Since the brutal militant attack at Gulshan’s Holey Artisan Bakery to latest Nakhalpara, a total of 60 suspected militants, including Neo JMB top leader Tamim Chowdhury and his successor Sarwar Jahan, were killed in 36 anti-militant operations across the country conducted by law enforcers.
The striking teams also arrested over 100 suspected militants and recovered suicidal vests, firearms, high-powered grenades, explosives, improvised explosive devices (IED) from their hideouts.
Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Haque said, “Combating militancy in Bangladesh has been a role model in the world.”
Detective sources said the Neo JMB still poses a threat to public safety. Though some of its top leaders have been killed in anti-militant operations, the militant organisation is still trying to reorganise under new leadership.
The Neo JMB reportedly had been planning a large scale attack. But they failed to carry out their plans due to the precautions of the law enforcement agencies and the continuous anti-militant drives, the sources added.
Several sources of the law enforcement agencies involved in anti-militant activities said after the death of Neo JMB top leader Tamim Chowdhury and his successor Sarwar Jahan, Mainul Islam alias Musa of Rajshahi became its new leader. Under his leadership, this militant group, which follows IS ideology, had planned yet another massive attack.
Last year, two militants were caught in Comilla along the Dhaka-Chittagong highway. Based on the information collected from the duo, the police unearthed a militant den last March in Sitakunda.
The police’s counter-terrorism unit then found militant dens in Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj, Jessore, and Jhenaidah.
The militants had stocked up bombs and explosives in those hideouts. Later, the police destroyed the hideouts.
Monirul Islam, the chief of counter-terrorism unit of police, said perhaps the militants were planning a fresh attack. But the continued anti-militant operations since March had declined their capabilities.
Tamim Chowdhury and almost all the top leaders of Neo JMB were killed in these operations. Eight of them had been involved in the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery, he added.
The police official further said after Tamim Chowdhury was killed in an operation on August 27 in Narayanganj, Sarwar Jahan took over the leadership. The group started reorganising under him. Sarwar Jahan was killed in a Rab raid in Savar in October last. Then Mainul Islam alias Musa took the helm of Neo JMB. Under his leadership, Neo JMB was preparing to re-launch itself in a big way. Intelligence agencies learnt that it had been also collecting new members.
Within a short time after the Holey Artisan Bakery incident, police managed to destroy the Neo JMB network.
Monirul Islam said after the Holey Artisan Bakery attack, the only successful militant attack was in Sylhet.
On March 25, when army commandos launched an operation in Atia Mahal in Sylhet, the militants killed the Rab intelligence chief, a police officer and seven others.
A militant strapped a bomb to himself and exploded it near a police check post at the intersection in front of the Dhaka airport. He was carrying a luggage bomb (a powerful bomb concealed inside luggage). Another suicidal bomb attack was launched on March 17 at the Rab barracks in Ashkona.
Several officials of the counter terrorism unit said that the militants had made the luggage bombs in Atia Mahal, Sylhet. Musa was killed along with other militants in the commando raid in that hideout.
The police counter terrorism chief recently said after the death of Musa, Ayub Bacchu became the new chief of Neo JMB.
Monirul Islam said, “The militants don’t have the strength and capability to carry out a big attack now. They’re scattered and trying to reorganise. We’re also continuing our operations.”