Detectives have arrested four members of banned Islamist outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) including the wife of Sajid, the prime suspect of Bardhaman blast in West Bengal of India.
The arrestees are Sajid’s wife Fatema Begum, and Abdul Kazi, Md Ishrat Ali Sheikh and Md Shawkat Sarder. Fatema is the chief of JMB’s newly-formed women wing, Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (media) of the DMP, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday. The three others are assistants of Sajid, he added.
They were arrested around 10am of Saturday from Sadarghat area of the capital. Jihadi books, explosives and bomb-making materials were recovered from their possessions.
Masud said after the Bardhaman blast incident, Sajid’s friends and trusted associates including Fatema came to Bangladesh to avoid arrest. Later members of the Lawful Interception Centre (LIC) and the Detective Branch (DB) of Police arrested them in a joint drive.
Monirul Islam, joint commissioner of the DB, said: “Fatema is a training coordinator of the JMB. She was with Sajid during the Bardhaman blast of October 2.”
During primary interrogation, Fatema said they were staying near the spot where the blast had taken place. She also gave important information on JMB’s top and important leaders who were involved in blasts at different times.
Monirul said: “Fatema used to train JMB’s female members at Shimulia Madrasa in West Bengal which is now closed. The JMB has created a militant network there. Sajid was the chief of political wing of the network. Another Bangladeshi is the chief of militant wing of the network.”
Fatema confessed that she had trained at least 20 women, of who five were Bangladeshis, the official added. She gave training on using small arms and physical fitness. For practice, they used air guns. There were around 50-55 female students in the madrasa.
The trainings were conducted in three madrasas, of which two others are for male.
Fatema’s name was reportedly mentioned by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) during their recent meeting with Dhaka’s officials.
Monirul said earlier the NIA had given them some information about the JMB. “The group collects members from poor and middle-income families and convinces them to join the JMB by offering rehabilitation.”
Fatema stayed in Jharkhand for few days and then moved to Bashirhat of India. After Sajid’s arrest, she came to Satkhira with the help of some brokers. “But during interrogation Fatema said she came to Bangladesh through Hili border.”
Detectives say the JMB members were making and storing explosives in the madrasa to launch attacks in Bangladesh and India. They were waiting for order of their high-command. “Usually they inform the members about any operation only two or three days before execution,” Monirul said.
The three other JMB militants joined the group in 2004-2005. In 2005, they participated in the Brac Bank robbery in Gopalganj. During that time, Sajid and Abdun Nur were arrested. They were freed on bail in 2011 and again got involved with destructive activities of the JMB.
Police claim that the three detainees had communication with Sajid and Nur until their arrest.
Meanwhile, Kotwali police produced the four JMB members before the court of Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Maruf Hossain yesterday noon seeking 20-day remand in two cases filed under Anti-Terrorism Act and Explosives Substance Act.
After a hearing, the judge granted police 11 days to grill them.