Hunt on for key Neo-JMB bomb expert
Ismail Hasan Furkan, the key explosives expert and trainer of Neo-JMB, is at the top of the law enforcers' wanted list as he continues to make most of its members efficient in producing bombs.
Dubbed "explosives guru" by the law enforcers, Furkan has been leading three cells with 20 members each since 2018 and training them online on how to make Improvised Explosive Device (IED) with materials easily available in the market , say counterterrorism officials.
Their aim is to carry out frequent attacks on targets and strengthen organisational activities, officials added.
The hardened militant and chemistry graduate from Jahangirnagar University has acquired all the skills needed for making explosives. He has given the law enforcers a serious cause for concern.
"Furkan is at the top of our wanted list," said Md Rahmat Ullah Chowdhury, additional deputy commissioner of the bomb disposal unit under the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit.
"The 'explosives guru' is also always busy with research to develop more powerful IEDs by fine mixing of materials available in the market to detonate those using remote controlled devices," he told The Daily Star recently.
Furkan, also known as Zahid Hasan alias Raju, was born in October 1994 in an impoverished family in Borguna's Patharghata upazila.
He got admitted to Jahangirnagar University in 2012. He completed honours, but could not finish his masters. He used to earn by tutoring students, said a CTTC official.
After receiving an invitation from the militant group in 2016, he opened a Facebook ID under the name Ismail Hasan.
He contacted a leader of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya insurgent group active in northern Rakhine State of Myanmar, and tried five times to visit Myanmar to fight for the organisation, the official added.
According to CTTC, Furkan has been involved in Neo-JMB for about five years, but the unit had little information about him.
The militant makes manuals and videos on manufacturing IEDs and then shares those with the members of the cells through end-to-end encrypted apps.
Each of the three cells -- Edat-1, Edat-2 and Edat-3 -- has 20 members, said another CTTC official.
Arabic word "Edat" stands for preparation.
"Sometimes he opens a temporary ID on encrypted apps where he himself makes IEDs to be watched by his followers directly," the CTTC official said, wishing anonymity.
After being trained, a member of the militant outfit can easily make an IED at home. It costs between Tk 2,000 and Tk 2,400 to make an IED, the official added.
He said the IEDs may cause major damages and casualties within the radius of 20-25 square yards from the centre of the detonation.
Asked why the militant group is trying to train most of its members in bomb-making, the official said they will get more attention if their members can carry out frequent attacks on their targets.
Furkan maintains direct contact with the incumbent Neo-JMB ameer, Mahadi Hasan Jon, also known as Abu Abbas al Bangali, who is believed to be operating the outfit from Turkey, counterterrorism officials said.
In May, the IS-inspired Neo-JMB placed a powerful remote-controlled IED in front of a traffic police box in Siddhirganj, Narayanganj, but it did not detonate due to failure of a remote control device, said an officer of the bomb disposal unit which went to the scene and defused the bomb.