After police cordoned off the Ashkona militant hideout early Saturday, Maynul Musa instructed his wife Trisha Moni to wear a suicide vest and blow up herself along with their four-month-old daughter instead of surrendering to law enforcers.
Trisha, however, did not carry out the instruction as her motherly love for the baby stopped her from detonating the vest.
So, she decided to surrender, according to her statement to an official of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the DMP during interrogation.
Sensing that police encircled the den, Trisha communicated with her husband using an encrypted messaging app and wanted his advice about the next course of action.
“Musa then asked his wife and all other women to wear the suicide vests and blow themselves up,” the official said.
Musa took the helm of radical group “Neo JMB” as most of its top leaders died in anti-terror operations following the July 1 Gulshan café attack. The other top leaders are either arrested or under police surveillance, officials say.
The last time Musa visited the Ashkona flat on the ground floor of a three-storey building was on Tuesday when he brought bombs and grenades there.
Two other militants who go by the name of Firoz and Selim in theorganisation also used to visit the den.
Replying to a query, the CTTC official said “Neo JMB” still has one expert bombmaker. Other bomb experts are dead or behind bars or on the run.
A police source said a militant, aged around 18, managed to escape from the flat just before the operation.
Another woman, Jebunnahar Shila, widow of Major (retd) Jahid alias Murad, surrendered along with her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter and with a 9mm pistol and six bullets during the anti-militant operation codenamed “Ripple 24”.
According to CTTC officials, Trisha has expressed remorse for being within militant circle. But Shila has not.
Also during the operation, a suspected militant named Shakira detonated her suicide vest while rushing to police with her four-year-old daughter Sabina in an apparent motive to blow herself up in the midst of policemen. She was, however, still a few steps away from the law enforcers.
Shakira was killed in the blast with part of her body badly damaged and Sabina suffered severe injuries. A police official was also wounded.
“Analysing our intelligence and information from the militants who surrendered, it seems that the woman [Shakira] could carry out suicide attacks with her daughter elsewhere [had she been alive],” CTTC unit chief Monirul Islam told reporters at Ashkona yesterday evening as a search was going on in the den.
Shakira first married Iqbal, father of Sabina. After Iqbal died from cancer, she married Suman.
Suman, a suspected militant, has been missing for over a month, the official added.
Around 7:30pm yesterday, a police team left the spot with the body of deceased militant suspect, 14-year-old Afif Kaderi, for Dhaka Medical College morgue. Morgue sources said the body reached there around 11:30pm.
Afif, son of “Neo JMB” leader Tanvir Kaderi, who committed suicide during a raid at Azimpur on September 10, got killed around Saturday afternoon during the operation.
Rejecting the call for surrender, Afif opened fire at police, and the law enforcers retaliated by firing shots and gas grenades.
Officials say the boy committed suicide or died in the police firing.
Monirul said the militants burnt Tk 12 lakh, a laptop, some mobile phones and documents. It seems that they were using the hideout as their office, he added.
During the search starting at 10:30am yesterday, bomb disposal unit of the CTTC recovered seven grenades, two suicide vests -- one with six bombs and the other with four -- and two unexploded bombs from the vest that Shakira detonated.
Two 9mm pistols with two live ammunition, and huge bomb-making materials were also found at the den.
Officials later defused the grenades and bombs.
Meanwhile, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia told reporter at a city programme that Musa, a listed militant, is still in Bangladesh and police are conducting drives to arrest him.
Replying to a query about the possible motive of storing the arms and ammunition at Ashkona den, the commissioner said, “We are at the primary stage of the investigation.”
But, he said, so far they know that it was the continuation of militant activities after Gulshan attack.
A case has been filed over Saturday's incident with Dakkhin Khan Police Station under anti-terrorism act.
ZIA, MARZAN 'UNDER SURVEILLANCE'
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Major (sacked) Syed Ziaul Haque and Nurul Islam Marzan, who had played vital roles in the Gulshan attack and targeted killings, will be arrested anytime.
“They will be arrested anytime as they are always under our surveillance,” the minister said while talking to reporters after attending a programme at Shishu Academy in the capital.
According to police, Zia, alleged military wing chief of the banned militant outfit Ansar al Islam, had a hand in the targeted killings and murders of bloggers.
Marzan is said to be a top leader of “Neo JMB”.
[Rafiul Islam contributed to this report]