19 ‘joined Neo JMB’ from one upazila
At least 19 youths have joined IS-inspired militant outfit "Neo JMB", an offshoot of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), from a single upazila of Narayanganj, believes counterterrorism unit.
It arrested nine of them in a month.
Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit officials claimed that 10 other youths of Noagaon and Saatgram areas of Araihazar upazila remain missing.
Two members of Neo JMB's military wing Shafiqur Rahman Hridoy alias Baitullah Mehsud alias Captain Khattab and Khalid Hossain Bhuiyan alias Afnan, who were arrested on Sunday, are from the same areas.
CTTC officials have arrested the youths and got information of the missing ones while investigating the remote-controlled Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast incident on May 16 in a traffic police box in Narayanganj.
Rahmat Ullah Chowdhury, additional deputy commissioner of the CTTC unit, told The Daily Star yesterday, "We have arrested some nine youths from the areas and some others are still missing. We are suspecting the youths have links with the militant outfit, but we need some times to verify it."
Sources claimed that at least 20 to 25 youths, aged between 18 and 24, from Noagaon and Saatgram areas, have been traceless for the last six months. Some of them have been identified.
However, the local police did not have any knowledge about the activities of the militant outfit.
Anichur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Araihazar Police Station, told this paper yesterday that general diaries over people going missing were often filed with the police station and they investigated properly each of the complaints.
"But I have no actual idea and need time to give the update of youths missing from the same areas in the last six months," he added.
A high official of the CTTC unit says they are now trying to identify the missing youths and bring them under de-radicalisation programme as most of them are youths.
"The influence of Ahle-Hadith members is huge in the villages of Araihazar upazila and this might be a reason that militants got the scope to drive some youths into militancy," said the official, requesting anonymity.
Sources says the Neo JMB's top priority is now to train all their recruits on making IED through online videos as part of strengthening the outfit's activities.
Even the last two arrestees, Hridoy and Khalid, were also trained up and they made the remote-controlled IED and then planted it in the police box in Narayanganj. All the steps have been taken after Mahadi Hasan Jon alias Abu Abbas Al Bangali became the ameer of the IS-inspired outfit, they said.
Md Asaduzzaman, chief of CTTC unit, said Khalid and Hridoy made IEDs by watching online videos.
According to the case statement filed with Jatrabari Police Station on Sunday following the arrest of the duo, two other youths of Araihazar upazila are also the member of Neo JMB IED cell.
The two youths are Abu Raihan Noman, of Panchrukhi village, and Md Nasim, of Sahapara, reads the case statement.
ADC Rahmat Ullah, also the in-charge of bomb disposal unit of CTTC, said Noman and Nasim and other associates of Khalid and Hridoy went into hiding and drives are on to arrest them.
A STEP INTO MILITANCY
In 2001, Hridoy was born in Noagaon village of Araihazar and he is a student of HSC level. When he was a student of class-X, he first got invitation from Dawatul Islam, a wing of New JMB, according to investigators.
But he did not respond then and continued his study.
But he again got invitation from the outfit, this time via Facebook, and he was inspired and he joined militancy after reading different online articles, they said.
Later, he joined the online messaging apps like telegram and WeChat and got instructions from the Neo JMB chief Jon to attack police.
During interrogation, he admitted that the plan was to attack police personnel as "they are enemy of Islam." Outfit chief Jon instructed him to learn how to make IED by watching online videos.
Spending around Tk 6,000 and three days after their efforts, Hridoy and Khalid were able to make the IED and planted it in the police box. Although they failed to explode it, Jon became happy on the activities and promoted Hridoy as a "captain" in the military wing of Neo JMB.
Addressing reporters on Monday, CTTC chief Asaduzzaman said Neo JMB are very much active on online platforms, but the CTTC is aware of their activities and it is arresting militants before any incident takes place.