Tracing jihadi elements in the Northeast

A TIMELINE

2015

  • January 2: Three arrested operatives of JMB, including Sahanur Alom, are taken to West Bengal under strict security vigil in connection with the October 2 Burdwan blast. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is likely to seek the custody of all the three JMB operatives after they are produced in a NIA Court in Kolkata tomorrow.Those taken to West Bengal apart from Sahanur were Rafikul Islam and Saikhul Islam. While Saikhul was appointed by the JMB to recruit new members in Barpeta, Rafikul was the outfit’s operative in Upper Assam.
  • January 3: Three persons arrested in Assam for alleged connection with the Burdwan blast, are remanded to eight days’ NIA custody in Kolkata. Officiating chief judge at Bankshall Court GC Talukdar remands Saiful Islam, Rafikul Islam and Sahanur Alam, who were brought on a production warrant by the court from Gauhati Central Jail, till January 9. National Investigation Agency counsel Shyamal Ghosh prayed for their custody for 10 days submitting that they were directly involved in the Burdwan case.
  • March 2: A Kamrup (metro) Chief Judicial Magistrate (Guwahati) granted bail to Sujena Begum, and Jakaria, wife and brother of Sahanur Alom, a key accused in the October 2, 2014 Bardhaman blast case. This comes after Police's inability to file a chargesheet within 90 days of their arrest. Alom is a JMB operative arrested on December 5, 2014 in Assam.
  • April 12: The NIA's probe into the October 2, 2014, Bardhaman blasts could soon uncover the role of Pakistan's spy agency ISI and al Qaeda in helping JMB run its operations, top sources said. The agency is set to receive crucial documents from Bangladesh on the funding, membership and association of JMB with other groups which it believes would shed light on the outfit's links with ISI and al-Qaida. JMB has already established a substantial base in West Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand. An official said the 39 bombs recovered from the hideouts of JMB members in Bardhaman were possibly funded by ISI and al Qaeda.
  • May 20: Prime accused in the Burdwan blast and the key player of the JMB module in Assam, Sahanur Alom had told interrogators that over a 100 recruits from the State, mostly youths from western Assam districts, have undergone "training" in the Madrassas of West Bengal. The recruits were trained in handling guns and assembling explosives.
  • August 9: DGP Khagen Sarma states that most of the terrorist outfits backed by the Pakistani ISI work under the same umbrella and any of these groups can try to indulge in acts of violence to create disturbance in the State. Attempts by JMB to establish bases in the State were foiled. However, the JMB is still making efforts to establish bases in Assam.

2014

  • September 3: Reports state that Assam may soon face two- pronged threat from LeT and al Qaeda. The al Qaeda has issued a threat to establish bases in Assam, while the LeT has strengthened bases in Bangladesh, which may lead to serious problems for Assam.
  • September 5: MHA states that Islamic terror groups can easily influence Muslims in the Bodo areas, taking advantage of the present turmoil. MHA had identified at least 14 new Islamic fundamentalist organizations in the state, which includes the MSCA ILAA MVF Muslim Liberation Army, Muslim Liberation Front, Muslim Liberation Tigers of Assam and MULTA. Security agencies had also found the involvement of SIMI in one of the serial low intensity blasts in BTC in July. Security agencies stated that that another radical group Popular Front of India (PFI) was spreading its network in the state.
  • September 12: State Police, following intelligence warning after al Qaeda's decision to set up its organisational base in the State has set up a special task force for keeping tab on activities of fundamental groups.
  • October 2: An explosion occur in a house in the Khagragarh locality of Burdwan in West Bengal. Two suspected Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) terrorists are killed and a third injured.
  • October 9: Six persons are arrested of suspected jehadi operatives in Barpeta district.
  • October 11: Six suspected JMB members -- Rafikul Islam, Siraj Ali Khan, Shaikhul Islam, Jahuruddin, Golam Usmani and SarbeshAli are arrested. (The Telegraph)
  • October 21: Yusuf Ali, an arms dealer, suspected to be a linkman of Islamic fundamentalist groups, is killed in an encounter with security forces at Lalmati area in Kokrajhar district. Another person identified as Sohrab Ali is injured during the incident.
  • October 21: Two persons are arrested from Jwhwlao Dwimalu Road in Kokrajhar and five live ammunitions are recovered from the spot. The State Home Department has recently issued red alert in some sensitive districts including Kokrajhar following the threat from al–Qaeda and NDFB-S.
  • October 28: Jakaria Ali, who owned an optical shop, is arrested by Barpeta Police. According to inputs available with the security agencies, taking advantage of the porous international border elements of jehadi groups like Lasker-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Harkat –ul-Mujaheedin (HUM) etc., have used Assam as a corridor to enter India in the past. Though the elements of such groups had used the Bangladesh-West Bengal corridor more frequently, the Assam-Bangladesh border was also used a number of times. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had alerted the State police about such developments at different security level meetings.
  • October 29: Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi requests Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up the issue of militancy and fundamentalist activities with the neighbouring countries, stating that in recent times Assam appears to have been targeted by fundamentalist organisations like the Al-Qaeda. Some operatives having links with the Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) were recently arrested in Assam, he told the Prime Minister to explain the gravity of the situation. “There should be a similar mechanism at the inter-state level for West Bengal and the North Eastern States so that issues of jurisdiction do not come in the way of dealing with insurgency and militancy,” Gogoi said.
  • November 1: The Assam Government decides to hand over cases related to jihadi activities in the State to the NIA.
  • November 1: The National Investigating Agency (NIA) announces cash rewards for anyone providing information about 12 key operatives of the Jamaat-ul-Mujeheedin, Bangladesh (JMB) and the list includes the name of the leader of the Assam module of the militant outfit Sahanur Alom alias Doctor. NIA sources told The Assam Tribune that Sahanur, who hails from Sarthebari area in Barpeta district, is around 33 years of age and he is suspected to be the main man of the JMB in Assam. He is a quack dentist and is also known as Doctor. Sahanur was involved with the recruitment process of the JMB in Assam and he is wanted in connection with the Burdwan blast and conspiracy of the JMB to establish bases in India. Of the 12 persons wanted by the NIA in connection with the Burdwan blast case, five are Bangladeshi nationals. Apart from Sahanur, the others mentioned in the list of the NIA include Sajid, the head of the Burdwan module of the JMB. He is a Bangladeshi national and was staying in Purshidabad area of West Bengal. The others mentioned in the list are Abul Kalam, Amjad Ali Sheikh, Burhan Sheikh, Kausar, Nasurullah, Rejaur Karim, Habibur Rahman Sheikh, Talhe Sheikh and Maulana Yusuf Sheikh.
  • November 2: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducts searches in the houses of some close relatives, including Jakaria, the brother of the most wanted suspect of Burdwan blast Sahanur Alam alias ‘doctor’ in Barpeta district.
  • November 2: Sahanur Alom left the house with his wife, Sujina Begum, for his father-in-law’s house (about 30km away).
  • November 2: Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi says that the State Secretariat, the Kamakhya temple and the CM himself are targets of jihadi elements operating in the State.
  • November 3: A team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrives at Chatala under Sarthebari Police Station in Barpeta district. The NIA team raids the house of Sahanur Alam and questions two other persons. The team, comprising seven members of the Central investigating agency spent more than six hours in the residence of Sahanur, one of the most wanted accused in the Burdwan blast case and subsequent link to the Jamat-Ul-Mujaheedin, Bangladesh.
  • November 7: Sahanur’s wife Sujina is arrested in a joint operation by National Investigation Agency (NIA), Guwahati City Police and the CRPF. Sujina was arrested from the Inter-State Bus Terminus in Boragaon area of Guwahati.During preliminary investigation, she had confessed to have undergone training in Simulia madrassa in West Bengal on several occasions.Aged about 30, Sujina was with her one-and-half-year child when she was arrested by police. The arrest has been made under SOU Police Station case 1/14 under Sec 120 (b), 121 (a), 122, 142, 23 of the IPC read with 10/13/16/18(B)/20 Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (Assam Police).
  • November 7: The NIA arrest Zia–ul–Haque, a close aide of Jamaat–ul–Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) commander Sajid, from West Bengal’s Malda district in connection with the October 2 Burdwan blast. A resident of Kaliachak in the district, Haque is said to be key ‘jihadi motivator’ who would motivate trainees in Jihadi ideology, including those involved in the blast inside a house in Khagragarh in Burdwan district . “Haque was a part of a Jihadi training module where he was a key motivator and would motivate the trainees in jihadi ideology. He used to facilitate the training module by collecting Jihadi videos related to the Gujarat riots, Assam riots, killing of Rohingiyas etc.,” the National Investigation Agency said. The NIA said the videos were also shown in madrassas, including the ones at Simulia and Mukhimnagar, where the accused involved in the Burdwan blast are believed to have been radicalised in Jihadi ideology. The agency claimed Haque was closely associated with top JMB commanders, including the absconding Sajid, who is said to be the “chief of the Burdwan module” and Sakib alias Suman. “The NIA team also conducted a raid at his house in Malda and recovered a laptop. This laptop was reportedly handed over to Haque by Rizaul Karim after the Burdwan blast,” the agency said. Karim is one of the absconders involved in the blast. An NIA team had unearthed a huge cache of IEDs from Karim’s house shortly after taking over the probe.
  • November 8: Jamaat-ul-Mujaheedin Bangladesh (JUM) member Sujina Begum is produced in the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kamrup and remanded to police custody for 14 days. Begum was trained at Simulia Madrassa in West Bengal by activists of the JMB and she was actively involved in the activities of the outfit. The job assigned to her in Assam was to spread jihad through women and she was specially trained for the job. She undertook month-long courses at least three times and it is also learnt that several other women from the State received similar training in the madrassa.
  • November 8: West Bengal Police arrest the mastermind of Burdwan blast Sajid, a Bangladeshi national and stated to be a chief commander of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) terror group. Sajid was arrested by personnal of Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate from the airport area of North 24-Parganas district. “Sajid, alias Sheikh Rahamatullah, is a member of Jamat-ul-Mujahadeen Bangladesh and is a member of Majlis-e-Sura, which is the central committee of Jamat,” said Bidhannagar Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar. Deputy Commissioner (Detective Department) Kankar Prasad Bouri said Sajid was the mastermind of the Burdwan blast case who had spent a few years in a jail in Bangladesh.The 40-year-old Sajid stayed near Lalgola Madrasa at Mukimnagar in Murshidabad district.
  • November 10: According to the sources who questioned Sajid, alleged to be a mastermind of the October 2 blast, JMB was trying to set up a terror network in West Bengal, particularly in three districts of Murshidabad, Nadia and Malda, and in Assam through armed struggle besides having an ‘Shariyat’ rule in Bangladesh. Thus the banned terror group was ready to engage in terror acts to achieve their goal, Sajid, a Bangladeshi national and stated to be the chief commander of JMB, is claimed to have confessed before the investigators.Videos of alleged atrocities on Muslims were recovered from the possession of Sajid and he told the interrogators that such clippings were showed to indoctrinate many youths into JMB’s fold. During interrogation, Sajid also spoke about the process of selecting hideouts, procurement and use of IEDs besides identifying, recruiting and indoctrinating youths from various madrassas.
  • November 10: Chairman of the pro-talk faction of ULFA Arabinda Rajkhowa says that they are committed to fight jihadi forces that have reared their heads in Assam.
  • November 10: A minor explosion takes place outside the camp office of NIA in Salt Lake area in Kolkata. A crude bomb went off outside the NIA camp office, causing damage to the boundary wall of the CRPF campus where the anti-terror probe agency has established its camp office to probe the Burdwan blast.
  • November 11: Investigators trying to trace the roots of the bleeding man who identified himself as "Subhan Mandal" before he breathed his last on 2 October find that that Mandal was Abdul Karim, who worked in Calcutta and hailed from Kaferpur under Nanoor police station in Birbhum. Karim - one of the two persons killed in the bomb-assembling home last month - was the cousin of the youth who bought chemicals from Calcutta's Camac Street to make the bombs. The chemical procurer, Amjad Ali alias Kajol Sheikh, was arrested on 10 November. On the basis of information provided by Ali, the investigators have reached a tentative conclusion that Subhan was Karim.
  • November 11: The brother of Sajid, the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh's alleged point man in Bengal, has been arrested in Bangladesh's Narayanganj port town. A spokesperson for the Rapid Action Battalion of Bangladesh said that they arrested Mohammad Monayem from Farazikanda in Narayanganj . Sajid, said to be the son of a Bangladeshi armyman, was arrested in India last week.
  • November 11: A mobile phone used by Burdwan blast accused Sahanur Alom is recovered from Sahanur’s house at Chatala village in Barpeta district by the National Investigation Agency. Sahanur had left the phone behind while fleeing his home a few days after the blast. Its SIM card is registered in the name of his mother-in-law, who passed away a couple of months ago. The NIA also questioned five residents of Sahanur’s village.
  • November 13: A team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will be visiting Dhaka on November 17 to brief the authorities in Dhaka and also seek cooperation to unravel all plans of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). The team of NIA headed by an officer of the rank of inspector general.
  • November 13: Assam Police and the NIA launch a manhunt in Guwahati for Jihadi Sahanur Alom’s “core group men” who are believed to be in the capital city. According to security sources, 12 members of Sahanur’s “core group”, which included two females, are hiding in the city since the NIA crackdown at Chatala village of Barpeta district. “All of them are residents of the village. They are absconding since about a month,” the sources said. The 12 suspected people are believed to be working as masons in construction sites.
  • November 15: The Special Operation Unit of Assam Police arrests Sabruddin Ahmed on charges of involvement with the activities of the Jamatul-Mujaheedin Bangladesh (JMB). The arrest took place following raids conducted by a joint team of the Assam Police and NIS at Mukalmua in Nalbari district on 14 November. Sabrudding is reported to be cousin of Sahanur's wife Sujana Begum. the securoty forces came to know about the Mukalmua hideout from interrogation with Sujana. According to inputs, Sahanur might be in Garo Hills in Meghalaya.
  • December 6: Sahanur Alom is arrested by Assam Police from Nalbari.
  • December 7: The Court of CJM, Kamrup (Metro) remands Sahanur Alom to 14 days of police custody.
  • December 7: Assam DGP Khagen Sharma says that after the JMB was banned in Bangladesh, its leaders tried to settle down as Indian citizens in Assam and West Bengal and they could do so as seen in several cases. Sarma informed that although Assam has never been used as a centre for operational training, motivational training by JMB leaders did take place in different pockets of the State. The operational training was mostly held in Bangladesh and West Bengal. "JMB leaders had come here and recruited boys. Districts like Dhubri, Barpeta and Nalbari were the most vulnerable and youths were motivated towards jehadi activities. Places like Lower and Central Assam and the Barak Valley too reported such recruitment", he said.
  • December 8: Interrogation by the Assam Police establishes prime accused Sahanur Alam’s involvement in the October 2 Burdwan blast and his links with the Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which has set up a network in West Bengal. According to Additional Director General of Police, Special Branch, Pallab Bhattacharjee, Sahanur informed that he was motivated to join the JMB. As the JMB was working against the Bangladesh government, it was under tremendous pressure and was trying to take shelter in neighbouring West Bengal. And a network was established.
  • December 13: The questioning of arrested Sahanur Alom, one of the key persons of the JMB in Assam and other members of the outfit arrested in Assam and West Bengal revealed that the JMB was trying to establish a full-fledged network in Assam, particularly in the Muslim-dominated areas and trained up several persons specifically for the purpose. Security sources said that at least ten people were specially trained by the JMB for establishing the network of the outfit in Assam. According to the reports, the JMB started trying to establish bases in Assam after the ethnic riots in the BTAD area in 2012 where more than a hundred people were killed. The JMB took advantage of the situation and started exploring the possibility of expanding bases in the State.
  • December 17: NIA probe into the Burdwan blast reveals that JMB had prepared a hit list of around 40 to 50 Bodo leaders to assassinate. An unnamed official of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) stated, "Assam was the immediate target of the JMB module detected after an accidental blast on October 2 in West Bengal's Burdwan. Arrested accused have told counter-terror officials that a dossier-like hit-list of around 40 to 50 Bodo leaders was prepared by the JMB members in which their photographs and other details were mentioned. These Bodo leaders were to be killed in retaliation of anti-Muslim riots in the Bodoland Territorial Area District in the last two years." He also added, "It seems that around 100 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) prepared by the Burdwan module were meant for Assam. Initially, the suspicion was that the IEDs were being transported to Bangladesh as claimed by some lower rank members of the module. But now, the NIA has reasons to believe that the IEDs were being sent to Assam may be through Bangladesh. The agency is yet to get concrete evidence in this regard as it has not recovered any IEDs in Assam so far".
  • December 19: A top security official reveals that at least"twenty IED packets (unassembled bombs) were transported from Bangladesh to Assam in May this year. "Ten of them were given to Sahanur Alom at Barpeta and the remaining to another jihadi cadre who is yet to be traced".
  • December 20: Assam Police's SOU recovered a consignment of bombs belonging to JMB. The bombs were recovered by a five-member team of the Special Operation Unit from Panpara village in Barpeta district. Senior Assam Police officials confirmed that the explosives were IEDs. A Police official stated that "The operation was carried out following confessions by Nur Jamal Haque, a resident of Pakalagi village (Baksa) adjacent to Panpara village (Barpeta). He was arrested from Chirang on December 19. The explosives were kept buried near his residence," He is the twelfth jihadi activist to be arrested in the State. Nurjamal was a trained cadre of the JMB and he was a close associate of Sahanur Alom, one of the key men of the Bangladesh based militant outfit in the State. Also a total of ten IEDs were recovered during the incident.

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