The Rapid Action Battalion has claimed to have arrested the main coordinator of the banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh and his four associates with explosives and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
The arrests come about a month after the Burdwan blast in India in which Indian investigators have found JMB links.
However, the Rab is yet to ascertain if the five had any involvement in the October 2 blast, which killed two suspected militants while they were making IEDs. The two were reportedly Bangladesh nationals.
"We got little time to interrogate them. We will grill them intensively during remand on the matter [Burdwan blast],” said Commander Mufti Mahmud Khan, director (legal and media wing) of the crime busting force.
All the five, including the alleged chief coordinator of JMB Abdun Nur, are from Chapainawabganj district near the Indian border. The four others are Nur Islam, Nuruzzaman Arif, Abul Kalam Azad and Faruque Ahmed. They are all aged between 30 and 40.
They were paraded before the media at the Rab headquarters in Uttara yesterday afternoon, after their arrests around 2:30am from Sirajganj Railway Station.
According to the Rab, they were going to Joydevpur from Chapainawabganj.
Commander Mufti said they recovered four IEDs from the possession of the suspected militants, and if exploded they can kill people within 30 to 35 meter (about 100 feet) radius.
Also seized are 75 electronic detonators, 10kg power gels, 155 circuits, three igniters and one power regulator, he added.
The JMB operatives were moving the explosives and IEDs in the face of the recent crackdown on militants across the country, the Rab official said.
He, however, could not say where those explosives were being taken or where they came from.
"The final destination of the recovered IEDs and explosives was not Joydevpur. They [militants] usually move explosives in relays,” he said, adding that the arrestees were perhaps trying to hand those over to another group.
According to him, the militants were regrouping, taking advantage of the current political situation. They were also plotting to reassert their existence by exploding bombs at public gatherings across the country.
Abdun Nur used to maintain contact with absconding JMB chief Sohel Mahfuz and other leaders who fled the country. He also was in touch with the detained JMB leaders, claimed Commander Mufti.
Nur was a notorious robber before becoming a JMB operative, Mufti said, adding that he was accused in six robbery cases and served five years in a Gopalganj Jail where some detained JMB men motivated him to join the militant group. He came out of prison in 2010.
Asked whether the detainees made the IEDs themselves, the Rab official said, "They did not have the expertise to make bombs. We are trying to find out who made those and where those came from.”
Earlier on September 19, the Detective Branch of police claimed to have arrested JMB acting chief Abdullah Al-Tasnim Nahid.
Nahid, 29, and six of his accomplices were paraded before the media at the DB office in the capital.
When pointed this out, Commander Mufti said: "We do not know whom the police [detectives] arrested. But we are sure Abdun Nur is the main coordinator of the JMB and also the chief of its Chapainawabganj unit."