An upazila-level Jubo League leader arranged safe passage for death row Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh leader Rakib Hasan Russell after he was snatched along with two other key leaders of the banned militant outfit in Mymensingh in February, an arrestee said today.
Ataur Rahman Kamal, joint secretary of Bhaluka upazila unit of Jubo League, formed a six-member team to pick up Rakib from Trishal and drop him at Fulbaria in Mymensingh, said one of the eight people nabbed in different parts of the country yesterday in connection with the sensational snatching.
The arrestee, Kamal Hossain alias Sabuj, 38, also claimed to be involved with "Awami League politics" while talking to reporters.
Elite force Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), which made the latest arrests, produced the arrestees before media during a press briefing at its headquarters in Uttara today.
In a well-orchestrated plan, an armed gang of 10-15, all masked, ambushed a prison van, killed a police constable and snatched away three convicted JMB militants -- two of them on death row -- in Trishal upazila of Mymensingh on February 23. About five hours after the incident, police captured one of the three from Shakhipur of Tangail.
Produced before the journalists during the Rab briefing today, Sabuj said the Jubo League leader briefed him that a team will ambush the prison van carrying three convicted JMB leaders -- Rakib alias Hafez Mahmud, Salauddin Ahmed alias Salehin and Zahidul Islam alias "Boma" Mizan.
Rakib and Salauddin were sentenced to death and "Boma" Mizan to 37 years in prison in different cases.
"As per Ataur's instruction, I, along with five others went to the spot by three motorcycles in Signboard area of Trishal," Sabuj said.
As per the plan, Rakib got on one of the motorcycles as the team headed for Fulbaria upazila.
"After we dropped him (Rakib) at Fulbaria, our job was done," he said.
Rakib, who was commander of the militant outfit in Khulna division, was nabbed around 3:00pm at Shakhipur in Tangail while he was fleeing on a three-wheeler.
Following his escape from the prison van, he had shaved his long beard to avoid arrest, but police identified him from the marks of fetters on his hands and legs. Less than 19 hours after his escape from the prison van, Rakib was killed at Mirzapur of Tangail in what law enforcers termed "crossfire".
Sabuj claimed to have no knowledge how Rakib ended up in at Sakhipur.
Briefing reporters on the latest arrest, Habibur Rahman, commander of Rab media wing, said the eight arrestees include two human traffickers. They are Anwar Hossain, 40, and Nasir Uddin.
"They were tasked with sending Russell to abroad", Sabuj said.
The other arrestees are: Yusuf Ali alias Sohan, Suhel Rana, Morshad Alam, Ilias Uddin and Abu Bakar Siddique alias Shwapan.