Detectives collect samples from the scene at Jamiatul Ulum Al Islamia Madrasa in Chittagong city yesterday where a blast left a student dead and six others wounded the day before. Law enforcers are trying to identify the explosives. The Islamic education centre is run by a Hefajat-e Islam leader. Photo: Star
Banned militant outfits plan to carry out terrorist attacks in the country once political turmoil over the polls-time government takes a turn for the worse after October 24, said top officials of the home ministry and police.
“The recent arrest of some militants and Hefajat-e Islam men, and Monday's explosion at a Chittagong madrasa are not isolated incidents. There is no doubt that they will try to create anarchy,” said a senior police official, preferring anonymity.
These elements made attempts to carry out terrorist attacks but couldn't succeed due to the government agencies' constant watch and crackdown on militants over the past few years, said the official.
“It, however, does not mean that they will not be successful if there is any political unrest.”
The five Islamist outfits that have been banned so far for militant and anti-government activities are Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Harkatul Jihad al Islami (Huji), Shahadat-e Al-Hikma, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and Hizb ut-Tahrir.
But these outfits have either opened new fronts or are secretly working with little-known organisations to continue their operations.
Huji established links with some Hefajat leaders, as it was having difficulties in carrying out operations following the ban on the outfit in 2005, said sources in Chittagong police.
Hefajat Nayeb-e-Ameer Mufti Izharul Islam Chowdhury, who set up the madrasa where the explosion occurred, is a suspected Huji activist.
He was reportedly present at the press conference in Dhaka on April 30, 1992 when Afghan war returnees announced the launch of Huji in Bangladesh.
Rab personnel detained him on December 16, 2010 for his alleged links with Huji.
Meanwhile, Sanwar Hossain, additional deputy commissioner of the Bomb Disposal Unit at Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said the improvised explosive devices recovered from the madrasa on Monday are similar to those found in a JMB hideout in the capital's Jurain in 2009.
“We suspect that Hefajat men may have received expertise from JMB operatives,” he told The Daily Star.
In the wake of potential threats, the government has intensified vigilance and asked the intelligence agencies to keep a close watch on the Hefajat-controlled Qawmi madrasas, a home ministry high-up told The Daily Star yesterday on condition of anonymity.
"Monday's blast at the Hefajat leader's madrasa exposed its [Hefajat] militant nature. Intelligence agencies are gathering information about the source from which the Hefajat men got the explosives, and how many Hefajat men have been trained to make explosives."
Shafiqul Islam, commissioner of Chittagong Metropolitan Police, yesterday said the Hefajat men control four Qawmi madrasas in Chittagong city, and have influence over at least 12 madrasas there.
"Following the explosion, the Hefajat men escaped the scene [Jamiatul Ulum Al Islamia Madrasa at Lalkhan] through a hidden passage."
"Hefajat men built several hidden exits at the madrasa located in a remote hilly area," he added.