Militants trying to regroup in Bangladesh

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Radical Islamist groups are trying to forge a single platform with the aim to create anarchy ahead of the national elections, intelligence agencies alerted the home ministry recently. ​

So-called Bangladeshi jihadists in and around Syria are tipped to be piecing fragmented extremist groups together.

Law enforcement agencies, which claimed to have dismantled the terror network through at least 60 anti-militancy operations since the 2016 Holey Artisan terror attack in the capital, did not leave anything to chances.

On receipt of a confidential report from the home ministry, the police headquarters has already stepped up monitoring and taken preventive steps to thwart the “regrouping” attempt by radical groups. 

 “There is threat, but we are aware of it and working on it in full swing. So, their activities have been minimised,” Additional Deputy Inspector General (Intelligence & Special Affairs) Md Moniruzzaman told The Daily Star.

The targets of the terrorists are as usual.

 “The militants are planning to kill popular, progressive and secular Awami League leaders, progressive writers, thinkers and bloggers, foreigners working in development projects and minorities,” states the home ministry letter, a copy of which this newspaper has obtained.

Besides, the members of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies working to combat militancy could also be their target, it added.

The letter issued in the first week of May this year also mentioned that so-called jihadists from Bangladesh, now busy in fighting in Syria and its adjacent territories, have close links to these activities and plots.

A number of police officials, however, claimed that they have already arrested some of the militants, including “Neo-JMB” leader Akram Hossain Khan Niloy, and several others who had communications with the Jihadists abroad through apps.

Niloy, also the mastermind of an attempted attack on a National Mourning Day programme at Dhanmondi 32 on August 15 last year, was arrested on March 22 this year.

Police officials claimed that they have weakened the militant outfits with the arrests in March.

About the formation of a single platform, a counterterrorism official said they got intelligence that the militant groups are trying to regroup and form a single platform but they are yet to get any concrete evidence in this regard.

Amid police claims that the strength of militant outfits reduced significantly, progressive writer Shahjahan Bachchu was shot dead in Munshiganj on June 11 this year. The murderers, who turned up on two motorbikes, also set off explosives.

Investigators initially thought that two militant organisations -- mainstream JMB and pro-al Qaeda Ansar al Islam -- jointly murdered Bachchu. Finally, they came to know that it was an act of the JMB alone.

A prime suspect in the murder, Abdur Rahman -- the military wing commander of JMB's Dhaka division -- was killed in a shootout with police several days after he was arrested on June 24.

Seeking anonymity, an official of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit said they already got details of several JMB members involved in Bachchu's killing and several robberies.

Besides, another intelligence agency in a special report in May said a top leader of a faction of Gonojagoron Mancha might also be a target of the militants as the mainstream JMB had been monitoring his activities.

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