Many of the JMB men convicted in the August 17 series bomb blast cases walked out of prison after serving their jail term and it remains a big challenge for law enforcers to keep them under surveillance, say counterterrorism officials.
Police could not give the exact number of the JMB extremists who went out of jail in the cases filed over the attack in 2005, but one counterterrorism official said they have information the figure would be around 50.
Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime officials said since the cases were filed under the Explosives Substances Act and the highest punishment is 10 years’ imprisonment, many of the convicts have already completed their jail terms.
On this day in 2005, around 500 bombs went off at 300 locations in 63 out of the 64 districts across the country. The bombs exploded in half an hour from 11:30am.
Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned militant outfit, carried out the attack and claimed responsibility for it.
Some 159 cases were filed in connection with the attack. Investigators pressed charges against 1,072 militants in 142 of the cases. Final reports were placed in the rest 17 cases.
According to Police Headquarters statistics, 322 accused were convicted while 358 were acquitted till September last year. As many as 133 accused were on bail. The rest are still facing trial.
Contacted, Md Moniruzzaman, additional deputy inspector general of police of the Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU), said the JMB had no organisational strength, but the outfit was still active and “It will do something if it gets a chance”.
“Although chances of an organised attack are very slim, risk is still there,” he said.
On the other hand, the capacity of law enforcers, including online surveillance, has increased, he said.
Moniruzzaman also said they keep record of the militants involved in the 2005 series bomb blasts, their modus operandi and types of explosives they used.
Moreover, the ATU analyses all bomb attack incidents and often suggests other police units about measures required to tackle militancy.
“We are concerned about activities of JMB, Ansar Al Islam and Hizb ut-Tahrir. The overall capacity of JMB is higher than that of others,” he said.
Asked whether such militants are under police radar, Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general (media) at Police Headquarters on Thursday said, a process of bringing all militant suspects under monitoring had begun across the country.
The ATU has prepared a division-wise database of all militants.
“It is challenging to some extent as many go into hiding after being released,” he said, adding that it was hard to track when anyone goes into hiding.
He said they always try to know every update of the militants and their whereabouts through contacting their family members, relatives and friends.
Besides, they try to find out those on the run, he said.
Meanwhile, the CTTC is providing assistance to five ex-JMB militants who, on completion of their jail term, returned to their families and families of three others who are in jail.
The move has been taken recently so that JMB cannot reengage them in militant activities, Saiful Islam, deputy commissioner of the unit, told The Daily Star yesterday.
“We often see that militant outfits take financial responsibility of the families of their jailed members. We believe our initiative will keep them away from the path of militancy,” he added.