by Tarek Mahmud
New Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (New JMB) has adopted a new strategy of setting up its hideouts in Hindu-populated neighbourhoods across Bangladesh aiming to deceive law enforcement. This trend was detected after several New JMB hideouts were found this month in Chittagong’s Sitakunda, Sylhet and Moulvibazar areas. According to police, New JMB members Kamal and his wife Arjina, who were arrested alive from Sitakunda, confessed that the top leaders of the militant outfit were moving into secret hideouts set up in areas where Hindu communities lived. The group’s high command has instructed the militants at each hideout that they must conduct as much damage as possible by suicide attacks if busted, they told police. Investigators of Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC) also confirmed this. The militants were also setting up their dens in the outskirts where the public are not very aware, they said. CTTC sources said the terrorist group is doing this to avoid suspicion.
CTTC Additional Deputy Commissioner Abdul Mannan said: “Key New JMB leaders have been renting houses in Hindu neighbourhoods in border areas to avoid suspicion.” An inspector of CTTC, seeking anonymity, said as part of its new strategy, New JMB has decided that its militants will destroy their dens with explosives when detected by law enforcers. “The group has been constantly shifting and relocating to different regions in the wake of frequent raids in the capital and elsewhere in recent months,” the inspector said. The last two New JMB hideouts that were found in Borohat and Nasirpur areas in Moulvibazar on Wednesday, and the den in Shibbari, Sylhet where the army carried out an 111-hour long operation, all fit this description. There are sizeable Hindu communities in both Borohat and Nasirpur. Atia Mahal, the building in Sylhet’s Shibbari where a den was busted after a five-day-long joint forces drive, also housed many Hindu families. Of the 28 families there, 20 are from the Hindu community, said Ustar Mia, the owner of the building. Earlier this month, the CTTC found two hideouts in Sitakunda’sNamarbazar and Premtola areas in which many Hindu community people were also living, said Chittagong district’s Superintendent of Police Nur-e-Alam Mina. Chittagong Range Deputy Inspector General Mohammad Shafiqul Islam said: “This new strategy may deceive the law enforcement agencies due to our manpower shortage but they cannot deceive the people.” In most cases, police found the militant dens with the assistance of local people, he said. Sylhet Range DIG Kamrul Ahsan suggested that landlords should verify their tenants’ identities with the help of police. Bangladesh Police DIG (Media and Planning) Shahidur Rahman said: “Police units are using more intelligence and detective work to catch militants who are hiding in different remote places.” courtesy Dhaka Tribune.