2 top 'Neo JMB' men in India
Two top “Neo JMB” leaders, who were involved in the killing of Prof Rezaul Karim Siddiquee, went to India months before the Gulshan café siege possibly to ensure supply of firearms for the terror attack, police say.
Mamunur Rashid Ripon alias Jahangir and Shariful Islam Khaled left for India in April, days after the murder of the Rajshahi University professor.
“We suspect they went to India probably to ensure supply of firearms used in the Gulshan attack,” said a top official of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the DMP, wishing anonymity.
He, however, added it is also possible that the two fled to evade arrest as law enforcers came to know their identity and involvement in the Prof Rezaul murder.
Contacted yesterday, CTTC unit chief Monirul Islam said, “Ripon and Khaled went to the neighbouring country in April and they have been hiding there since then.”
Police have already informed New Delhi about the two.
“We have also come to know the address of the Kolkata hotel where they boarded after going to India. Later, they left the hotel,” added another top official.
CTTC sources said Ripon is from a northern district. He has the potential to take over the position of Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury.
“Neo JMB” coordinator Tamim was killed along with his two accomplices in an operation at a militant den in Narayanganj on Saturday. He was thought to be the Gulshan attack mastermind.
Police say Ripon played a key role in all the attacks carried out in the northern region and reportedly claimed by so-called Islamic State.
The “Neo JMB”, as the law enforcers call it, follows the ideology of Islamic State. It was formed by leaders and operatives of mainstream JMB who did not accept the leadership of Saidur Rahman.
Khaled, who studied in English department of Rajshahi University, coordinated the April 23 attack in which Prof Rezaul Karim was hacked to death, police say.
Recently, three officials from CTTC and the police headquarters visited India and interrogated Islamic State operative Abu Al-Musa Al-Bangali, arrested in India recently. Police sources said Musa had connections with Ripon and Khaled.
After the July 1 attack at Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan, law enforcers recovered three AK-22 semiautomatic rifles, seven AK-22 magazines and 79 of its bullets.
Five 9mm pistols, 50 bullets and around 200 bullet shells were also seized from the restaurant.
Investigators said the AK-22s were first smuggled to Nepal from where those were carried to India before reaching to Dhaka through Chapainawabganj border.
Besides, the pistols were smuggled from Munger district of Bihar in India through the same border.
“Different explosive materials including power gel and detonators were also smuggled through the Chapainawabganj border,” said a top investigator.
He also said they have so far identified around 10 people who played direct or indirect roles in carrying the firearms and explosives materials from Chapainawabganj to Dhaka.
On the night of July 1, militants seized the cafe, frequented by foreigners, and killed 20 hostages, including nine Italian, seven Japanese and one Indian citizen.
Two police officers were also killed in their bid to end the siege.
Police are also hunting some other “Neo JMB” leaders, including a retired army man known among militants as Major.
He trained “Neo JMB” operatives for different attacks at a Char in Gaibandha. He might become the coordinator of the group as he has the capacity to carry out big terror operations leading to massive destruction.
He, however, lacks the intellectual capability Tamim had, said a top CTTC official.
Police are also looking for four other operatives -- Jahangir Alam alias Rajiv Gandhi, 27, Manik, Chocolate and Chittagong University student Nurul Islam Marzan.
According to the official, Marzan, who was a close aide to Tamim, has the ability to take the position of Tamim. He is intelligent and can speak Arabic and English fluently, a skill needed to maintain international connection.
Jahangir Alam alias Rajiv Gandhi is another key leader of “Neo JMB”. Also known as Tiger alias Shanto alias Adil alias Subhas, he played significant role in different attacks.
Details about Manik and Chocolate could not be known.
TAMIM'S DNA SAMPLE TO BE SENT TO CANADA
Officials at the CTTC unit said the DNA sample of Tamim will be sent to Canada to check if it matches up with that of his father and sister living there.
“We'll appeal to a Dhaka court tomorrow [today] for permission to send Tamim's DNA sample to Canadian authorities to scientifically confirm his identity,” a top official of CTTC told The Daily Star yesterday.
The Bangladeshi-Canadian grabbed the attention of law enforcers early last year.
After coming to Bangladesh in 2013, Tamim met Mawlana Abul Quasem, who has been the acting ameer of banned JMB since the arrest of Saidur Rahman.
Quasem, known to the outfit members as “Boro Hujur”, was a teacher at Okhrabari Madrasa in Dinajpur. He acted as the ideologue for militants, police sources said.