By Sumi Khan
Dhaka, July 19 (IANS) An Indian woman, who was heading the women’s wing of the banned neo-Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (neo-JMB), has been arrested in Bangladesh, security officials said.
“Besides raising funds, Proggya Debnath alias Aayesha Jannat Mohona alias Jannatun Tasnim was given the responsibility to recruit young girls for the women’s wing of the banned militant outfit from both Bangladesh and India and train them,” a senior official of Bangladesh Police’s Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) branch said.
“In fact, in the last couple of months, she has recruited some people too,” the official said.
The CTTC officials are interrogating her for last three days to identify her associates.
The 25-year-old Debnath alias Tasnim, who hails from West Bengal’s Hooghly, had purportedly converted to Islam and maintained close ties with neo-JMB’s then women wing head Asmani Khatun, who is in custody after her arrest earlier this year, intelligence officials told IANS.
Tasnim was arrested in Dhaka’s Sadarghat area on the evening of July 16 and was sent to four days police custody, Deputy Commissioner of Police Saiful Islam told IANS. An Indian passport, a Bangladeshi NID, and a mobile phone was seized from her.
Another police official said that after the current remand expires, they will produce her before a court and seek a further 10-day period of remand.
The Bangladesh Police’s detective team are now working on digging out her past. She is said to have came into contact with Amir Hossain Saddam, a Bangladeshi expatriate in Oman, via social media. Later she got married to Saddam, who is also a leader of the banned outfit, over phone.
Counterterrorism officials said Tasnim came to Bangladesh last October, after consultation with her husband and militancy guru, and continued her underground activities in association with Asmani Khatun.
Tasnim had also visited Bangladesh on an Indian passport more than once before.
On her visit to Bangladesh in 2016, she collected a NID card based on a fake birth certificate. Using the NID and with the support of the neo-JMB, she managed to secure jobs at various madrasas in the capital’s Keraniganj and Narayanganj’s Fatullah areas.
After Asmani Khatun was arrested in February, Tasnim left her job and went underground to keep herself safe from law enforcement agencies, but continued her militant activities.
Preliminary investigation by CTTC officials have found that Tasnim is said to have developed an interest in Islam through various online platforms while she was in the ninth grade in 2009. She converted to Islam soon after and began studying political Islam online.
During her online religious lessons, she got in touch with Asmani Khatun and from 2009 to 2016 was actively involved in neo JMB women’s wing.
Officials said that they may find more information after Tasnim and Asmani Khatun are interrogated jointly, and obtain more leads about other members of the neo-JMB they were in contact with, or had recruited.