A police special task force in Kolkata arrested a leader of the banned Islamic outfit Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a police official told reporters on Monday.
Suspect Md Ejaz Ahmad, 30, was arrested in India’s Bihar province Monday morning, task force joint commissioner Shuvankar Sinha Sarker told reporters.
Ejaz had been acting as JMB chief in India since the 2018 arrest of another militant blamed for a 2014 blast that killed two suspected terrorists in Khagragarh, India.
“He is the main recruiter of the Bangladeshi organization working in this country,” Shuvangkar said, referring to Ejaz.
Militants linked with JMB’s offshoot, the Neo-JMB, plotted the July 2016 overnight attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery that killed 29 people, including 17 foreigners, in Dhaka, Bangladeshi authorities said.
Police seized a satellite phone, banned documents, a laptop and a circuit board belonging to Ejaz, the commissioner said, adding that Ejaz remains in police custody.
A chemical engineer who is a West Bengal resident, Ejaz was constantly in contact with Bangladeshi militants during the past few years and is wanted in many JMB-related cases, Shuvangkar said.
Ejaz took over his role with JMB after the Indian National Investigation Agency arrested Kauser (alias Boma Mizan) on Aug. 6, 2018, for his alleged involvement in the Khagragarh blast.
Investigators allege Ejaz was recruiting JMB members from an illegal madrassa along the Bangladesh border. Members of the task force have arrested eight suspected militants in 2019.
Like its neighbor Bangladesh, the Indian government banned JMB, which was established in 1998. It also outlawed similar organizations Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen India and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Hindustan under the nation’s Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
In May, the Indian Home Ministry issued a statement that JMB and its offshoots “have committed and promoted acts of terrorism and have been engaged in radicalization and recruitment of youth(s) for terrorist activists in India.”
“Investigations have also revealed JMB’s plan of making permanent bases within 10 km (6.2 miles) along the Indo-Bangladesh border in several districts of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura and its plan to spread its network in South India with an overarching motive to establish a caliphate in the Indian subcontinent,” it said.
Meanwhile, a retired intelligence officer warned on Monday that JMB is spreading throughout India.
“The terror outfits are operating in separate small groups, Nirmal Das told BenarNews. “They are scattered across cities in India. The truth is being revealed following their arrests.”