ABT converting cash to Bitcoin to buy arms
To dodge the law enforcers, members of banned militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) are converting their funds to Bitcoin and planning to use the cryptocurrency in the dark web to buy firearms and narcotics, police claimed.
They use messengers like “Telegram” and “WhatsApp” to make their communication secure, counterterrorism officials told The Daily Star yesterday, adding that the outfit collects funds through different mobile banking services.
Later, they convert their funds to dollars and use it to buy Bitcoins, the officials said, adding that a five-member “cell” of ABT was controlling the whole process.
Cryptocurrency is a type of money that is completely virtual. One can use it like an online version of cash to buy products and services, though some countries have banned it altogether.
The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit claimed to have got the information after arresting two members of the cell -- Awal Newaz, 38, and Fazle Rabbi Chowdhury, 18 – on Wednesday.
A CTTC team arrested the two with Islamist books and a mobile phone in the capital’s Jatrabari area. They had gone there to attend a secret meeting of ABT members, said Ahamedul Islam, additional deputy commissioner of CTTC.
A case was filed with Jatrabari Police Station in connection with the incident.
According to the First Information Report of the case, Rabbi got involved
in militancy activities two years ago after getting an invitation from Joynal alias Jony, 18, a student of a polytechnic college in Sylhet.
Jony also provided him some literature of ABT’s spiritual leader Jashimuddin Rahmani, who is now in jail.
When Rabbi agreed to work for the ABT, Jony asked him to open a Telegram account and added him to a telegram channel titled “Fee Sabillillah in Sam”.
The channel is maintained by an account named Saad, reads the FIR.
The cell members used to send different “videos of Muslims being persecuted” in Syria and Myanmar to ABT supporters and asked them to donate money for running so-called jihadi activities, said ADC Ahamedul.
The cell members also sent some instructions to its supporters on how to send money to them, he said.
According to the instructions, a member has to donate money from roadside mobile banking service agents who does not have permanent shops.
“We have so far been able to identify 50 supporters who have donated around Tk 4 lakh in the last one year,” said ADC Ahamedul.
“We are now trying to collect details of Saad and other members of the outfit,” he added.