Badly hit, not knocked out
The elimination of top militant Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury came as a big blow to “Neo JMB” and officials now believe it will be possible to contain the activities of the terror group.
The group, however, might reorganise itself for further attacks as some key members are still at large, law enforcers said.
Earlier, officials had said there could be a few hundred members of the group, formed by some mainstream Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) members who did not accept the leadership of Saidur Rahman.
Apart from Tamim, eighteen other members of “Neo JMB” have been killed in law enforcers' drives or “crossfire”.
Another top militant, sacked army official Syed Ziaul Haq, operation commander of Ansar al Islam, is still a major concern, said an official.
Ansar al Islam, which is said to be the Bangladesh chapter of al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent, had claimed responsibility for the killing of a number of secular bloggers, a publisher and an LGBT activist.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said that Tamim's chapter has closed and the chapter of Zia will end soon.
Tamim along with two accomplices was killed in an operation at a militant hideout in Narayanganj on Saturday. Chief of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit of DMP Monirul Islam said they suspect some others used to visit the den.
Police have already identified one of his accomplices killed in the operation as Fazle Rabbi from Jessore. They suspect the other one was Tawsif Hossain from Dhanmondi in the capital.
“After the end of Tamim, the militants will have to reorganise. Tamim played a key role in the organisation as the group did not have to worry about money after he joined,” Monirul Islam told journalists yesterday.
Before Tamim was made their coordinator, the activists had to rob banks and mug people for money. It was after he became the chief that bundles of notes started coming in.
“Tamim had the capability to manage funds for the organisation from different sources,” Monirul said.
He recruited smart and educated youths. He knew how to make young men go on suicidal missions, added the top police official.
“Tamim showed his ability to unite youths from peasant families in the villages and those from well-off urban families, and made them carry out terrorist attacks together. He maintained communications with like-minded militant friends abroad.”
Police found out that some of the money collected by Tamim came through unauthorised channels.
Referring to the recovery of Tk 38.86 lakh from IS militant Saiful Haque Sujan's father and younger brother in Dhaka in November or December last year, he said the money was supposed to be handed over to Tamim.
Saiful's father Abul Hasnat admitted to providing Tk 6 lakh to Tamim. The amounts came from Spain through China through illegal channels and a money laundering case was filed over this, he said.
Saiful, a Bangladesh-origin militant of Islamic State, was reportedly killed in an airstrike in Syria on December 10 last year.
Educated as a computer systems engineer in the UK, Saiful was an “external operations planner” for IS. He was one of the top 10 listed IS leaders.
A few days before the death of Saiful, Bangladesh detectives arrested his father and 15-year-old brother Hasanul Haque alias Galib Mahmud and three others over their suspected links to militancy.
Officer-in-Charge of Narayanganj Sadar Police Station Asaduzzaman yesterday morning filed a case under the Anti-Terrorism Act accusing Tamim, his two accomplices and several others, said Additional Superintendent of Police Faruk Hossain.
Besides, Nuruddin Dewan, owner of a three-storey house in Paikpara of Narayanganj, was arrested in a separate case. Tamim and his aides rented a flat on the building to use it as a den.
Nuruddin was charged with hiding information about the militants.
He was picked up along with nine others from the house after the raid codenamed “Operation Hit Strong 27” killed Tamim and two other militants.
The nine other detainees were released early yesterday after interrogation.
From the den, police recovered arms and ammunition including an AK-22 rifle, one pistol, 20 rounds of bullets, three magazines, three cleavers, one knife and some hammers.
The autopsies on the bodies of Tamim and the two other militants were conducted yesterday, said Sohel Mahmud, assistant professor of forensic department at Dhaka Medical College.
“All the three men died of bullet injuries, and we found several marks of bullet on different parts of their bodies, including heads,” he said.
“We also found some marks of splinter in the bodies, except for Tamim's. But we found a bullet inside his head,” the professor said.
The forensic department has collected the sample of their thigh muscles and hair for DNA test. Their blood, urine and viscera samples will also be tested to know whether they were under the influence of any performance-enhancing drug.
The morgue sources said the bodies have been kept at the mortuary and no one has come yet to identify the bodies.