12:26 AM, December 29, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:20 PM, December 29, 2016
Photo: [Female terrorists: What is so new?] An ambulance is seen carrying the injured to hospital after law enforcers carried out an anti-militant drive at Ashkona in Dhaka’s Dakkhin Khan on December 24, 2016. Photo: Palash Khan
Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan ndc, psc (Retd)
12:00 AM, December 26, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:16 AM, December 26, 2016
Musa told wife to blow herself up
But she didn’t detonate suicide vest to save her baby girl and surrendered, say interrogators; 7 grenades, 2 suicide vests with bombs found at Ashkona den
Photo: [Musa told wife to blow herself up] Police are keeping the road in front of the militant den in Ashkona closed to public a day after they raided the place. Photo: Palash Khan
Shariful Islam and Shaheen Mollah
After police cordoned off the Ashkona militant hideout early Saturday, Maynul Musa instructed his wife Trisha Moni to wear a suicide vest and blow up herself along with their four-month-old daughter instead of surrendering to law enforcers.
Trisha, however, did not carry out the instruction as her motherly love for the baby stopped her from detonating the vest.
So, she decided to surrender, according to her statement to an official of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the DMP during interrogation.
Sensing that police encircled the den, Trisha communicated with her husband using an encrypted messaging app and wanted his advice about the next course of action.
“Musa then asked his wife and all other women to wear the suicide vests and blow themselves up,” the official said.
Musa took the helm of radical group “Neo JMB” as most of its top leaders died in anti-terror operations following the July 1 Gulshan café attack. The other top leaders are either arrested or under police surveillance, officials say.
The last time Musa visited the Ashkona flat on the ground floor of a three-storey building was on Tuesday when he brought bombs and grenades there.
Two other militants who go by the name of Firoz and Selim in theorganisation also used to visit the den.
Replying to a query, the CTTC official said “Neo JMB” still has one expert bombmaker. Other bomb experts are dead or behind bars or on the run.
A police source said a militant, aged around 18, managed to escape from the flat just before the operation.
Another woman, Jebunnahar Shila, widow of Major (retd) Jahid alias Murad, surrendered along with her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter and with a 9mm pistol and six bullets during the anti-militant operation codenamed “Ripple 24”.
According to CTTC officials, Trisha has expressed remorse for being within militant circle. But Shila has not.
Also during the operation, a suspected militant named Shakira detonated her suicide vest while rushing to police with her four-year-old daughter Sabina in an apparent motive to blow herself up in the midst of policemen. She was, however, still a few steps away from the law enforcers.
Shakira was killed in the blast with part of her body badly damaged and Sabina suffered severe injuries. A police official was also wounded.
“Analysing our intelligence and information from the militants who surrendered, it seems that the woman [Shakira] could carry out suicide attacks with her daughter elsewhere [had she been alive],” CTTC unit chief Monirul Islam told reporters at Ashkona yesterday evening as a search was going on in the den.
Shakira first married Iqbal, father of Sabina. After Iqbal died from cancer, she married Suman.
Suman, a suspected militant, has been missing for over a month, the official added.
Around 7:30pm yesterday, a police team left the spot with the body of deceased militant suspect, 14-year-old Afif Kaderi, for Dhaka Medical College morgue. Morgue sources said the body reached there around 11:30pm.
Afif, son of “Neo JMB” leader Tanvir Kaderi, who committed suicide during a raid at Azimpur on September 10, got killed around Saturday afternoon during the operation.
Rejecting the call for surrender, Afif opened fire at police, and the law enforcers retaliated by firing shots and gas grenades.
Officials say the boy committed suicide or died in the police firing.
Monirul said the militants burnt Tk 12 lakh, a laptop, some mobile phones and documents. It seems that they were using the hideout as their office, he added.
During the search starting at 10:30am yesterday, bomb disposal unit of the CTTC recovered seven grenades, two suicide vests — one with six bombs and the other with four — and two unexploded bombs from the vest that Shakira detonated.
Two 9mm pistols with two live ammunition, and huge bomb-making materials were also found at the den.
Officials later defused the grenades and bombs.
Meanwhile, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia told reporter at a city programme that Musa, a listed militant, is still in Bangladesh and police are conducting drives to arrest him.
Replying to a query about the possible motive of storing the arms and ammunition at Ashkona den, the commissioner said, “We are at the primary stage of the investigation.”
But, he said, so far they know that it was the continuation of militant activities after Gulshan attack.
A case has been filed over Saturday’s incident with Dakkhin Khan Police Station under anti-terrorism act.
ZIA, MARZAN ’UNDER SURVEILLANCE’
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Major (sacked) Syed Ziaul Haque and Nurul Islam Marzan, who had played vital roles in the Gulshan attack and targeted killings, will be arrested anytime.
“They will be arrested anytime as they are always under our surveillance,” the minister said while talking to reporters after attending a programme at Shishu Academy in the capital.
According to police, Zia, alleged military wing chief of the banned militant outfit Ansar al Islam, had a hand in the targeted killings and murders of bloggers.
Marzan is said to be a top leader of “Neo JMB”.
[Rafiul Islam contributed to this report]
Are we reading too much into the involvement of women in terrorist acts in Bangladesh? This by no means is a new spectacle. The so called weaker sex has always been a part of terror ever since the phenomenon was exploited to create psychological and physical havoc on the target, be it the state or a particular segment of the population. They have been the vector of death and destruction in equal measure with their male counterpart, and perhaps more efficient at times in carrying out their tasks.
So why should we go about suggesting, as one notices being done in some sections of the media by some commentators, that what we witnessed in Ashkona on December 24, of a women blowing herself up with a suicide vest, is a new development. It may be so in Bangladesh, but so is the character of terrorism that we are witnessing in the country that we hadn’t witnessed heretofore. What we saw on that day was merely the enactment of similar script that has played out in many parts of the world, where Islamic extremists are perpetrating violence in the name of the scripture.
Female members in a terror outfit have not been merely couriers but, if one delves into the history of terrorism or into the re-emergence of it from the early sixties and seventies, women had led the main action as well, apart from the fact that most terrorist organisations have had a female wing to supplement the main effort. Leila Khaled, the first woman to hijack a plane and blow it up eventually, captured public imagination and so did Thenmozhi Rajaratnam, the LTTE suicide bomber who blew up Rajiv Gandhi in a suicide attack in 1991.
The “Black Widows” of Chechnya still induce fear among many Russians, being responsible for several terrorist acts, including blowing up two passenger planes in 2004 that took off from Moscow airport, bombed the Moscow metro twice, and took part in the siege of a school in Beslan, where hundreds of innocent civilians, including children, lost their lives, and bombing in March 2010 of Moscow metro, killing at least thirty five people. Their cause is the creation of an Islamist caliphate in the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region that includes Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. And all these statistics are encapsulated in various reports over several years and which have been so exquisitely described by Dr. Ali Reaz in a very recent article in the Prothom Alo.
What, however, we need to focus on is the motivation of these women, and whether there indeed is a female cadre of these extremist groups in Bangladesh. At this point in time any comment on these two matters would be at best an educated guess. Is this a one off case, are they being motivated by their husbands to act the way they did, as reports in some newspapers have portrayed? We should not rule out the possibility of involvement of women, albeit in a very nuclear form, in extremist activities. If that be the case how are these women being recruited? My views stem from the fact that the international extremist group that these elements draw inspiration from have a dedicated group of female terrorists working in various forms. Just recall the Black Widows. They are called so because they had lost their husbands, brothers or close relatives in the Chechen wars waged between the Russians and the Islamist rebels since 1994. They wanted to avenge the loss of their loved ones and were thus targeted for recruitment and training by the Chechen rebels quite easily. Can we entirely overlook the possibility of such psychological compulsion in our context? The IS recruits women in various ways but the internet is a very handy expedient for brainwashing and recruitment of female cadres.
And this brings me to the despondency expressed by some talk-show commentators who think that killing off all the terrorists in the Holey Artisan incident would have seen the end of the phenomenon. The terrorists do not work on a single-group basis. There are many cells that work without having knowledge of any other cell that might be in existence, except when it comes to the coordination at the final stages of preparing for an operation.
I firmly believe that apart from the several extremists groups that the security agencies have neutralised in the last several months, there are many sleeper cells that are likely to be activated at an opportune time from their state of suspended animation on the orders of the brain controlling this group. Neutralising one group will not neutralise the operational capabilities of the extremists as a whole. The crux of the issue is finding out the brain and the source of funding. It is a tall order. But once that is done the capabilities of the cells will be blunted both due to lack of directive and orders as well as funds. And that is what the focus of the agencies must be on.
The writer is Associate Editor, The Daily Star.
12:00 AM, December 25, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:09 PM, December 25, 2016
2 Killed in Militant Hideout: Chilling desperation
Radicalised woman refuses to surrender, blows herself up, injures baby girl; dead militant’s son fights with cops till death; 2 women surrender
Apparently her motive was to blow herself up in the midst of policemen as she detonated a suicide vest while rushing to them with her four-year-old daughter.
A few steps from the law enforcers, the suspected female militant, Shakira, died in the blast with parts of her body being damaged. The baby girl, Sabina, survived with serious injuries.
Counterterrorism officials witnessed the horrific scene while conducting a raid on a militant hideout in the capital’s Ashkona yesterday.
A 14-year-old boy, son of deceased “Neo JMB” leader Tanvir Kaderi, also got killed in the operation, codenamed Ripple 24.
Besides, two women — wife of Major (retd) Jahid, allegedly the trainer of Gulshan and Sholakia attackers, and wife of “Neo JMB” leader Maynul Musa — surrendered with two babies.
After ignoring for hours the call for surrender, Shakira walked out of the den slowly with her daughter in front of her around 12:30pm, according to a police official who took part in the raid.
“As the woman in Burqa continued to walk towards us but was not raising her hands in surrender ignoring our repeated calls, we suspected something was wrong,” said Mohibul Islam, deputy commissioner of the DMP’s Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit.
“At one point, she sped up and pulled something in her waist detonating the suicidal vest.”
Inspector Shafiq Ahmed of CTTC unit also suffered minor injuries in the explosion.
Law enforcers immediately took the baby girl to Dhaka Medical College Hospital and the injured officer to another hospital. Shakira’s body was sent to DMCH morgue around 10:00pm.
Sabina, who mentioned her parents’ names as Iqbal and Shakira, was in a serious condition as her alimentary canal sustained 10 to 12 punctures, the resident surgeon of DMCH told The Daily Star.
Details about the family could not be known immediately.
Those who surrendered said Sabina’s father could be a militant named Suman, police added.
SWAT, Bomb Disposal Unit of the CTTC and different other units were involved in the 15-hour raid in the densely populated neighbourhood. The target was a flat on the ground floor of a three-storey building of Jamal Hossain, a Bangladeshi living in Kuwait.
The 14-year-old, Afif Kaderi, whose father Tanvir committed suicide during the September 10 raid on a militant hideout in Azimpur, refused to surrender.
After Shakira’s death, Afif alias Ador alias Abir opened fire at police from inside the three-room flat.
Police fired shots and gas grenades and shots as Afif did not surrender. Officials said Afif might have been killed in police firing around 2:30pm.
Afif’s body was not recovered last night as, police say, there was still gas and explosives in the flat.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, who visited the scene, said the boy got engaged in gunfight with police and finally blasted a grenade that left him dead.
During the operation beginning at 12:30am, the two women responded to police call and came out around 9:15am.
Jebunnahar Shila, widow of Major (retd) Jahid alias Murad, surrendered with her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Trsihna, wife of Musa, too was with her daughter, aged six to seven months.
Jahid was killed in an operation in Rupnagar on September 2. A week later, law enforcers conducted another raid on Azimpur den where Shila used to live.
She, however, escaped arrest in Azimpur while Tahrim Kaderi, twin brother of Afif, was taken into custody from the house and he is now in jail.
The two women surrendered to the police along with a pistol and several bullets after law enforcers made the call using a loudspeaker, Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (Media) of DMP said.
A number of anti-militant operations have taken place since the July 1 Gulshan café attack that killed 22 people, mostly foreigners.
Over the last few months, law enforcers conducted such drives in Kalyanpur, Rupnagar, Azimpur, Savar, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Tangail, killing 26 suspected militants, including “Neo JMB” coordinator Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, thought to be one of the masterminds of the café attack.
Officials at the CTTC unit said they were hunting for Shila, Afif and Musa. A few days back, Musa was traced in Ashkona area.
They finally located the den on Friday and conducted the raid but failed to capture Musa.
Police reached the three-storey Surya Villa at 12:30am and asked the landlord’s wife and daughter about their tenants who rented the ground-floor flat in September.
Police managed to bring in Shila’s mother and brother to echo the police plea to the suspects.
Mohammad Ali Rubel, a banker who was trapped in his flat on the first-floor during the operation, said, “Police came around 12:30am and asked me about the suspected militants. But I couldn’t say as I never saw them. I requested them to ask the building owner, who lives on the second floor.”
Around 6:45am, police urged the suspects on the ground-floor flat over loudspeaker to surrender and assured them that they would not be harmed.
It went in vain when Shila’s mother first urged her daughter to surrender over the loudspeakers from outside the building.
Officials say the mother with the help of police then wore a bulletproof vest and went inside the building and made an emotional appeal to her daughter.
“I am your Ma [mother]…. Please come out. I want to see you alive”
She even went near the flat, talked to Shila through a window.
Shila held her girl near the window and the grandmother touched the baby with affection, police said.
At one stage, Shila agreed to surrender and walked out. Trishna followed her.
It was probably the first time that suspected militants surrendered to police during a drive at militant dens. The police calls for surrender went in vain in Kalyanpur, Narayanganj and Azimpur and in other places.
“A to-let sign was hanging here. A man identifying him as Mohammad Imtiaz Ahmed, an online business man, rented it on September 1. The man, his wife and their 40-day-old baby moved here two days later,” said Jonaki Russell, elder daughter of house owner Jamal Hossian.
Imtiaz had said one of his sisters would also stay in the flat occasionally. He provided a national ID card and filled up the tenant information form.
“We submitted the form and ID card to local police immediately,” Jonaki added.
A top police official told The Daily Star that the man faked the ID card to hide his identity.
Police suspect it was Musa who rented the flat but he didn’t live there regularly.
Jonaki visited the flat three to four times and saw two beds, dining table and some other furniture. “We could not suspect them as they were polite,” she added.
The family rarely came out of the flat. As Jonaki asked about it, they said they prefer to stay indoor as hijras used to disturb them, demanding money for the birth of the baby, during their stay in Uttara before moving to Ashkona.
Hijras are often found in the city extorting from families with newborns.
Jonaki saw several mattresses folded on the floor. “We use those when our relatives visit us,” she quoted the wife of Imtiaz as saying.
Rubel, a bank official, said, “I did not know anyone from the flat as the doors always remained shut. I did not see anyone.”
WHO IS MUSA?
Musa, aged around 40, had friendship with Tanvir Kaderi for long. He along with Major (retd) Jahid used to visit Tanvir’s Uttara home with their spouses and children.
Musa used to tutor Afif and Tahrim, Mathematics, English and Science.
He also used to visit Tanvir’s Pallabi home.
Tanvir moved to Pallabi from Uttara before renting the Bashundhara house from where the Gulshan café attack was coordinated, according to the confessional statement of Tahrim.
Musa used to give Tanvir “jihadi videos on Syria war”. Tahrim also said they were given copies of Dabiq, propaganda magazine of global terror body Islamic State, according to police.
“Neo JMB”, an offshoot of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), is inspired by the ideologies of Islamic State.
12:39 PM, December 29, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:07 PM, December 29, 2016
No specific threat over 31st night celebrations: DMP chief
Outdoor celebrations on New Year banned, citizens urged to remain alert
Asaduzzaman Mia Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia on Thursday, December 29, 2016, at a press briefing urges the citizens to remain alert though there is no specific security threat centering the New Year celebrations on the 31st night. Photo: Rafiul Islam
Star Online Report
Gulshan, Banani, Niketon, Baridhara residents asked to return home by 8:00pm
Gatherings on roads, flyovers won’t be allowed
None can stay at Hatirjheel after 10pm
Carrying of licensed firearms banned
Liquor shops, bars to remain shut from 6pm Saturay-5am Sunday
Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia today urged the citizens to remain alert though there is no specific security threat centering the New Year celebrations on the 31st night.
If anyone notices any suspicious activities, the DMP chief requested them to notify it to the law enforcers. Police will strongly resist any sort of lawlessness in the city, he added.
At a press briefing at the DMP media centre, the DMP Commissioner said all forms of gatherings and celebrations outdoors would be prohibited from 8:00pm December 31 to 6:00am January 1.
However, city dwellers would be encouraged to celebrate the occasion indoors as police would provide security to important establishments, including hotels and clubs based on permissions.
Around 10,000 members of law enforcing agencies will be deployed to build up several layers of security, he added.
Asking citizens not to drink and drive, the DMP chief said check posts will also be placed to stop rough driving on the eve of the New Year.
Police are keeping a close eye all over the situation and there is no reason to panic over the security issues, he said.
He further said traffic at Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, and Dhaka University areas would be controlled and no “outsiders” would be allowed in these areas during that time.
Residents of Gulshan, Banani, and Baridhara have been advised to return home by 8:00pm and those areas would be accessible only through Kamal Ata Turk Avenue in Kakoli and Amtoli intersection in Mohakhali.
Dhaka University would be under tight vigilance and students, teachers, and staff would be allowed to enter the university showing identity cards, he said.
General people are advised to use High Court-Doyel Chattar-Shaheed Minar-Jagannath Hall (south gate)-Palashi intersection roads in order to enter the university areas, reads a press release issued by the DMP in this regard. All other intersections in the area will be closed, it said.
No public gathering would be allowed at outdoor including roads and flyovers areas after 6:00pm but vehicular movement would remain as usual.
All the bars have been instructed to close before 6:00pm on December 31. People with licensed firearms have been asked not to carry their weapon for nine hours from 8:00pm, and restaurants, said the DMP chief.
Fireworks have been prohibited.
He said the DMP with the help of officials of the Department of Narcotics Control would conduct a three-day drive against illegal drugs.
For any emergency on using the roads in the capital the DMP requested citizens to contact DC traffic (north) 01713373225, ADC traffic (north) 01713373226, AC traffic (Gulshan) 01713398497, AC traffic (Uttara) 01713398498, DC traffic (south) 01713373223, ADC traffic (south) 01713373224, DC (Gulshan) 01713373166 and DC (Uttara) 01713373156.
The aboive articles were reproduced for educational purpose.