Members of banned militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), who are divided in various cells, are trying to regroup, said Rapid Action Battalion.
The elite force came up with the information at press briefing at the RAB’s media centre on Friday following the arrests of four members of the banned ABT.
A petrol team of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested four members of ABT from city’s Uttara area early on Friday.
The arrestees are M Shahriar Nafis alias M Ammar Hossen, 20, M Russel alias Sajedul Islam Gifari, 24, M Rabiul Islam alias Nurul Islam, 24 and M Abdul Maleque, 31.
“They are trying to regroup,” Mufti Mahmud Khan, director of Rab’s legal and media wing, told a press briefing at Rab Media Centre in Kawran Bazar.
“ABT members are working on target killings although they have no leader to guide them,” he said. “Their main goal is to free Rahmani from jail. If the legal ways fail, then they are ready to attack jail to free him.”
RAB said they were planning to kill the editor of a national daily, which published a criticism of hadith, or Islamic tradition, on marriage.
The article was published on the newspaper on Jul 28 last year, for which the militants blamed the editor, whose name was left out in the briefing.
Arrested ABT militants told Rab that they currently had 92 members who are divided in various cells controlled by a person identifying himself as Aman. “They are campaigning through four-five Facebook pages at Aman’s orders,” the Rab officer said.
These groups mainly monitor online activists. “One of the militants, Shahriar, joined an atheist group using a fake name. At one stage of monitoring, the militants planned to kill one of the [members of the atheist group] according to ABT’s organisational decision,” Rab said.
Among the arrestees, Shahriar hailing from Dhunat upazila of Bogura studied till class seven from madrasa. He joined ATB after being influenced by Aman through Facebook.
Md Rasel alias Sajedul Islam hailing from Fulgachia of Bhola, passed SSC in 2013 and took a job in a garment factory. He, too, was influenced by Aman on Facebook and joined ATB.
Nurul Islam hailing from Bogura passed Dakhil examination in 2010 and later got admitted to Bogura Polytechnic in 2015. He was radicalised by Shahriar and joined ATB.
Md Abdul Malek, a driver, was influenced by Rasel on the social media and joined ATB in 2018.
Among the arrestees, Nafis aka Ammar had planned a murder in Bogura last week, but decided to not carry it out because by then it was nightfall.
The Ansarullah Bangla Team came into focus following the 2013 murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider. Mufti Jasim Uddin Rahmani, who heads the organisation, has been in jail since being convicted of the murder.
Bangladesh government banned the outfit in 2015. Ansarullah members then began regrouping under a new banner of ‘Ansar al-Islam’, according to detectives.
The detectives also believe that former army major Syed Mohammad Ziaul Haque, one of the main suspects behind a failed coup in 2012, may be involved with the organisation.
In 2017, Bangladesh banned all activities of the Ansar al-Islam.
Militants from Ansarullah Bangla Team and Ansar al-Islam are also believed to be responsible for the 2015 murder of writer Avijit Roy and other similar killings.