Terror Financing: Rokon gave Neo JMB Tk 80 lakh
Rokonuddin Khondoker, who fled to Syria with his family, and militant suspects Major (retd) Jahidul Islam and Tanvir Kaderi made donations to the “Neo JMB” that carried out the Gulshan Holey Artisan attack, a top investigator said yesterday.
Before leaving for the war-ravaged country, Rokonuddin, a pediatrician of Dhaka Shishu Hospital, asked several of his relatives and others who owed him around Tk 80 lakh to give the money to the radical group instead of paying him back.
Some of them, however, pocketed a portion of the money, said Monirul Islam, chief of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), adding that one who was supposed to pay Rokonuddin Tk 10 lakh gave the group just Tk 30,000.
Before leaving, Rokonuddin gave his relatives and others, whom he had lent money, the contact details of the militants, Monirul said while talking to reporters after a press conference at the DMP Media Centre.
He, however, did not disclose the identities of those who were to pay the money.
Rokonuddin, his wife Naima Akhter, an associate professor of Botany of Jessore MM College, their two daughters -- Rezwana Rokon Nadia and Ramita Rokon -- and Nadia's husband Saad Qayes Shishir left their home in Khilgaon in July last year, saying they would visit Malaysia but did not return.
The family reportedly went to Syria, a part of which is a stronghold of the Islamic State (IS), quitting civil service jobs and leaving behind huge properties.
Rokonuddin is now working as a child specialist at an IS-controlled hospital in Syria's Raqqah while his wife is probably teaching children at a school there, said a top police official.
“Neo JMB military commander Major (retd) Jahid” who trained the Gulshan café attackers gave all his retirement money and savings to the outfit, said Monirul.
Jahid was killed during a police raid in Rupnagar of the capital on September 2.
Tanvir Kaderi, who killed himself during a September 10 raid on a militant den in Azimpur, donated all his money to “Neo JMB”. He had got the money selling his flat in Uttara, said police.
Tanvir and his wife Abedatul Fatema alias Khadiza also had lucrative jobs before they got involved in militancy.
Tanvir was responsible for looking after a militant fund collected from sources at home and abroad, police added.
Basharuzzaman alias Chocolate, who escaped during the Azimpur raid, used to receive the money and ensure delivery of funds when necessary.
His wife Khadiza, Basharuzzaman's wife Ferdousi Afrin, and another top “Neo JMB” leader Nurul Islam Marzan's wife Shaila Afrin alias Prioty were arrested.
Monirul said all the three female “militants” are now repenting that they had gotten involved in militancy.
Earlier, investigators had found that a portion of the fund for the deadly Gulshan and Sholakia attacks in July had come from a Middle Eastern country.
The amount was Tk 13.40 lakh and it arrived in Bangladesh from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through Hundi, an illegal way of money transferring.
The sender is a sympathiser of “Neo JMB”, an offshoot of banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, the investigator had said earlier.
“The Neo JMB may also have other financiers abroad. Our investigation is underway,” Monirul said during yesterday's press conference.
Investigators believe “Neo JMB” carried out the two attacks -- one in Gulshan's Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1 killing 20 hostages and two police officials and the other near the Sholakia Eidgah on July 7 leaving two policemen, a woman and a militant suspect dead.
“Neo JMB”, as called by law enforcers, is now inspired by the ideology of Islamic State. It does not keep any fund deposited in any bank. Rather they keep the fund with their operatives who are reliable but do not hold any key position in the organisation, Monirul added.
One such reliable operative is Abdur Rahman, said a police official but did not say whether this Abdur Rahman was the militant who jumped to his death during a recent Rab raid in Ashulia.
The Neo JMB used the fund for renting houses, purchasing firearms, and paying salaries and living expenditure of full-time members.
Monirul said since Tanvir's wife resided in the Bashundhara den of the militants and used to cook for the Holey Artisan attackers, she might be an accused in the Holey Artisan attack case.