Bangladesh Arrests 8 Suspected JMB Militants

By Jesmin Papri
150728-BD-coffin-620 Members of Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion carry the coffin of Siddiqul Islam Bangla Bhai, deputy leader of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, in the town of Bogra following his execution, March 30, 2007.

Bangladeshi police Tuesday arrested eight alleged members of the outlawed militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) during a pre-dawn raid on the outskirts of Dhaka.

Acting JMB leader Abu Talha Mohammad Fahim (also known as Pakhi) was among the suspects taken into custody after the operation in the suburb of Uttara, police said.

The suspects were planning to attack several key installations in the Bangladeshi capital and surrounding areas, as well as assassinate some important people, police alleged during a remand hearing that took place later in the day. Police said they also seized jihadist books and leaflets during the raid, which resulted from a tip.

Police asked Dhaka Metropolitan Court Magistrate Atiqur Rahman to allow them to hold the suspects for 10 days in order to question them, but Rahman only granted them a three-day remand.

“Pakhi is the son of the JMB emir, Maulana Sayedur Rahman, who has been in custody since 2005,” Dhaka Metropolitan Police Joint Commissioner (Detective Branch) Monirul Islam told reporters, adding, “he’s now heading the JMB in absence of his father.”

The eights suspects also were planning to free Rahman and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) chief Mufti Jashimuddin Rahmani from jail, Islam said.

ABT is an Islamist group suspected of having murdered three secular bloggers in separate attacks in Bangladesh this year.

As for the JMB, the group first made headlines in Bangladesh 10 years ago when it carried out bombings in 62 of the country’s 64 districts. In 2005, JMB also murdered two judges in Barguna, a district in southern Bangladesh.

Two years later, seven suspected JMB members, including JMB chief Sheikh Abdur Rahman, were hanged for the judges’ murders.

On Tuesday, reporters were not allowed to talk to the suspects when they were paraded before the press at Dhaka Metropolitan Police headquarters – which has become standard police procedure in terrorism cases.

A global phenomenon

According to Islam, it is not possible to wipe out the militant threat completely. But “things are under control because of our prompt action and constant vigilance,” he added.

Meanwhile, experts agree that extremism is now a global phenomenon, and it is especially hard to wish away militancy from Bangladesh.

“But thankfully things here are not as bad as in other countries like Iraq and Syria,” Ziaur Rahman, a professor of criminology at Dhaka University, told BenarNews.

He also praised the police and other law enforcement agencies for trying to contain the spread of militancy in the country.

“Frankly, there is not enough research on extremism in Bangladesh and that’s why we have to depend largely on police reports and their statements,” he added.


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