Police’s elite force Rapid Action Battalion yesterday claimed that militant group New JMB’s key financier Abdur Rahman, who died after jumping off a five-storey building in Ashulia on October 8, was the outfit’s chief, Abdullah Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif.
Abdur Rahman’s real name is Sarwar Jahan, a Qawmi madrasa graduate hailing from Bholahat Upazila in Chapainawabganj. He had been involved with banned Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh since its formation in 1998 and got arrested first in 2003 for attacking on the police as a close aide of JMB second-in-command Bangla Bhai.
Son of Abdul Mannan and Saleha Khatun, Sarwar stayed in jail for nine months. Out on bail from jail, he went into hiding after one and a half months, RAB Director General Benazir Ahmed told reporters at the forcer’s new media centre at Karwan Bazar.
Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif is the name of the head of Islamic State’s Bangladesh wing, as per the Syria and Iraq-based outfit’s Dabiq magazine. Its military commander Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury alias Abu Dujanah was killed in a raid by DMP’s counter-terrorism unit in Narayanganj on August 27.
Since September last year, the IS has taken credit for 26 attacks including the deadly Holey Artisan Bakery attack. However, the law enforcers have always denied the existence of IS in Bangladesh, and claim that these attacks were carried out by a new wing of the JMB.
Regarding the New JMB chief, the RAB DG 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 more – all under the name of Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif. Benazir claimed that Sarwar used to take the operational decisions besides keeping a database of all expenses.
Police primarily suspected Tamim as the New JMB chief. But an IS magazine recently identified Tamim as the military and operations head of the outfit.
Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit’s Additional Deputy Commissioner Sanowar Hossain said that they were looking for Hanif. Earlier he said that Hanif was a powerless leader who just issues religious statements.
RAB yesterday arrested two people who the elite force claims were close associates of Sarwar.
Has New JMB lost strength?
The RAB DG yesterday claimed that after taking charge, Sarwar alias Hanif in a statement mentioned that the outfit had 300 members and nine AK22 rifles. In another statement, he later mentioned that they had lost a number of members, and the outfit had only 63 full-time members and five AK22 rifles.
In the third statement prepared on October 6, Sarwar said that they had only 33 members and an AK22 rifle. The RAB chief said that four including Hanif were top leaders of New JMB while the others were mid-level leaders and members.
Eleven more members of the outfit were killed in three separate drives in Gazipur and Tangail on October 8. Abdur Rahman alias Sarwar died the same day.
“So the group now has 21 members including three top leaders. Now it is our duty to stop these 21 by a close coordination of all law enforcement agencies,” he added.
Asked about the identities of the New JMB members, Benazir said that they had got some organisational names.
He also claimed that New JMB had lost its organisational strength following crackdown by different law enforcement agencies.
Most financiers are locals
The RAB chief yesterday said that a little portion of the outfit’s funds had come from abroad through illegal Hundi traders but the key financier remains in Bangladesh.
The outfit has got big amount of finance from Dr Rokon Uddin, Zahidul Islam alias Maj Murad and Tanvir Qadri. Of them, Zahid and Tanvir have been killed in raids. The outfit also collects money from its members where the lowest monthly fee is Tk100.
From the fund, Sarwar used to spend the money for monthly expenses of the members and the operations, the RAB DG said.
Communication between Tamim and Sarwar
During the press conference, Benazir said that after coming to Bangladesh, Canadian citizen Tamim had tried to form a group named Junud Al Tawhid. As he met Sarwar, they agreed to work together and planned to form a new platform with members of different militant groups including the main JMB.
Asked if they had found any direct involvement of New JMB with the IS group, the RAB DG replied in the negative. “Some people living abroad may have connection with IS and they are working as media between IS and New JMB,” he said, adding that they had found some evidence of communication between Sarwar and Tamim.