B’desh: Al-Qaeda linked militants active in hilly areas

Dhaka, Jul 14 (UNI) An al-Qaeda-linked militant group has reportedly been active in the country’s mountain areas under a new name.
It is learned that this group is conducting training and da’wah work under the garb of an organization called ‘Dawatul Islam’ as a shield.
According to sources, Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi is leading the extremist activities in the hilly areas under the banner of the organization ‘Dawatul Islam’.
He has also set up two militant hideouts at Lama and Khagrachari in Bandarban. There are 20 to 25 active members of this group.
A senior intelligence official told on condition of anonymity that Mahmudul Hassan Gunbi, known for his extremist views, is currently the spiritual leader of Ansar al-Islam. However, he has resorted to a tactic using an organization called ‘Dawatul Islam’ as a shield.
Using the name of this organization, Ansar al-Islam has been propagating its activities and extremist ideology in the country’s hilly areas and in some areas of char areas in North Bengal.
Ansar al-Islam claims to be al-Qaeda’s branch in the Indian subcontinent (AQIS).
Multiple law enforcement sources say, Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi is also working as a key figure in an extremist group called Manhaji. He and three others are one of the leaders of this group.
The other two are Maulana Harun Izhar and Ali Hasan Osama. The two have been arrested and are now in jail.
This Manhaji group is also secretly using Hefazat-e-Islam as a shield.
Law enforcement has learned from the detainees that the Manhaji group also follows al-Qaeda’s ideology and has been using Hefazat-e-Islam as a shield.
There are allegations that Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi also used this organization as a shield by keeping friendship with the leaders of Hefazat-e-Islam.
Gunbi’s pictures with various leaders of Hefazat have also been seen on social media.
When asked about this, Hefazat-e-Islam secretary general Nurul Islam Jihadi told that, “Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi does not have any post in Hefazat. His various statements contain anti-NGO statements, especially in the hilly areas. Recently, a neo-Muslim named Omar Farooq was killed in Bandarban. I have heard that Omar Farooq converted to Islam through Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi.
Sources involved in anti-militant operation say, Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi is the current Amir of Dawatul Islam.
Earlier, Maulana Nazimuddin was the Amir of the organization. He was arrested more than once on charges of involvement in militancy.
Dawatul Islam members Saiful Islam, Abdul Hamid, Anisur Rahman and Hasan have been arrested earlier in militancy-related cases.
Gunbi’s close friend Maulana Ali Hasan alias Osama was arrested by police from Rajbari last May.
Ali Hassan Osama and several other Ansar al-Islam members were arrested as part of a plot to attack the Jatiya Sangsad building.
After questioning them, information came to light that Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi was associated with the banned militant group Ansar al-Islam.
Gunbi was shown as a fugitive accused in a case filed at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station for allegedly planning an attack on the parliament building.
Gunbi went into hiding after the case in May.
On the basis of intelligence information that he was hiding in the deep hills of Khagrachhari, the law enforcement forces conducted several raids in the hills to arrest Gunbi.
Asked about Dawatul Islam and Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi, Khandaker Al Moin, commander of the RAB’s law and media branch, told that Ansar al-Islam militants, who had been arrested at various times, had mentioned Dawatul Islam’s name during interrogation. It is learned that the organization is involved in extremist activities.
“We have received intelligence about Gunbi, he said. We have received information from some arrested members of Ansar al-Islam. So, like other law enforcement agencies, we are also looking for him”, he said.

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