4 Al Qaeda-linked militants planning to attack BGB base held

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit detained four members of banned militant outfit Ansar al Islam, linked with Al Qaeda, in a raid in the capital’s Mohammadpur area on Saturday night, officials said on Sunday.

CTTC chief Mohd Asaduzzaman said that the group had planned to attack any BGB base in Sylhet and any police station or patrol team in Dhaka, and had carried out reconnaissance missions in this regard.

The detained militants were identified as Mohd Jasimul Islam alias Jack, Mohd Abdul Mukit, Mohd Aminul Haque, and Sajib Ikhtiyar. A bag, a machete, five smartphones and two laptops were seized from them.

Of them Jasimul Islam is a first-year BBA student at the private Atish Dipankar University, and Abdul Mukit a teacher at Markazus Sunnah Al Islamia Madrasa in Habiganj. Besides, Aminul Haque was a student of Al Hidaya Islamic Institute in Sylhet and Sajib Ikhtiyar a student of Sunamganj Government College.

Most of the militant groups active in Bangladesh claim to have links with Al Qaeda, and the Ansar claims to be its branch in the subcontinent. Some of its members may have also gone to Afghanistan, police said.

Asaduzzaman said two members of the group had been reported to have fled to Afghanistan in the name of ‘Hijrat’ (migration), adding that all four detainees had also planned to flee to Afghanistan after carrying out their attacks.

The militants had reportedly formed a Telegram group called “Science Project” to communicate with each other and try to make explosives using oxygen cylinders, police said, adding that key information was found on the devices seized from them.

The detainees also confessed Ansar operative Masul Farid alias Tariq Abdullah used social networking apps, including secret chatting app Confidential Text to maintain contact. The four recently attacked a hotel in the Kotwali police station area of Sylhet at the behest of the organisation’s officials, injuring the hotel manager.

The banned militant outfit has targeted BGB members, as well as police at various times.