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New JMB resorts to 'single attack' tactics

  • Published at 05:12 pm August 14th, 2020
Representational photo: Bigstock

The outfit readies a single operative to carry out an attack, scrapping its previous tactics of attacking in a body

New JMB, an offshoot of banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), has resorted to "single attack" tactics in Bangladesh.

The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of police came to know about the new approach of the outfit after arresting five suspected New JMB members from Sylhet on August 11, reports Bangla Tribune.

The outfit believes that if any of its operatives are apprehended carrying out such attacks, law enforcement agencies will not be able to nab other members of the organization. 

The outfit readies a single operative to carry out an attack, scrapping its previous tactics of attacking in a body, the CTTC said.

The operative concerned is trained to make a bomb following a "manual" which is sent online, it said.

Earlier, the militants organized themselves with "cut out," "sleeper cell," or "wolf pack" tactics which consisted of four to six members.

CTTC chief and Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Additional Commissioner Monirul Islam said: "Militants always organize themselves by resorting to new tactics and thus attempt to carry out attacks. But at the moment, New JMB has no capacity to unleash strong attacks. They were very capable in unleashing attacks in 2004 or 2005, and the manifestation of some of their capabilities lasted till 2017. But, by arresting its top leaders and conducting drives, the outfit has now been crushed in a way that it will not be able to carry out any major attacks.

"Still there are elements of extremism in the society. If we or the common people become indifferent, militants will rise again. For this, we have to be very watchful," he added.

CTTC sources said militants planned to unleash attacks in Bangladesh during the last Eid-ul-Azha at the call of international militant organizations. 

A shopping mall in Dhaka's Gulshan area was their target and this is why Police Headquarters issued a warning saying that militants could carry out attacks during Eid across the country, including the capital.

As security was tightened in the country, the militants did not get a chance to carry out any major attacks, the sources said.

However, on July 24, a bomb exploded in Dhaka's Paltan area and a bomb-like object was recovered from the same area the next day.

A bomb was also thrown at the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal (R) in Sylhet though it did not explode. Another incident of a bomb explosion took place in Naogaon at the end of July. 

CTTC officials said the New JMB designed such attacks centring the Eid festival. 

On August 11, the CTTC arrested five suspected members of the outfit on allegations of their involvement in such attacks. 

All of the arrested were members of the outfit's military wing.

Among them, Sheikh Sultan Mohammad Naimuzzaman, was in a responsible position in the military wing, the CTTC officials said.

Naimuzzaman, a graduate of Political Science from Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) in Sylhet, was a former activist of Islami Chhatra Shibir, student wing of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, they added.

'Single attack’ tactics

After interrogation, the arrested said the outfit is now planning to carry out a single attack by only one operative, CTTC sources said.

Naimuzzaman selected the operatives (recruited online) who were interested in working in the military wing and carrying out attacks directly. Later, each of the selected members was sent a manual to make bombs.

CTTC officials said Jamal Uddin, a militant and former student of Khulna University, prepared the manual.

He had been arrested soon after a drive conducted in a hideout of militants in Narayanganj in September last year.

CTTC Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Saiful Islam said: "Naimuzzaman would send the manual to operatives of the outfit's military wing. Those who could make bombs following the manual, were ordered to carry out attacks. When operatives failed to make strong bombs as per the manual, Naimuzzaman rented a house in Sylhet to provide a three-month training." 

According to CTTC sources, Naimuzzaman trained the youth online who carried out the attack in Paltan and the youth is under surveillance now.

He also trained SUST student Sanaul Islam Sadik, who was also arrested along with Naimuzzaman. 

Sources said Sadik himself made a bomb and went to the shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal (R) on July 23 to carry out an attack.

Seeing the police, he did not enter the shrine, but threw it from outside. However, the bomb did not explode.

On July 31, militants carried out a bomb attack on a Hindu temple in Sapahar upazila of Naogaon and international militant organization Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.

However, during interrogation, Naimuzzaman said he planned the attack in Naogaon and one of the operatives in the district made the bomb as per the manual’s instruction.

CTTC officials said Naimuzzaman had a direct link with the outfit's incumbent Ameer, Abu Mohammad Al Bangali, and he would inform the ameer soon after the attacks.

Abu Mohammad informed the IS in Syria about the incidents and asked them to claim responsibility for it.

Officials said Naimuzzaman never met the outfit's ameer.

Police officials believe Abu Mohammad is trying to organize the outfit from abroad. 

CTTC Senior Assistant Commissioner Ohiduzzaman Noor said: "We are interrogating the five militants who have been placed on a seven-day remand. We have obtained vital information from them and are trying to apprehend their associates based on the information."

Nur Khan Liton, human rights activist and former executive director of Ain o Salish Kendra, said: "It is a new concern for us as it will now be difficult to understand who will make the bomb getting involved in a militant outfit sitting at home before the incident takes place. 

"Now the matter requires extensive surveillance. The issue of extremism cannot be taken lightly in any way. At the same time, it is necessary to monitor and ensure control in the market so that chemicals for making bombs are not readily available."