• 4 female ‘JMB activists’ held

    Rapid Action Battalion claims to have arrested four suspected female members of Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in different areas of the capital and Gazipur early yesterday.
    All of the four are from the female unit of the banned militant outfit formed under the guidance of JMB’s southern region chief Mahmudul Hasan alias Hasan, claimed Khandker Lutful Kabir, commanding officer of Rab-4, at a press briefing at its headquarters in Mirpur.
    They were allegedly spreading extremist ideologies among other females in different areas in the name of teaching Arabic.
    “Their current objective was to strengthen the female unit and collect funds for terror activities,” he said while replying to a query.
    The arrestees are Aklima Rahman Moni, Khadija Parveen Meghla, Ishrat Jahan Mou — all fourth-year students of Manarat International University (MIU) in the capital — and Istishna Afroz Oishee, an intern doctor at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
    The elite force came to know about the existence of the female unit after it arrested the JMB leader Mahmudul in Gazipur area on July 21, said Kabir.
    Based on information gleaned from him, a Rab-4 team kept a close watch on Aklima for days, and finally arrested her from her home in Signboard area of the district around 2:00am yesterday.
    Oishee was arrested from her home in Moghbazar, and Meghla and Mou from theirs in separate areas of Mirpur later, he added.
    Rab claims to have recovered a huge number of jihadi books, documents, video clips and other write-ups from their homes, laptops and mobile phones.
    These were put on display before the media at yesterday’s briefing.
    The Rab-4 chief claimed that Aklima had been “involved” in militant activities for several years. She became “active” recently after she was given the responsibility to form the female unit of the JMB, he claimed.
    Oishee was “inspired” by a “foreign friend” to get involved in militant activities four years ago. The other two were “radicalised” around seven months ago, he added.
    Although Rab claimed that Aklima and Oishee used to take the vital decisions of the female JMB unit, the crime buster could not say anything exactly about their positions or the structure of the unit immediately.
    Kabir also claimed that during their primary interrogations, the arrestees told Rab officials that they supported the terror attacks and all the secret killings carried out in Bangladesh in recent years.
    They think themselves the “ideological followers” of the so-called Islamic State. They believe the only “punishment” for those who are progressive and secular is death, the Rab official claimed.
    “They also believe that the death should be awful so that it sends panic among other people.”
    Replying to a query whether the arrested students of the MIU were propagating extremist views among other students at private university, Kabir said their investigation was at an “initial” stage.
    “We will give our topmost priority to the issue during our investigation as we had a bitter experience in case of North South University,” he said, adding that none of the culprits would be spared.
    Rab officials said they would try to find out whether the female JMB unit was formed to carry arms from one place to another as “it was noticed in the past that different militant organisations used females to carry arms and ammunition before their operations.”
    On July 24, police arrested four women in Sirajganj who they say were taking preparation to carry out a “massive attack” in the district.

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