Bangladesh Police Detain Islamist Militant Leader Shamin Mahfuz

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Founder of Jamaat al Ansar fil Hindal Sharqiya, Shamin Mahfuz, Accused of Running Militant Training Camps in Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts, Arrested by Police.

Shamin Mahfuz (second left) and His Wife (second right) Escorted by Bangladesh Police After Arrest in Dhaka. (Photo: AFP)

Bangladesh police have apprehended Shamin Mahfuz, the founder of Jamaat al Ansar fil Hindal Sharqiya, following a crackdown on the group that was initiated several months ago.

The arrest took place late Friday in an industrial suburb of the capital, where Mahfuz and his wife were discovered in possession of a pistol, explosives, and bomb-making materials.

Officers stated that Mahfuz is accused of assisting in the operation of militant training camps in the volatile Chittagong Hill Tracts region.

Mohammad Asaduzzaman from the Dhaka Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism unit informed reporters that an anti-terrorism case has been filed against Mahfuz, and they are seeking a 10-day remand to interrogate him.

At present, there is no information available from Mahfuz’s legal representatives regarding the case.

According to Asaduzzaman, Shamin Mahfuz, the founder of Jamaat al Ansar fil Hindal Sharqiya, had been previously detained in 2014 and during his imprisonment, he established connections with other outlawed extremist organizations.

It has been revealed that Mahfuz facilitated an agreement for his organization to utilize training camps operated by the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), a predominantly Christian tribal insurgent group.

In October of last year, the Rapid Action Battalion security force, Bangladesh’s elite unit, conducted a joint operation targeting KNF and Sharqiya encampments in three remote hill towns near the Indian border, resulting in the arrest of numerous individuals.

The crackdown led to the displacement of hundreds of villagers who fled across the border and sought refuge in the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram.

Recent clashes between the KNF and the Bangladesh military have resulted in the deaths of at least five soldiers over the past four months, as reported by the army.

The KNF, however, denied any affiliation with Sharqiya in a Facebook post issued last year.

In response to a series of high-profile terror attacks that claimed the lives of nearly a dozen atheist writers, secular activists, and minorities, Bangladesh security forces initiated a nationwide campaign against Islamist extremists last decade.

The deadliest incident occurred in 2016 when a group linked to the Islamic State killed 22 civilians, including 17 foreigners, during a siege at an upscale restaurant in Dhaka.

During the extensive operations targeting extremist hideouts, Bangladesh police fatally shot over 100 individuals and arrested thousands of alleged members of extremist groups.

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Toshika Chauhan

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