To materialise their dream of establishing a Shariah-based state in Bangladesh, the so-called New JMB highups wanted to strengthen the organisation by unifying other militant groups under a single umbrella.
Efforts taken to this end separately by New JMB ameer Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif and operations chief Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury did not work, but some members of the local militant outfits did join the new group, according to police's elite force Rapid Action Battalion.
After coming to Bangladesh in 2013, Canadian citizen Tamim Chowdhury, who co-ordinated the July 1 Dhaka attack, tried to form a platform of extremists named Junud At-Tawheed. At one point, he met Hanif and they agreed to work together, RAB claims.
Later Hanif planned to float a new platform with members of the banned militant outfits including the main Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Ansarullah Bangla Team (now Ansar Al Islam), Hizb ut-Tahrir and HujiB as their aim is the same. Hanif also engaged his associates to work on the matter.
But they did not succeed, RAB says, because they all have different ideologies and their activities are also different.
The elite force was confirmed about the developments from documents seized at Hanif's house in Ashulia area of Savar after the October 8 raid.
New militant outfit Junud at-Tawheed Wal Khilafah busted
Hanif, known as Abdur Rahman and Sarwar Jahan, died at a hospital on that day. He was injured after jumping off a five-storey building to evade arrest and held by the RAB personnel. RAB claims he was a key financier of the New JMB which got financial support from local and foreign sources.
[caption id="attachment_23619" align="alignleft" width="300"] RAB claims that Abdur Rahman, who died on October 8, was the ameer of terrorist group New JMB and went by the name Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif
On the other hand, Tamim alias Abu Dujanah – previously thought to be the chief of New JMB – and two of his associates were killed in a raid by counter-terrorism members in Narayanganj on August 27.
According to detectives, the New JMB – an affiliate of Syria-based terrorist outfit Islamic State – has got a number of leaders and members of the main JMB, Huji, Hizb ut-Tahrir, and even some from Jamaat-e-Islami's radical student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir.
RAB now claims that the strength of New JMB has already waned after the death and arrest of most of its leaders and members.
Detectives earlier said that the chiefs and top leaders of JMB, Ansarullah, HujiB and Hizb ut-Tahrir at a meeting in Kashimpur jail in late 2014 had agreed to work together. Similar move was reported from Chittagong during the same time.
Such a move was made at a time when different militant groups were carrying out small scale attacks separately and in a scattered way.
Tamim Chowdhury featured in new IS publication
It was also learnt from the militants arrested in the last couple of years that they had been planning to free their leaders from jail through legal processes, and if needed, by attacking on police vans when the top leaders are taken to courts for case proceedings.
[caption id="attachment_16014" align="alignleft" width="300"] Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury
On the other hand, RAB's claim that Tamim was behind the formation of militant platform Junud Al Tawhid sheds lights on the long preparation of the jihadists for their operations in Bangladesh.
Since September last year, New JMB carried out at least 26 attacks killing 45 people and injuring around 180 others. Most of the victims were members of religious minority communities and citizens of countries fighting against the IS group in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the group lost 42 leaders and members in police crackdowns at different places; one was killed in a suicide attack on an Ahmadiyya mosque while another committed suicide to evade arrest during a raid in Azimpur area on September 10.
31 Islamic State ‘supporters’ killed in 10 months
On May 31 last year, detectives arrested IS recruiter and trainer Abdullah Al Ghalib, son of a former army major, from Baridhara and learnt that he had raised a platform of militants named Junud at-Tawheed Wal Khilafah.
Two of his associates – Fida Muntasir Saker and Faiyaz Ishmam Khan – were arrested in June last year.
Formerly a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Ghalib also served as an assistant coordinator of Ansarullah Bangla Team. Before his arrest, the militant leader trained 10-15 members, police said at that time.
Another member of IS-linked outfit arrested
Detectives recovered around 5,000 video footage of training activities from Ghalib's possession and found that the members had been trained in remote areas of the country. A video showing members of the terrorist outfit expressing allegiance to both IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and al-Qaeda’s Ayman Al Zawahiri was released in mid-October 2014.
Dhaka Tribune could not verify whether Tamim Chowdhury's Junud Al Tawhid and Ghalib's outfit were the same, and whether they had known each other.
Investigators dealing with the Gulshan Holey Artisan Bakery attack found that the five New JMB members and many others had been trained in a remote area of Gaibandha, and sent to Dhaka to launch attacks on their targets.
[caption id="attachment_23942" align="alignnone" width="870"] Top leader of militant group Junud At-Tawheed Wal Khilafah Abdullah Al Ghalib is produced before media after his arrest on May 21, 2015
During interrogation, Ghalib told detectives that he used to collect members for the IS, and also for al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), from different parts of the country through the internet.
Police hunt for Jihadi Group kingpin
Aiming at establishing Shariah law, the Bangladesh chapter of AQIS, headquartered in Pakistan, carried out 13 attacks since January 2013 in which they killed 11 people, mostly war crimes trial campaigners, secularist bloggers and publishers, teachers and LGBT rights activists.
Some other al-Qaeda supporters also tried to unite militants under a platform named Bangladesh Jihadi Group. A top leader of the group Maulana Nurullah Kashemi was arrested last year but its yet unidentified chief managed to flee the country.