‘Neo JMB’ rising again? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 29, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:00 AM, September 29, 2020

‘Neo JMB’ rising again?

Declares new chief, Majlis-e-Sura members

Militant outfit "Neo JMB" has declared its new chief and brought changes in the top leadership as the IS-inspired terror group is trying to get back on its feet by reorganising its structure.

The organisational name of the new chief is Abul Abbas Al-Bangali Hafizullah, who is of Bangladeshi origin and now staying abroad, according to highly placed sources.

The declaration, made in encrypted channels in the first week of this month, however, has caused the outfit to split. Members of one faction, who were the followers of previous chief Abu Mohammad, have stopped showing activities in their secret channels, the sources said.

Counterterrorism officials who are following the outfit's activities said they were not getting any trace of Abu Mohammad's followers since the declaration of the new chief.

"We are suspecting that the faction led by Abu Mohammad might have created a separate wing," a high official of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of DMP told The Daily Star recently.

The ultra-radical offshoot of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh -- "Neo JMB" as called by law enforcement officials -- also brought changes in Majlis-e-Sura, the central governing body.

According to sources, the new Sura members are Abu Amer Al Bangali, Abu Ruham Al Bengali, Abu Adnan Al Bangali, Abu Dujana Al Bangali and Abu Ahsan Al Bangali.

Like the new chief, most of them are staying out of the country.

"We came to know that Abul Abbas Al-Bangali Hafizullah is his organisational name. He is of Bangladeshi origin and staying abroad," said a high official of CTTC unit but failed to give the chief's current location.

As the chief and most of the Sura members are abroad, only some sleeper cell leaders of the outfit are now steering the activities inside the country, the official added.

Asked about the new leadership, Saiful Islam, deputy commissioner of CTTC unit, told The Daily Star that they have learned about the changes in "Neo JMB".

"We have got some organisational names and we are now collecting information about their activities and whereabouts. We will be able to specify once our investigation completes," he added.

A high official of CTTC unit said the "Neo JMB" declared the new leadership following the arrest of Shibbir Ahmed, 22, last month.

Shibbir allegedly used to maintain communications with some IS-inspired militants in the Philippines, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, France and Afghanistan.

"We are suspecting he was one of the key planners of the outfit and we may interrogate him again if necessary," said the official, wishing not to be named.

In fact, the CTTC official said, they first came to know about the previous chief, Abu Mohammad, from Shibbir's statement.

According to the new declaration, the outfit's plan is to secure its online communications, get arrested members released and increase its strength.

The "Neo JMB" lost much of its strength following the killings of its chief coordinator Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury and many other key leaders in anti-militancy drives in the aftermath of the Holey Artisan Bakery attack in 2016.

Yet, the militants have been trying to reorganise and launch attacks.

Just before the Eid-ul Azha this July, the Police Headquarters issued alert about possible attacks by "Neo JMB" as officials said there was intelligence that the so-called IS decided to announce formation of a new wing called "Bengal Ulayat".

Around that time, a 10-member sleeper cell of the outfit tried to conduct subversive activities in different areas of the country.

Officials say the outfit planned to carry out its first attack in recent times at Shahjalal shrine on July 23 but that was foiled.

The next day, they left an improvised explosive device (IED) in the capital's Paltan area. It later exploded but no casualty or injury was reported.

On July 31, the cell members blasted a small crude bomb at a temple in Naogaon but no one got hurt.

The outfit also claimed to have "killed a practitioner of witchcraft" in Gazipur on July 31. Police said they never found a body but the matter was being probed.

The outfit is now running its activities online and its members are maintaining communications with each other through encrypted applications, especially "Wire" and "Telegram", according to CTTC officials who came to know it after interrogating some recently arrested members.

A recent CTTC research said the number of terrorist incidents has come down significantly but radicalisation is on the rise. CTTC chief Monirul Islam echoed the same at a programme on Sunday. 

The DC of CTTC unit, Saiful Islam, said the outfit does not have much strength to conduct any major attack; it is mostly focusing on strengthening online communication.

"We have already increased our online vigilance to track them," he added.


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