Vol. 5 Num 630 Tue. March 07, 2006  
Front Page

Rise and fall of a dreaded militant leader

Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai came to the spotlight only after his men started vigilante operations in Rajshahi-Naogaon region openly in April 2004, though he was running secret militant activities for a long time.

He was arrested in Bagerhat on August 17, 2002 in an attempt-to-murder case but was released after three months and his name was not included in the charge sheet.

Sources said police picked up him again in Joypurhat but released him in less than 24 hours.

Third son of Nazir Hossain Pramanik of Karnipara village in Gabtoli upazila, Bogra, he was actively involved in the politics of Islami Chhatra Shibir, student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, for long, reports our Bogra correspondent.

Also known as Azizur Rahman and Omar Ali alias Litu, he taught at Shibir-run Retina Coaching Centre in Bogra town for a long time. He also taught at another Shibir-run coaching centre in Dhaka.

After passing Dakhil examinations from Tarafsartaz Madrasa in Bogra in 1989, he appeared in the HSC examinations from Azizul Haq College. As he got third class in master's degree examinations from Rajshahi University, he was fired from Lathiganj School and College in Lathiganj, the militant leader told reporters earlier.

Bangla Bhai ran rice business with his elder brother Rafiqul Islam after his master's examinations for several years.

He came in contact with Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) chief Abdur Rahman due to his past involvement with Islamist organisations.

The JMB chief sent Bangla Bhai to Afghanistan where he mastered operating different kinds of firearms and making bombs.

His activities came to spotlight at home and abroad after his Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) started killing people in the northern region in the name of anti-outlaw operation from April 1, 2004.

While talking to journalists at a government office in Bagmara upazila in Rajshahi on April 13 the same year, he claimed, "My organisation has started working to cleanse the area of outlaws in association with some ruling party leaders and police officers."

Sitting next to Abdur Rahman, he said the JMJB would work in public in the southern region besides working in the north.

On May 17, the JMJB activists caught Idris Ali alias Khejur Ali, Bashar and Abdul Qaiyum Badsha at different villages of Raninagar upazila in Naogaon.

Bangla Bhai killed Badsha and hanged his body in a tree three days later in Bamangram village of Nandigram upazila, Bogra and became the talk of the country.

Police recovered the body of Ali, sliced in seven pieces, digging into soil in Bhitigram in Naogaon on May 28.

Before killing them, the JMJB men announced through loudspeakers on May 19 that some people including Ali will be killed in board daylight the next day.

As the matter came to the government's attention, the bigots could not kill them openly.

Bangla Bhai set up five camps in Rajshahi and Naogaon in a bid to 'cleanse the region of outlaws'.

Saying that policemen in plainclothes and sometimes in uniform used to guard the camps, a regional JMJB commander told reporters Bangla Bhai held a meeting with a deputy minister on April 10, 2004 in front of him.

"I don't know what was discussed at that meeting, but many in the organisation openly started anti-outlaw activities after the meeting," he added.

The JMJB men received a vehicle from a directorate under the agriculture ministry for outlaw cleansing. Bangla Bhai used the vehicle for two months.

Sources said the then superintendents of police of Rajshahi and Naogaon used to give advice to him over mobile phone.

A day after the August 17 countrywide bomb blasts, Bangla Bhai's father Nazir Hossain severed relations with his son through an affidavit. A few days later, the militant kingpin's father-in-law did the same with his daughter.

Although the JMJB men killed 22 people including a former army person in Rajshahi and Naogaon, Bangla Bhai was not accused in any of the cases filed for the murders. But arrest warrants in some cases filed against him in Bogra, Khulna and Kushtia were sent to his Karnipara house.

The militant linchpin spent two years at a mosque and madrasa at Jhautala under Khulshi Police Station in the port city before emerging as Bangla Bhai, reports our Chittagong correspondent.

Detective police sources said Ameer of Ahle Hadith Movement and former professor of Arabic department at Rajshahi University Dr Asadullah-Al Galib established Ahle Hadith Jame Mosque and Darul Hadith Salafia Madrasa at Jhautala in South Khulshi area back in the eighties with financial assistance of foreign donors.

Sources said during his two-year assignment in the port city, Bangla Bhai spread militant network in the entire greater Chittagong region, especially in the three hill districts and Cox's Bazar, and established some militant training centres.

For his contribution to expanding Ahle Hadith as well as the militant network in this region, the JMB chief took Bangla Bhai back to Bagmara in 2004 and promoted him as operations commander of his organisation to root out leftist extremists in Rajshahi region, the sources mentioned.

While in Chittagong, Bangla Bhai used to supervise militants' training at different centres and do the brainwash of fresh trainees or recruits at Darul Hadith Salafia Madrasa.

Some Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS) leaders and activists of the city often came to the madrasa to see the militants' training and other activities, sources said.

JMB chief Abdur Rahman also came to the madrasa several times to monitor the militants' activities. A large number of militants used to gather there every Friday to review their activities.

Bangla Bhai, detective police sources said, also supervised militant training centres in Sitakunda and Hathazari.

When Bangla Bhai went back to Bagmara in early 2004, militant leaders Ariful Islam alias Bomb Nasir, Abul Kalam Azad alias Ahmad Miah and Javed Iqbal alias Mohammad successively took charge of the madrasa.