The Rapid Action Battalion has arrested a “top militant leader” of the Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh in Dhaka, who was once a fashion model.
Mehedi Hasan, 29, was arrested in Banasree during a raid on a house on Wednesday, said RAB-3 Commander Lt Col Tuhin Mohammad Masud.
He was remanded to RAB custody for four days for a terror case filed with Banani police after he was taken to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court on Thursday afternoon.
Hasan did not have a lawyer representing him and was irresponsive to questions from the judge, police ASI Farid Miah told bdnews24.com.
A business graduate from Darul Ihsan University, he is known as Imam Mehedi Hasan aka Abu Jibril within the outlawed extremist group.
“He is the commander of the Ad-Dar-e-Kutni, a brigade under the revived JMB’s Tamim-Sarwar group. We have been looking for him for a long time,” said Lt Col Tuhin, who led the raid.
Hasan worked as a ramp model during his student years. He started a business after completing his studies. His family hails from Rajapur village of Patuakhali’s Bauphal Upazila. His father is a retired assistant sub-inspector of police.
He stands accused in previous terror cases filed at police stations in Uttara and Banani, said the RAB official, who briefed reporters at the elite force’s media centre in Dhaka’s Karwan Bazar.
Hasan told RAB during preliminary questioning that he has been involved with the JMB since 2015. Two laptops, one cellphone, a passport and jihadi pamphlets have been seized from his residence.
“From the items we found in his possession, we believe that the ‘Brigade Ad-Dar-e-Kutni’ has gained its own operational capabilities and can hit any target.”
The RAB had found evidence of ‘two military brigades’ after raiding the home of JMB chief Sarwar Jahan aka Abu Ibrahim Al Hanif who was killed during a RAB operation in October last year, the elite force said in a statement.
Sarwar is said to have reorganised the JMB outfit with help from Canada expatriate Tamim Chowdhury, the mastermind of the terror attack on Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery.
Of the two, the ‘Badar Squad Brigade’ reportedly played an active role in several terror attacks including the siege of Holey Artisan, termed the deadliest in Bangladesh’s history.
The tech-savvy ‘Brigade Ad-Dar-e-Kutni’ was then kept as a ‘reserve force’ that worked to recruit operatives, according to RAB.
As the ‘Badr Squad Brigade’ became weakened in counter-terror activities, the ‘Brigade Ad-Dar-e-Kutni’ tried to gather strength by recruiting more members.
The RAB came to know about Hasan heading the brigade after questioning suspects arrested in other anti-terror raids, the RAB-3 chief told reporters.
Hasan had directly “communicated” with the gunmen who stormed Holey Artisan and several top militant leaders, RAB officials said. He would appear in radical video channels for lectures and administered ‘bayat’, or allegiance, to recruits. He also collected funds from the members.
“The Ad-Dar-e-Kutni Brigade has members in various levels. We are preparing legal charges against Mehedi Hasan.”