members on how to make bombs," the source quoted Rahman as saying.

During interrogation earlier, Sunny told investigators Rahman and Shura member Khaled Saifullah taught him how to make bombs.

Sources said Khaled, who was a leader of Harkatul Jihad al Islami before joining the JMB, learnt bomb making in Afghanistan when he visited the country during Taliban regime.

Rahman disclosed some names including Sunny and Awal, who were assigned for smuggling in the explosives from the neighbouring country.

Since the August 17 blasts, Rahman switched hideouts four times before he was captured at an east Shaplabagh house in Sylhet Thursday.

He had been staying at a house in Banasree adjacent to Rampura after the countrywide blasts. As the law enforcers sensed his position there, he shifted to Pallabi. His younger brother Sunny, who was in charge of JMB operations in Dhaka and Tangail, had found the place for him and his family.

After Rab arrested Sunny in Tejgaon, Rahman moved to a house in Tangail, which too had been arranged by Sunny.

But after Sunny's arrest, Reza was tasked with coordinating the militant outfit's work in Dhaka region and looking after the JMB supremo.

As the law enforcers began raiding different places, following up the leads provided by Sunny, Rahman found it risky to be in Tangail and moved to Sylhet on suggestion of Salahuddin, the Shura member in command of the banned organisation in Sylhet-Mymensingh region.

As of last night, Rahman has not told the interrogators how many JMB operatives are working across the country.

Though he had told The Daily Star in May 2004 that the outfit has 10,000 full-time and over one lakh part-time cadres active, Rahman did not disclose any figure in this regard before the interrogators.

"He just said the activists are operating under different area commanders and the number varies with region. Up to 1,000 activists may be working at one place while 200 or 400 in other places," said an interrogator.

The JMB boss kept silent when asked about their links with other groups at home and abroad. He also did not say anything about having funds inflow from foreign sources.

Sources said he would receive money from different organisations in the name of constructing mosques and madrasas.

Rahman had told The Daily Star in May 2004 that he set up a mosque and a madrasa in Jamalpur with financial assistance from Islamic NGOs Rabeta e Islam and another Islamic organisation Islamic 'Oytijjho Sangstha' [Kuwait-based Revival of Islamic Heritage Society].

In grilling Rahman, the interrogators are concentrating on information regarding the possible stockpile of bombs and explosives, whereabouts of other Shura members and leaders of different lower tiers.

"We're now mainly trying to extract from him information about the JMB leaders who have managed to be outside the dragnet so far and may make further attacks," said the interrogator.

Without saying anything specific about explosives, Rahman told the interrogators that Salahuddin and some others still at large might be in possession of some explosives.