The Detective Branch of police are taking nine arrestees, who are allegedly members of the Ansarullah Bangla Team, a militant organisation, to the DB office on Minto Road in the capital after producing them before the media at the media cell adjacent to the office yesterday. Photo: Star
Following in the footsteps of Islamist militants in other Muslim countries, Ansarullah Bangla Team had planned to gain control of a part of the country and conduct armed jihad (struggle) from there to make Bangladesh a Sharia-based Islamic state, detectives said yesterday.
Ansarullah, an emergent militant outfit, allegedly involved in planning and committing the February 15 murder of Ahmed Rajib Haider, follows the ideals, policy and strategy of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Pakistan-based Tehrik-e-Taliban.
The group takes training on use of hand grenades, rifle grenades and rockets and other lethal weapons. It even aims at attacking law enforcement agencies' armouries and seizing weapons to carry out armed Jihad across the country.
The organisation has built a radical Islamist network over the last five years and kept close contact with other Islamist militant groups inside the country.
All this revelations came at a press briefing where detectives also disclosed the detention of nine Ansarullah members from different parts of the capital on Saturday.
The nine -- Kazi Mohammad Rezwan, 30, Naimul Hasan, 28, Ali Azad, 28, Jahidul Islam, 27, Junnun Shikder, 27, Amirul Islam, 25, Abu Hanif, 23, Saiful Islam, 21, and Al Asadullah alias Abdullah alias Md Piyas, 19, -- were taken under five days' remand yesterday in a case under the anti-terrorism act.
While making the arrests, the law enforcers seized arms training manuals and scripts, a large number of books on jihad, 25 compact discs of sermons on armed jihad, three laptops, two desktop computers and publications of the group.
At the press briefing, held at the media centre of Dhaka Metropolitan Police in the morning, Joint Commissioner Monirul Islam of Detective Branch explained Ansarullah's organisational structure, finance and links as revealed in the seized documents and primary interrogation of the arrestees.
Starting as an online group active with blogs and websites, Ansarullah emerged as an organisation with a four-stage mission called Imara, the police official added.
"The first level is Dawah,” he explained. “Dawah invites to and inspires people in armed jihad; the second, Idad, is the planning and preparation phase of the jihad.”
In the third stage, Ribat, the organisation will carry out guerrilla attacks on atheists, the persons it considers rivals and government institutions. It will take responsibility for the attacks.
The final stage, Kital, refers to the killing of all opposing forces to establish Sharia-based rule in the country, Monirul said, adding that the team is currently at the Idad stage.
The outfit's central body is called Majlis-e-Shura.
Monirul said the Ansarullah use tactics of international terrorist organisations and operate through sleeper cells which are small units of three to four people to carry out part of an operation.
"Members of one sleeper cell have no information or knowledge of other sleeper cells," he said.
At the beginning of every month, said a detective wishing anonymity, members of Ansarulla plan their activities for the entire month and target who they will kill for “anti-Islam activity”.
FINANCE AND LINKAGES
The Ansarulla team is financed by collections from affluent members who include private university students and those working abroad, and from sales proceeds of the books and CDs of Muhammad Jasimuddin Rahmani, the spiritual leader of the organisation, said detectives.
Jasimuddin, arrested on August 12 from Barguna, is currently under Task Force Intelligence custody for quizzing, Monirul said.
Detectives found that apart from Rajib's killers, Rezwan Sharif, arrested in 2009 in Yemen for his association with AQAP leader Anwar al-Awlaki, Quazi Nafis, currently in a US prison for planning an attack on New York's Federal Reserve Bank; and Rajib Karim, now in a UK prison for planning to blow up a British Airways plane, were all members of Ansarullah.
Monirul claimed that the arrestees had revealed the names of many of their top leaders, including second-in-command Izaz Hossain, who escaped to Pakistan in 2008.
"Some of the websites of the Ansarullah team operates from Pakistan and Izaz controls their activities from there."
He quoted arrestees saying Ansarulla supports radical Islamist groups such as Hefajat-e Islam and many members of the group worked as volunteers at Hefajat's May 5 Dhaka siege programme.
The Daily Star investigation too revealed that Ansarullah had links with such banned Islamist militant groups as Harkat-ul-Jihad-Al Islami (Huji) and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
Detectives said that before emerging as the Ansarullah Bangla Team, the group used to operate under different names such as Jamatul Muslimin and under the banners of different NGOs and research bodies.
Though the exact number of members is not known, Ansarullah is active in Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj, Barguna, Chittagong and Cox's Bazar.