DMP’s Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit and police’s elite force Rapid Action Battalion are making contradictory statements over militant leader Sarwar Jahan’s position in New JMB.
RAB on October 21 claimed that Sarwar alias Abdur Rahman, who died on October 8, was the ameer and key financier of New JMB, a deadly outfit responsible for a series of targeted killings including the Holey Artisan Bakery gun attack on July 1.
But CTTC unit chief Monirul Islam yesterday rubbished the claim and suggested that he was a third-tier leader of the outfit.
In April, international terrorist group Islamic State published an article by the chief of its Bangladesh operations on its Dabiq magazine and identified him as Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif. But the magazine did not publish his photo.
After the Gulshan attack, police primarily suspected Tamim as the New JMB chief. But IS magazine Rumiyah recently identified Tamim as its head of military and covert operations Abu Dujanah al-Bengali.
Sarwar sustained injuries after jumping off a five-storey building in Ashulia where RAB conducted a raid to arrest him on October 8. He died at a Savar hospital the same day while undergoing treatment.
Monirul yesterday told reporters that Sarwar was a lower rank militant after the “deputies” of Tamim Chowdhury.
“Gulshan attack mastermind Tamim Chowdhury, as a leader, maintained communication with the leaders immediately after him. He rarely met Abdur Rahman as he was a third-tier leader. They occasionally met during meetings,” he claimed.
On October 21, RAB chief Benazir Ahmed said that they had found a document at Sarwar’s Ashulia house dated July 21, 2015 which mentions his induction as the ameer of the outfit. Another seized document was signed by Abu Dujanah and Hanif. After getting appointment as the New JMB chief, Sarwar sent nine letters to different people and received 10 – all under the name of Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif.
He also said that Tamim had communication with Sarwar over a special messaging application before he had been killed in a raid by the CTTC unit in Narayanganj on August 27.
Asked about it, Monirul said that they had no idea about such communication after they had reached the spot around 6:15am. Members of other agencies or units could have taken position there the previous night.
“We have got evidence in Tamim’s flat about his communicating with Tanvir Qadri [committed suicide during Azimpur raid] and Maj Jahid [killed at Rupnagar] before he was killed,” Monirul added.
About Sarwar’s leadership in New JMB, the CTTC chief said that they had got his name during their investigation as a lower rank leader.
In response to the question about the chief of New JMB, he said: “It was not possible to arrest those who are now leading the group. Some of the leaders were earlier involved with the main JMB.
“We have information that a dispute has emerged among the leaders of New JMB since some main JMB members did not get any important position in the outfit.”
Monirul claimed that the New JMB still had 22 members who are absconding. “There is no specific list of how many leaders they have.”
So far, the law enforcers have killed 43 New JMB leaders and members, two committed suicide while Sarwar succumbed to injuries.
Since September last year, the Islamic State has taken credit for 26 attacks killing 45 people including non-Muslim and non-Sunni preachers, foreigners and law enforcers. However, the law enforcers have always denied the existence of IS in Bangladesh, and claim that these attacks were carried out by New JMB.
The CTTC unit recently said that at least four out of 12 of its mid-level leaders of New JMB had sneaked into India while others remain out of their radar. They are Sohel Mahfuz alias Hatkata Mahfuz, Ripon, Khalid and so-called “big brother” Junayed Hasan Khan.
The others who still remain somewhere in Bangladesh include Iqbal, Manik, Mamun, Azadul Kabiraz, Badal and female wing leader Jebunnahar Shila. Investigators say they are recruiting fresh members for the group.
Apart from these 12 leaders, the investigators are looking for three top-tier leaders – Gulshan attack coordinator Nurul Islam Marjan, IT wing in-charge Basharuzzaman alias Abul Bashar alias Chocolate and trainer Jahangir alias Rajib Gandhi.