Bangladesh Police Arrest 3 Men Suspected of Planning Drone Attacks

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
Bangladesh Police Arrest 3 Men Suspected of Planning Drone Attacks Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime officers stand with three suspected Neo-JMB militants arrested in Dhaka, Aug. 11, 2021.

Bangladesh counter-terror police said they stopped a planned drone attack on government installations with the arrest on Wednesday of three suspected Neo-JMB militants, two of whom were bomb-makers.

Security analysts said it could be easy to improvise drones and use them for attacks, but this was the first time they had heard from police about militants allegedly planning such strikes.

Md. Asaduzzaman, chief of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the Bangladeshi police, identified the suspects as Md Zahid Hasan (alias Raju, Ismail Hasan and Forkan), Saiful Islam Maruf (alias Basira), and Rumman Hossain Fahad (alias Abdullah). Neo-JMB has been blamed for carrying out an overnight siege and massacre at the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka five years ago – the country’s worst ever terrorist attack.

“All of them belonged to the Neo-JMB. Zahid is chief trainer of the military wing of Neo-JMB and has a graduate degree in chemistry from Jahangirnagar University,” Asaduzzaman said.

Zahid allegedly used his knowledge of chemistry to make grenades, bombs and “innovative” improvised explosive devices, the police leader said.

“In his latest move, he [Zahid] planned to make drones. Attaching explosives with the drones, he planned to carry out attacks on some installations,” Asaduzzaman said without specifying the militants’ targets.

He also said Zahid confessed to being involved in planting a bomb on May 16 at a police booth in Narayanganj.

Asaduzzaman said police filed a case against the suspects under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Md. Faruk Hossain, Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman, told BenarNews the three suspects were produced in court on Wednesday afternoon and remanded to police custody for four days.

Since July, police arrested other Neo-JMB suspects. On July 11, police arrested a Neo-JMB military wing suspect with explosives. On Aug. 3, the CTTC announced the arrest of two Neo-JMB suspects, including a bomb maker.

Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, a security analyst and retired air commodore, said local militants have not attempted such drone attacks.

“It is very much possible to attach explosives to drones and cause detonation in a specific place. The Islamic State militants in the Middle East used drones to carry out such drone attacks,” he told BenarNews.

“But in Bangladesh, to date we have not seen any attempt by the militants to carry out attacks using drones. I would say the militants’ attempt to carry out attacks with drones is a new dimension,” Choudhury said, adding drones are easy to get in Bangladesh.

“Making or improvising drones has almost become a cottage industry. The students and even a low-level technician can make a drone or increase its weight-carrying capacity,” he said.

Law targets drones

Lt. Col. Abdullah Ibn Zayed, director of Inter-Services Public Relations and spokesman for the defense ministry, said the government has a strict policy on the import and use of drones.

“According to the new policy, no one can fly drones without the permission of the civil aviation authority. Even importers must explain the purposes of importing drones,” he told BenarNews.

He was referring to a 2020 law banning the use of drones for commercial purposes without permission from the government. However, many people imported drones before that draft law was approved, analysts said.

A security analyst, retired Maj. Gen. Abdur Rashid, said the alleged militants’ intention was to create fear among the country’s citizens.

“The matter of concern is that the militants are innovative, and they can improvise the drones and enhance their capacity. This is easy for any educated militant to improvise a drone for carrying out attacks on any government installations,” Rashid told BenarNews.

 “The militants’ intention is to create panic among people, and draw the attention of the authorities. Even a small drone attack on government installations would create huge panic in the country.”


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