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From star student to militant leader

  • Published at 09:14 am July 9th, 2017
From star student to militant leader
From class 1 to class 5, Hasan had always been the top student in his class. No one was surprised when he got the primary scholarship. Despite coming from a village madrasa, he made it to a merit list of 10 students on the Pabna Zila School's admission test. Fast forward 20 years and this promising boy is now a top terrorist plotting one of the deadliest terror attacks in Bangladesh. [caption id="attachment_73619" align="alignright" width="270"]Suspected top leader of New JMB, Abdus Sabur alias Hatkata Mahfuz was escorted to Dhaka Detective Branch office in Minto Road on Saturday Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune Suspected top leader of New JMB, Abdus Sabur alias Hatkata Mahfuz was escorted to Dhaka Detective Branch office in Minto Road on Saturday Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune[/caption] Sohel Mahfuz alias 'Haatkata' Mahfuz, who was captured by the police on July 8 in Chapainawabganj, is known to not only Bangladeshi but also Indian authorities as a top terrorist capable of terrible misdeeds. Law enforcement from both sides are witness to his cunning and a rich repertoire of skills which helped him evade arrest for almost two decades.
Also Read- Hatkata Mahfuz – a militant with cross-border credentials
Mahfuz, an explosives and covert communications expert, was one of the oldest members of the terrorist group Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and quickly rose through its ranks during its heydays. To the residents of Sadipur Union's Kablipara village however, he is Abdur Sobur Khan alias Hasan, the fourth of the 10 children of a poor farmer, Rezaul Karim alias Rajem Sheikh. Hasan's sister Rahima Begum told the Dhaka Tribune that her brother Hasan was an extremely talented student when he was younger. “He got scholarship in class 5. He paid for his own tuition. He would cross the Padma river every day to go to school in Pabna,” she recalled. Law enforcement says in his student days Hasan became involved with Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami.
Also Read- Hatkata Mahfuz placed on 7-day remand
After a rift with the JMB leadership here, Mahfuz moved to India in 2006 where he built up an organisation by himself and trained radicalised youths in bomb-making and weapons. He was known there as Nasirullah and has a Rs10 lakh bounty on his head. In 2014, he returned to the country and joined the New JMB, the group that is responsible for the Gulshan cafe attack and pledges allegiance to Islamic State. There, he planned the Gulshan attack with its leaders Tamim Chowdhury and his relative Nurul Islam Marjan. Hasan's youngest brother, Hafizur Rahman Sakib, 25, is also a terrorist like his elder brother, and was in regular contact with Mahfuz. Sakib graduated from Sadipur's Alia Madrasa in 2015. He was captured by the RAB and police in a raid on his house in lieu of his connection to terrorism. He is currently serving his sentence in Dhaka Central Jail. [caption id="attachment_73597" align="aligncenter" width="800"]File photo of Abdus Sabur alias Hatkata Mahfuz Dhaka Tribune File photo of Abdus Sabur alias Hatkata Mahfuz Dhaka Tribune[/caption] Hasan's three other brothers are living normal lives. His eldest brother, Nazrul Islam, runs a tea shack in the area. Monirul Islam, another of his brothers, is working at a medicine firm, and the other brother, Helal is a carpenter in Comilla. Rahima Begum first found out about Mahfuz's terrorist links in 2005, when RAB came to her house looking for her brother. He was in class 10 then. Mahfuz left the house after the raid. He kept in touch through phone after that, but 2008 was the last time when he visited home, with his wife. He has not kept in touch with his family since, according to Rahima Begum. Aftab Hossain, ward councilor for Sadipur Union told the Bangla Tribune: “Hasan was a very talented student since childhood. But he has not been seen around here in the last 8-10 years.” On Friday night, at around 3 am, government forces captured Mahfuz alias Hasan, and four other members of the new JMB from Shibganj in Chapainababganj. This story was originally published in Bangla Tribune
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