Bangladesh: 4 members of banned militant group arrested

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A leader and three members of a banned radical group in Bangladesh were arrested with bomb-making materials and were planning to commit sabotage in parts of the country, security officials said Thursday.

The Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh waged a violent campaign demanding Shariah law and created a large support network before being banned in 2005.

Its members who are on bail or outside jail are now trying to regroup, said Mufti Mahmud Khan, a spokesman for the elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion that made the latest arrests.

The group’s current leader, Abdul Baten, and his associate Monir Mollah were arrested at a bus station in Dhaka, Khan said, and information from them led security officials to a railway station where they arrested Golam Kibria and Mollah Roman, who were travelling to Dhaka from Chittagong.

“We arrested them from Kamlapur Railway Station,” Khan said.

The battalion seized firebombs, explosives and other bomb-making materials the four had in their possession, but Khan did not give details on the acts of sabotage the men were suspected of planning. The men were produced before journalists at a news briefing on Thursday but little other information was disclosed about them.

JMB was founded in 1998 by Shaikh Abdur Rahman, a religious teacher educated in Saudi Arabia. It became known in 2001 when it engaged in conflict with an extremist communist group in Dinajpur in northern Bangladesh.

On Aug. 17, 2005, it exploded about 500 homemade bombs at nearly 300 locations almost simultaneously across the country as part of a campaign demanding the introduction of Shariah law.

Its violent campaign involved attacking and killing judges and police and threatening journalists and women without veils.

It created a large network of supporters; some government officials say it has as many as 10,000 members.

In 2005, six of its leaders including Rahman were arrested and the group was banned. The six were hanged in 2007 after being convicted of the killings of two judges.

Dabiq, a magazine of the Islamic State group, has claimed Rahman was the founder of the jihadi movement in Bangladesh.

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