Fresh on the heels of the arrest of Abdur Rahman, Bangladesh nabs the other most wanted terrorist in the country
Abdur Rahman, after his capture
Bangladesh has scored the second high profile arrest of an al Qaeda linked terrorist in less than a week, and essentially captured the numbers one and two terrorists in the country. After the arrest of Abdur Rahman, an associate of Osama bin Laden and one of the original signatories of al Qaeda’s fatwa establishing the International Islamic Front, Siddique ul-Islam, better know as Bangla Bhai, along with two associates were nabbed after a shootout with Bangladeshi police. While the details of his arrest are sketchy, the likelihood is his arrest was facilitated by information obtained from Rahman’s capture and subsequent interrogation. Rahman threatened to ‘martyr’ himself during the standoff with police last week, but later surrendered without a fight. A case of ‘martyrdom for thee but not for me,’ which should not inspire the rank and file jihadists. Bangla Bhai also chose surrender over suicide. (Update: Andrew Cochran has a roundup of news from Bangladesh concerning the capture of Bangla Bhai The Counterterrorism Blog.)
Bangla Bhai is the ruthless military commander of the al Qaeda linked Islamist terrorist group Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (Awakened Muslim Masses of Bangladesh), or JMJB. He fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, and is said to revel in torturing and murdering his victims. The Southeast Asia Terrorism Portal describes the organization of JMJB, and his role, “While Maulana Abdur Rahman is the Amir (chief) of the JMJB, Siddiqul Islam alias Azizur Rahman alias Omar Ali Litu alias Bangla Bhai is the ‘Commander’ of the outfit’s anti-extremist operations.” Bangla Bhai sat on the Majlis-e-Shura (central council) with Rahman and five other members of JMJB. Five of the seven members of JMJB’s Shura Council are now in custody.
After Abdur Rahman was arrested, Bangla Bhai was labeled the “next target” of the Bangladeshi government’s crackdown on Islamist terrorists. Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai are believed to be the masterminds behind the well-coordinated bombing attacks across Bangladesh in 2005, where hundreds of bombs detonated within one hour of each other in all of Bangladesh’s administrative districts save one. The attacks appear to have waken up the people of Bangladesh to the threat of Islamist extremism in their country, and the government of Bangladesh, while often accused of being blind to the threat, has made two very important arrests in the span of a week.
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