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Thursday, June 12, 2008
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12,000 Islamist militants active again in 12 southwestern dists

4 outfits regrouping: Those who crossed the border have returned to their areas

After a respite for months since promulgation of emergency, activists of banned Islamist militant organisations are regrouping again in 12 southwestern districts.

At least 12,000 cadres of four militant organisations have become active again in the districts of Kushtia, Meherpur, Jhenidah, Magura, Chuadanga, Jessore, Khulna, Narail, Bagerhat, Rajbari, Faridpur and Satkhira, according to sources in law enforcing agencies.

The outfits include Allahr Dal, Jamaatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB), Harktul Jihad (Huji) and Hizbut Towhid. They maintain close links with each other and run activities. Most of the cadres are Madrassa teachers, students and Imams of Mosques.

Allahar Dal and Hizbut Towhid have resumed activities mainly in Kushtia, Meherpur and Chuadanga; Huji in Jhneidah, Magura and Faridpur and JMB has become active again in Satkhira, Narail, Khulna, Jessore and Rajbari districts, they said.

It was gathered from different sources that a good number of militants who fled their areas and crossed the border after the crackdown following August 17 serial bomb blasts in 2005 have returned to their respective areas.

According to police records and newspapers reports, around 200 militants were arrested in twelve districts at different times since August 17, 2005.

Thirty-two Hizbut Towhid, a top Huji leader and nine Allahr Dal activists have so far been arrested in Kushtia.

Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and police in joint drives arrested six Allahr Dal and eight Hizbut Towhid cadres including an upazila leader in Meherpur. The law enforcers arrested 31 Huji and Allahr Dal men in Jhenidah, 11 top Huji cadres in Magura, 18 JMB cadres in Satkhira, 12 in Khulna, 12 in Narail, 23 in Jessore, 11 in Rajbari and 14 in Faridpur during the period.

Rajbari police on June 1 arrested Rafiqul Islam Sabuz, one of the accused in the August 21grenade attack on Awami League rally in Dhaka, along with four of his accomplices.

During the drive, law enforcers also recovered arms and ammunitions, bombs, bomb-making materials, books and leaflets calling for Jihad.

On June 6, Rab arrested 10 cadres of Allahr Dal when they were holding a meeting in Chuadanga.

During quizzing, the arrested militants gave vital informati9on about regrouping of militants in the areas, law enforcers said. Allahr Dal and Huji cadres were being reorganised in Chuadanga and Meherpur districts under the leadership of Ziaur Rahman Sujon and Rafiqul Islam Sabuz respectively, they said.

Sabuz was arrested at Rasulpur village in Baliakandi upazila in Rajbari on June 1.

According to Rab sources, Sabuz was involved in the August 21 grenade attack on Awami League rally in Dhaka in 2005 and was responsible for organising militants in Rajbari and Faridpur districts. He was a student of Rasulpur Jameyatul Baitul Ulum Madrassa in Rajbari but fled the area after his named appeared in the list of accused in the -grenade attack case.

Ziaur Rahman Sujon is leading Allahr Dal in Kushtia, Jhenidah, Meherpur and Chuadanga districts, according to Rab sources.

Shahin Iqbal alias Sumon, a top cadre of JMB and an accused in August 17 serial bomb blasts, was arrested by Rab on June 6 when he was holding a meeting with nine Allahr Dal men in Chuadanga.

High officials of Rab and police, when contacted, said they are alert about Islamist militants in the districts.

“We will contain the militants by any means and joint drives by Rab and police are on,” said Khulna Range DIG Asaduzzman.

He however emphasis on creating a mass awareness about rise of Islamist militants. “We can not think of another August 17 serial blast in the country”, the DIG said.

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