Ansar Al Islam leader arrested
The Rab yesterday said it arrested Mahmudul Hasan Gunobi, a spiritual leader of pro-al Qaeda militant outfit Ansar Al Islam, in the capital's Shah Ali Beribandh area on Thursday.
Gunobi, 36, also known as Hasan, used to deliver religious speeches at different madrasas to identify a target group, lure them into militancy and train them in secret dens in the country's hilly areas, said law enforcement officials.
He also delivered religious sermons to Rohingyas at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar a few months ago with an aim to recruit Rohingyas.
Gunobi, who was once involved with banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Huji-B), has close links with a number of Hefajat-e Islam leaders, officials told The Daily Star.
After becoming acquainted with another Ansar Al Islam spiritual leader Jashim Uddin Rahmani, Gunobi became involved with the banned militant outfit. He established himself as a propagandist of extremism after the arrest of Rahmani, claimed Rab.
Gunobi played a special role in the invitation and training programmes of Ansar Al Islam, said Rab.
Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, Rab Director (Legal and Media Wing) Commander Khandaker Al Moin said, "Gunobi is a spiritual leader of Ansar Al Islam. He propagates militancy under cover of his profession."
He said Gunobi is associated with multiple religious organisations and institutions and several of his close associates from those platforms have already been arrested over their involvement in militancy.
The Rab director said Gunobi used to run "shadow organisations" within the organisation to propagate extremist ideologies. The shadow organisation members, called "Manhaji" members, inspired others to get involved in militancy.
The arrestee took a special initiative to involve people from other religions in militancy after converting them to Islam under the banner of an organisation named "Dawat Islam".
The Rab official said Gunobi during primary interrogation admitted that they used to take people to their secret dens and give them special training to change them philosophically and get them involved with Ansar Al Islam.
"Before the training, the trainees are separated from their relatives, families and friends. The trainees are kept away from outside life, society, politics, culture and science."
The trainees lose their emotions, feelings, intelligence, family ties and judicious knowledge due to misinterpretation of religion. In this way, those people are turned into brutal militants, said Al Moin.
According to the Rab official, Gunobi went into hiding in early May to avoid arrest. He travelled from Cumilla to Khagrachhari and hid in a remote hilly area. He went to Bandarban late last month in the wake of an operation by a law enforcement agency.
He then moved to Char Gazaria and Char Ramiz in Laxmipur before travelling to the country's north. He had a plan to leave the country to dodge arrest, the Rab director added.
Al Moin said Gunobi admitted that he held several secret meetings with others concerned to draw up plans to propagate extremist ideology and turn Bangladesh into an extremist state.
Gunobi told Rab that he studied up to Class-V before enrolling in a madrasa. He completed Taisir Daora Hadith from Jamia Rahmania Arabia, Mohammadpur in the capital in 2008.
He then took up teaching as a profession and worked for various madrasas in Dhaka, Cumilla, Noakhali, Khagrachhari, Bandarban and Cox's Bazar as a teacher.
Gunobi started delivering religious sermons in Waz Mehfils in 2010. He began promoting extremism in his speeches since 2014, said Rab.
Law enforcers were in the process of filing a case over Gunobi's arrest.