The banned militant outfit Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is trying to extend its tentacles across the country.
The JMB's so-called global chief Salehuddin Saleh, who is now living in India, has also been planning to merge the operations of the proscribed organisation with those of two other banned outfits, the Ansarullah Bangla Team and Neo-JMB.
Saleh has talked to several leaders of the Ansarullah Bangla Team and Neo-JMB in recent years, and also tried to deepen the JMB's footprints and activities across the country.
Officials at the Special Action Group of Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit disclosed this information to The Business Standard.
Wishing anonymity, an additional deputy commissioner of the Special Action Group said, "Salehuddin also collected huge donations from a relative of former JMB leader Shaykh Abdur Rahman. The relative is now living in Saudi Arabia.
"The person, named Abdur Rakib, is the husband of executed JMB leader Shaykh Abdur Rahman's niece and works at Madinah University. He used to send money to the JMB's Bangladesh Ameer Abu Raihan and they were planning to set up several camps in Chattogram Hill Tract areas."
The officer also claimed that the outlaws could not execute their plan thanks to the counter terrorism unit's strong surveillance over the JMB and Neo-JMB members.
He, however, warned that Jamaat-ul Mujahideen operatives have been trying to regroup in Bangladesh and that the outfit has many followers in the north-western parts of the country, like Kurigram, Jamalpur, Chapainawabganj, Mymensingh and Bogura.
"We are also keeping tabs on their activities in these areas," the officer added.
"The Ansarullah Bangla Team members are far different from the JMB and Neo-JMB members in terms of ideological perspective. This is another reason why the plan to merge the operations of the three entities has failed," observed another assistant commissioner of the counter terrorism unit.
Present status of JMB's Bangladesh chapter
In a special drive on November 24, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit's Special Action Group arrested the acting chief of JMB's Bangladesh chapter Abu Raihan alias Mahmud alias Abdul Hadi, and his two associates Habibur Rahman alias Chand Miah, and Razibur Rahman alias Razib Alias Sagor from the capital's Bhatara area.
The law enforcers seized 150 detonators, 20 explosive gel sticks, jihadi books, and a commando knife from their possession.
Monirul Islam, additional commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police and chief of the counter terrorism unit, said the JMB has set up training camps on leased lands in the Chattogram Hill Tracts.
At a press conference at the Dhaka Metropolitan Police media centre on Monday, he claimed that the three arrestees had undertaken militant training at these camps and were planning to carry out attacks.
In addition, said Monirul Islam, JMB men have set up a madrasa in Chattogram.
"The place is also under our surveillance. We are looking into whether any militant activities are being carried out there," he added.
With the help of local people, JMB members have taken land on lease in three districts: Chattogram, Bandarban and Cox's Bazar, according to another additional deputy commissioner of the Special Action Group who spoke to The Business Standard.
During primary interrogation, Abu Raihan informed the police that he had got involved with the JMB early in his educational career.
Rahmatullah Chowdhury, additional deputy commissioner of the Special Action Group, said the JMB has borne the educational expenses of Abu Raihan since his madrasa life.
Monirul Islam claimed Abu Raihan joined the JMB in 2010 with the help of deceased JMB leader Talha and Dr Nazrul while he was a student at Tongi Tamirul Millat Academy.
"Impressed with his loyalty to the organisation, the JMB leaders took Raihan to Cox's Bazar and made him the head of the Dawati wing (publicity wing) of the organisation in Chattogram and Cox's Bazar area. Talha gave him a bag of commando knives for training purposes," Monirul added.
In mid-2013, upon a decision of the JMB high command, Abu Raihan married the sister-in-law of militant Khokon.
The counter terrorism chief also claimed that Abu Raihan is a brother-in-law of the JMB's Salahuddin Saleh, who has been absconding since the Mymensingh Trishal prison van robbery incident.
"Saleh declared himself the global chief of the JMB from India after the incident. In 2017, Khorshed Alam was the chief of JMB Bangladesh chapter. Following his death, Abu Raihan was made the new chief of the organisation," Monirul said.
Monirul Islam also stated that another arrestee, Habibur Rahman, was in-charge of the JMB's Esaba (finance) group and was involved in robberies as a way of raising funds for the banned militant outfit.
"He was also arrested earlier on March 29, 2018 while he was engaged in robbery at a residence in the capital's Dakkhin Khan area. After his release from prison, he again linked up with militant activities," said Monirul Islam.
Meanwhile, a Dhaka Court on Monday placed the three arrested JMB members on a three -day remand each.