Vol. 5 Num 884 Wed. November 22, 2006  
Front Page

Mufti Hannan details his blueprints of militancy

Islamist militant leader Mufti Abdul Hannan of Harkatul Jihad (HuJi) in his confessional statement on Sunday narrated in detail the workings of his organisation and admitted to being involved in several gruesome bomb attacks and in planning of some others including the Udichi blast in Jessore and attempts on the life of Sheikh Hasina.

In the 19-page long confessional statement, a copy of which is now available to The Daily Star, Hannan, one of the most dreaded Islamist militants, also confessed to having roles in the bomb attack at Ramna Batamul, the grenade attack on the British high commissioner, and several other blast incidents.

He made the confessional statement to Metropolitan Magistrate Shafique Anwar. In the statement, he gave detailed accounts of his background, education, his involvement in Afghan war and militant activities in Bangladesh.

The most infamous incidents that he had been involved in directly include planting a 76-kg bomb at Kotalipara of Gopalganj near the meeting venue of the then prime minister Sheikh Hasina in July 2000, attacks on Sylhet City Corporation mayor in December 2005, and on a rally of Awami League (AL) leader Suranjit Sengupta in Sunamganj in July, 2001.

Besides, he also named the other leaders and activists of HuJi, who had planned and taken part in the attacks.

In the confessional statement, Hannan identified himself as a madrasa teacher and said he had begun his education at a local primary school but later he was shifted to a madrasa at his village in Madaripur. He completed Hefz-e Quran (Quran memorising) at Gahardanga Madrasa in 1979.

He also attended Sharshina Alia Madrasa for a few months before going to a Deoband madrasa in India. Later, he enrolled at Aligarh University and finished his MA in Islamic Studies in 1987.

He returned to Bangladesh the same year but went abroad for further studies the following year. In Pakistan, he got himself admitted to Jamia Yusus Bin Nuria Madrasa at New Town in Karachi to study Quran, Hadith and Fiqh.

During a Ramadan vacation while in Pakistan, Hannan went to Afghanistan to fight against the former Soviet forces. After a 15-day training, he along with a thousand other fighters joined a battle at Khont of Paktia province on the first day of Ramadan.

Hannan was injured in a battle at Jaton Kella on the 15th Ramadan, and was taken to Kuwait Al Helal Hospital in Pakistan.

During a 10-month stay at the hospital, he got acquainted with several other Bangladeshis who too had been injured in the war in Afghanistan.

Maolana Obaidullah and Abu Musa of Comilla, and Hasan and Salauddin of Chittagong were among those veterans.

On completing his studies in Karachi, he got back to Bangladesh in 1993.

In the confession, Hannan said although the Afghan War ended in 1992, many of the Bangladeshis returned home in 1989 and 1990 and formed an Islamic organisation styled Harkatul Jihad Al Islami Bangladesh. Abdur Rahman Faruqui, the founder of the outfit, had joined the Afghan war again and died there.

On return, Hannan established Kotalipara Adarsha Cadet Madrasa at Kotalipara and began working as a teacher there.

He said he had come in contact with Mufti Shafiqur Rahman, Abdul Hye, Abdur Rouf, Saidur Rahman and some other HuJi leaders at a meeting at Gahardanga madrasa in 1994. They had invited him to join HuJi.

On induction into the organisation, he was appointed the publicity secretary and soon started working at different levels in places across the country.

The main objective of the organisation was to train up young Muslims and have them ready to fight for the fellow Muslims "subjected to oppression at home and abroad".

Around 2 lakh people might have been trained in the Kaomi madrasas, schools, colleges and universities.

Hannan also founded Khurshidia Mahila Madrasa, a madrasa for the women in Jessore, in 1995.

He came back to his cadet madrasa the next year. Besides, he formed an NGO, Al Faruq Islamic Foundation, in 1996.

Since then, he would visit the HuJi offices at Khilgaon and Taltala in Dhaka and attend the organisation's meetings regularly.

Hannan in his submission said the organisation had already decided to stop the non-Islamic activities in the country and help others in their wars.

In line with the decision, HuJi had sent fighters to Myanmar to fight for the Arakanese rebel Muslim forces.

The HuJi leader also described in detail how his organisation had carried out the deadly blast at Udichi programme in Jessore.

Hannan said they had worked out the plan for the attack at their Mohammadpur office in 1999. Among others, Abdur Rouf (Madaripur), Hafez Jahangir Badar (Dohar), Yahia (Sylhet), Abu Bakar (Sylhet), and Maolana Sabbir (Bogra) were present at the meeting.

The meeting had decided to stop the "naked musical performances" of Udichi even if it would take a huge effort, and communicated the decision to the organisation's Amir Mufti Shafiqur Rahman.

They said they had learnt from the media about a month-long programme that Udichi was going to arrange in Jessore.

Informed of the decision at Mughda office, Shafiqur had directed Maolana Abu Bakr, Abu Musa and Sabbir to go on a recce and report back to him in a short time.

After the team had returned from the field inspection, he assigned Sabbir and Musa to make some bombs and use them at the venue of Udichi programme if the cultural organisation goes on to perform musical shows.

Following a call from Rouf, Hannan went to Jessore on March 5 and stayed at Khurshidia Madrasa.

Later, Musa along with Rouf and Sabbir went there and informed Hannan that the bombs had been kept at madrasa teacher Samsul Haq's house.

For planting the bombs, they brought Abdullah, aged about 17, from Chittagong, and Waliur, 20, from Jessore. The two did their parts following the orders from Rouf.

The bombs went off between 12:30am to 1:00am, killing at least 12 people and injuring more than a hundred.

Hannan said he had returned to Magura after handing over the bombs to Rouf, Waliur and Abdullah.

The AL government, after assuming power in 1996, barred Islamic scholars from issuing fatwas through a High Court order. The government also killed several protesting Muslims, injured a couple more and arrested hundreds across the country, which angered HuJi.

In a meeting at Mohammadpur, HuJi leaders Rouf, Sabbir, Yahia, Abu Bakr, Abu Musa and several others decided to carry out attacks on leaders and activist of AL, terming the party anti-Islamic and an agent of India involved in attempts to destroy Islam.

With a nod from its leader Shafiqur Rahman, HuJi decided to carry out a bomb attack to kill Sheikh Hasina at Kotalipara, where she was supposed to attend a function of a poverty eradication programme.

Yahia and Abu Musa collected the bomb making materials locally and handed those to Hannan at his soap factory in Kotalipara several days ahead of the programme. Musa, Sabbir, and a factory worker Nur Islam made the bomb in presence of Hannan on July 16 and 17.

On July 19, Nur Islam, another worker Tareque, Musa and Sabbir planted the bomb at the east side of the stage, erected for Hasina near a pond, at 12:00am, while another was planted near the helipad. They attached the detonating wire to the bomb and ran it into the pond, as Hannan himself inspected the whole work being present there.

Police later recovered the bomb near the stage, and hearing the news Hannan fled to Dhaka.

Hafez Abu Taher, in-charge of Dhaka city unit of HuJi, and Sheikh Farid proposed to carry out a bomb attack at Ramna Batamul in the city to thwart a cultural programme there.

In a HuJi meeting in Mohammadpur, Taher was given the order to carry out the bomb attack at Ramna, but they waited for Shafiqur's nod.

The HuJi leader however asked them to make a light bomb so that it only leaves a small number of casualties.

Following his instructions, Sabbir and Jahangir Badar made the bomb and gave it to Taher, Hasan and Faruq [both students of Dhaka College] and several others, who planted the bomb which injured several people, said Hannan.

Hannan also said they came to know from Islami Oikya Jote that it gives a bad name to the government if incidents like bomb blasts occur in the country and people die.

So HuJi planned to carry out random attacks across the country to put the government in trouble.

HuJi planned to carry out an attack on British High Commissioner Anwar Chowdhury at Shahjalal's shrine in Sylhet through one of its Sylhet activists, Bipul.

Hannan gave four grenades to Bipul on April 2004, who carried out the attack on the British envoy killing three and injuring around 60 to 70, said the statement.

In 2001 HuJi planned to kill Sheikh Hasina at one of her election campaign programmes in Sylhet. Finding no chance to explode the bomb at her function, some HuJi activists tried to dismantle the bomb at Doctor Refa's residence which ended up in an explosion killing Musa, an activist of the organisation, and Lokman, and injuring several others.

In 2003, Hannan managed to get 32 grenades, which he was supposed to smuggle to Kolkata for another jihadi follower Tajuddin, a relative of one of the HuJi activists, Manir of Gazipur.

With the grenades from Hannan, Bipul along with two other cadres Fahim and Hemayet carried out two attacks on the residences of Sylhet Mayor Kamran, and AL leader Jebunessa, leaving several injured.

About the funding of the organisation Hannan named several persons who used to donate money to the organisation.

He named Yunus-bin-Sharif of Chittagong, an expatriate in Saudi Arabia, Mufti Shafiqur Rahman of Bhairab, and Abdul Hye Al Harvi of Comilla, who used to collect funds from abroad and give it to HuJi.

With the fund, HuJi used to purchase arms and ammunition domestically and from abroad, and used to support Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) and RFO of Myanmar.