Five members of a banned Islamist extremist group were on Thursday nabbed in Bangladesh as they were regrouping in a bid to free their arrested leaders, a day after the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of the outfit’s chief.
The five were members of Harkatul Jihad al Islami (HuJI) and were arrested in separate operations, police said.
The elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) found bomb-making materials from their three-storey hideout in Chittagong. Three militants were arrested in the operation carried out on the lead provided by two militants arrested from another area in the southern port city.
“The five arrested in separate incidents are HuJI members,” RAB media wing director Mufti Mahmud Khan told reporters. “They were trying to regroup after a long period of inactivity,” Khan was quoted as saying by bdnews24 online.
He said the militants were planning attacks to free their arrested leaders.
The two suspects caught earlier - Tajul Islam and Nazimuddin - had pistols in their possession, Khan said adding that seven gun magazines, 12 IEDs and bomb-making materials were found in the hideout from the three were arrested later.
“Tajul Islam is HuJI’s chief coordinator in Dhaka. His name came up after the arrest of HuJI leader Mufti Mainul Islam. Tajul has been central to their organisation attempts in Chittagong.”
“Nazimuddin has close ties to HuJI leaders Mufti Hannan and Rouf who are in prison,” he said.
Mufti Abdul Hannan is the chief of HuJI in Bangladesh and his death sentence in a terror case for attacking the British envoy in Bangladesh in 2004 that left three policemen dead was upheld yesterday by the Supreme Court.
The ruling cleared the way for Hannan’s execution and the regrouping of the militants could be a desperate attempt by the outfit to free the militant leader.
HuJI is accused of launching a series of deadly blasts targeting a Christian church, an Ahmadi Muslim mosque, and rallies of secular activists. The US several years ago designated HuJi as a foreign terrorist organisation and “specially designated global terrorist.” Its involvement is also suspected in several bomb blasts in India.
The militant hideout was seen littered with jihadi books, ball bearings, wires and knives, the report said.