Bangladesh Arrests Alleged Islamist Recruiting in Rohingya Camps

By Muktadir Rashid   30 January 2023

Dhaka – A counterterrorism commander in Dhaka has announced the arrest of a Bangladeshi who trained as an Islamist militant in Afghanistan and was recruiting in Rohingya refugee camps.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s counterterrorism chief Md Asaduzzaman told the media that Fakhrul Islam donated funds to attract Rohingyas towards extremism.

He said Fakhrul, a weapon trainer, was somewhat successful at recruiting in the camps. His son Saiful Islam, 24, Suruzzaman, 45, Abdullah Al Mamun, 46, Din Islam, 25, and Mohammad Abdullah Al Mamun, 46, were also arrested in Dhaka on Friday for their association with banned extremist organization Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami Bangladesh. The Al Qaeda-inspired group was accused by Bangladeshi security agencies of carrying out deadly attacks in the early 2000s.

Fakhrul went to work in Pakistan in 1988 and crossed the border to fight in Kandahar province before spending three years in Iran. He then returned to Bangladesh through Pakistan and India in 1998, according to the counterterrorism officer.

Asaduzzaman said Fakhrul received weapons training in remote areas of Kandahar province, met al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Taleban boss Mohammed Omar and performed sentry duty.

Officers seized nine mobile phones, which are believed to have been used for spreading extremist propaganda and bomb-making instructions.

Dhaka’s Metropolitan magistrate Mehedi Hasan on Saturday placed the men on a three-day remand.

Asaduzzaman said Fakhrul and the five others have refused to speak to the police,

He said Fakhrul learned to use automatic rifles and rocket launchers in Pakistan and Afghanistan during the 1980s.

Internal affairs minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Thursday warned that “terrorists” might lure Rohingyas refugees in Bangladesh into extremism if the community was not rapidly repatriated to Myanmar.

“The nationals from Myanmar will pose a security challenge for Bangladesh if their stay lingers,” the minister told the media.

Asaduzzaman said the Rohingya community was involved in smuggling methamphetamines into Bangladesh while others were engaged in killing community leaders in the camps where over 1 million Rohingya are held.

Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion on January 23 announced the capture of two suspected members of the allegedly extremist Jamaatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya group after a shooting incident near the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar.

RAB said they arrested the group’s “military wing chief” Masukur Rahman Ranbir, also known as Masum, and “bomb expert” Abul Bashar Mridha, also known as Koy.

The RAB’s legal director Khandaker Al Moin accused Masukur of recruiting young people from across the country and providing military training.

“We will ask why he came to the Rohingya camps,” he told the media in Ukhia.

The RAB said it seized one pistol, two homemade guns, 112 bullets and cash.