Vol. 5 Num 636 Mon. March 13, 2006  

Wanted JMB militants hiding in Sundarbans
Raid soon to flush out militants and dismantle their bases

Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), police and other law enforcing agencies are preparing to launch a special combing operation in some areas of the Sundarbans to bust hideouts of Islamic militants.

Wanted Islamist militants are hiding in the deep forest after arrest of JMB kingpins Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam Bangla Bhai, according to intelligence sources.

On June 17, 2001, Koira police in Khulna arrested six Islamist militants from the Sundarbans. They were Hafez Nuruzzaman alias Pintu Molla of Jessore, Abu Zafor alias Mehedi Hasan, Mohiuddin, Arif Hossain and Mostafa Kamal of Faridpur and Syed Mohammad Alam of Kushtia. They told police during interrogation that there were several secret camps in the forest where madrasa students were trained for a Taliban-style movement in the country.

Charge sheets against the six militants were submitted to court on July 1, 2001. Charges against them were framed on December 18 in 2002. But magistrate Abdur Rahman of Koira upazila court dismissed the case on the same day. Later, the case docket was allegedly stolen from the court.

The six arrested militants also told police that Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai visited the camps in Sundarbans at least thrice between 2001 and 2002 to monitor military training of 20 recruited madrasa students loyal to Islami Chatra Shibir. This information was given by the six arrestes during interrogation.

Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai were helped by a section of officials in Koira to damage merit of several other cases. These led to establishment of JMB strongholds inside the Sundarbans, the intelligence sources said.

In 2004, police arrested 11 followers of Bangla Bhai from the Sundarbans and recovered from their possession army uniforms and some books on militancy.

In May 2001, police arrested more 17 Islamist militants from near Rupsha bridge area.

Besides, police arrested JMB suicide bombers Rubel, Faruk, Hasan and Abul Bashar on December 25, 2003 from a room of an 'abandoned' hotel in Khulna city and recovered 150 booklets on Islamist militancy, 12 powerful bombs and a huge quantity of bomb making materials. The booklets recovered from there were edited by Shaekh Abdul Halim and printed from Ad-Din Publications, Dhaka.

The booklets contained guidelines on how to launch militant movement and hit targets with bombs and arms. A diary was also recovered from the spot which contained instructions for taking training in Karat and learn strategies to carry out suicide bomb attacks.

Four suicide bombers arrested from there had told police during interrogation that the abandoned hotel in Khulna city was used as the main training centre of an Islamist militant organisation.

The area where the hotel is situated is a stronghold of Islami Chhatra Shibir, student front of ruling coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami.

The intelligence sources said combing operation in the Sundrbans is deemed as urgent task now to track down the militants and extremists. They think that Bangla Bhai and Abdur Rahman had strengthened their networks in south-western districts from their bases in the Sundarbans.

The Islamist militants arrested from 2001 to 2004 and released on bail due to weak charge sheets are now being hunted by intelligence agencies, said the sources.