A man who is believed to have masterminded operations of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) in Rajshahi in 2004 and been freed on being arrested three times since then was apprehended by police in Rajshahi's Bagmara upazila yesterday.
Arrested on a tip-off at the Hamirkutsa polythene market area around 11:00am, Mahtab Khamaru is wanted in a case filed with Bagmara Police Station in June under the anti-terrorism act, said Officer-in-Charge Selim Hossain.
Son of Mohammad Ali Khamaru of Talgharia village, he is also accused in two torture and extortion cases of 2004, the trials over which are now ongoing, he added.
The around 50-year-old identifies himself as a member of Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal.
However, police say he was a regional commander of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and the second-in-command of executed JMB leader Siddiqul Islam Bangla Bhai.
As per information revealed over the years by sources including JMB, locals, law enforcers and intelligence agencies, Mahtab was arrested on November 27, 2005; March 9, 2007 and July 23, 2012.
According to a US embassy cable released by Wikileaks, he was released in 2005 as per the then prime minister Khaleda Zia's elder son Tarique Rahman's request to the state minister for home.
The sources said prior to announcing their presence, top JMB leaders operated under the JMJB banner on an experimental basis in Naldanga of Natore, Bagmara of Rajshahi and Atrai and Raninagar upazilas of Naogaon.
Within a few months past April 2004, JMJB killed at least 22 persons and mimed a few hundred by torturing them overnight in secret camps, they added.
The groups aimed at establishing Islamic rule and were banned on February 23, 2005.
He, along with other local JMJB masterminds including Lutfar Rahman, Abdus Sattar and Abul Hossain, led an armed rally in Rajshahi city on May 23, 2004 under police protection, said the sources.
In the 90s, Mahtab was an organiser of communist outlaws and has been terrorising the upazila residents, along with outlaw cadres Fartul and Sayeed Maker, following his father Mohammad Ali Khamaru's defeat to Abdul Ahad Ali Sardar in the 1991 union parishad polls, they said.