People from the Middle East frequently visited alleged New JMB spiritual leader Maulana Abul Kashem and provided him with financial support.
Kashem met them, who were mostly involved in militant activities, at different madrasas in Dinajpur, Rajshahi and Dhaka, reports Bangla Tribune quoting a source of the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit.
However, the spiritual leader went into hiding after the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1, 2016.
Known as Boro Hujur among the supporters, Maulana Kashem, who also headed a faction of the original Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, was arrested from Dhaka’s Shonapara area on Thursday night and placed on remand the following day.
Stating that Kashem wrote motivational books for the militants, an investigating official of the CTTC unit said: “He has started disclosing information. Kashem informed us that he had Arabic-based education and is not very fluent in English.
“He was trying to learn English as he had to meet different types of people from the Middle East.”
Counter-terrorism chief Monirul Islam said: “Kashem met New JMB leader Tamim Chowdhury in 2013. We learnt about him [Kashem] when some international intelligence agencies informed us about Tamim in 2014. But they did not gave the name of the Boro Hujur, rather said the person was a madrasa principal.
“We became sure about his identity in 2015.”
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Sources said that ATM Tajuddin introduced Tamim to old JMB’s top leader Abdus Samad alias Mamu alias Arif, and later Arif took Tamim to Maulana Kashem.
Following that meeting, Samad and Tamim met with Maulana Kashem several times.
Maulana Kashem was the one who had asked all the New JMB members to obey Tamim Chowdhury, investigators said.
Wishing anonymity, the counter-terrorism official told Bangla Tribune: “Tamim used to call Abul Kashem a ‘Shayakh,’ but the other members addressed him as Boro Hujur.”
He had given permission for the Gulshan attack.
“Boro Hujur used to write a lot of jihadi books under several pseudonyms. Tamim, Marjan, Hatkata Mahfuz, northern region commander Rajib Gandhi and a lot of people were devoted to him.”
The official that said they were trying to find out the names of others who had been acquainted with Maulana Kashem.
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CTTC source said that some old JMB members had joined the new faction. Basically, the militant group – declared outlawed in 2005 – had split because of differences over leadership and opinion regarding waging jihad.
“[Ansarullah Bangla Team’s spiritual leader] Jasim Uddin Rahmani’s group thought that they should take time to wage jihad but another group insisted that it was the perfect time.
“Militants from different factions came together to form the New JMB and started conducting attacks across the country,” a senior counter-terrorism official said seeking anonymity.
The official said: “Abul Kashem used to preach that it was the perfect time to wage an armed jihad.”