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Mastermind of bloody Ashulia bank heist held

FE Report | June 01, 2015 00:00:00

Mahfuzul Islam Shameem alias Sumon. — Focus Bangla

A young man suspected by police as a militant and mastermind behind the bloody bank robbery in Ashulia was run in Sunday from the capital's Badda area.

He was identified as Mahfuzul Islam Shamim alias Suman, 35, also a key member of the banned Islamist outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team.

Police said he had plotted the bank heist at the Ashulia branch of Bangladesh Commerce Bank on April 21.

With the latest arrest, the law enforcers have so far held 11 persons in connection with the daylight daring shooting and looting of the bank that killed nine people, including the branch manager.

Superintendent of Police in Dhaka Habibur Rahman at a press conference at the DMP media centre on the day said they arrested him from Tetulbari Road of Madya Badda after 39 days of the sensational bank robbery.

"He (Suman) was the operations commander and used firearms and explosives for creating panic among people to help the robbers leave the place after the looting," the SP said at the briefing.

The police officer, who was present in the drive to hunt him down, said the arrested person also was involved with JMB (Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh) and had managed to avert a police raid on a JMB den in Bogra on August 23, 2013.

Citing confessional statement of one Al Amin, who was arrested earlier, under section 164 of the CrPC (Code of the Criminal Procedure), he said the arrested person was also involved in stanching away Tk 0.5 million after gunning down a bKash agent at Boardbazar of Gazipur in March 2015.    

When contacted, Officer-in-Charge of Ashulia Police Station and investigation officer of the robbery Deepak Chandra Saha said they came to know about engagement of the banned Islamic outfit with the deadly bank robbery during interrogation of four persons arrested earlier.

He said they also informed them that the militant group made the plot of bank heist to finance legal move to ensure release of the group's detained leaders and activists.

Apart from the killing of nine people in the bank raid, more than 20 others sustained bullet and splinter wounds when the robbers opened fire and set off bombs while escaping.

One of the suspected bandits was lynched and two others were handed over to police by a local mob.

Jasim is believed to be one of the members of the gang who managed to flee. They also left behind more than Tk6 lakh that they had looted.

Police said the matter of Ansarullah's involvement in the bank heist came up during the custodial interrogation of two suspects--Borhan, 35, and Saiful, 25.

The government has banned the Ansarullah Bangla Team through issuing a gazette on May 25.

According to TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) is an al Qaeda-inspired Islamic extremist group in Bangladesh that started its activities during 2007 as Jama'atul Muslemin, funded by different NGOs. The group ceased to operate when funds dried up. It resurfaced during 2013 as ABT.

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