Bangladesh arrests head of LeT bangla wing
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 17:58
Dhaka: A suspected top operative of Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist group was arrested in Bangladesh, the second such catch in less than a week, police said on Tuesday.

Maulana Mohammed Mansur Ali alias Maulana Habibullah, an Indian national, was active in Kashmir and has been the main organiser of LeT in Bangladesh, Deputy Commissioner of Detective Branch Monirul Islam told reporters.

He was arrested from Dakkhin Khan area in Dhaka yesterday after an intensive manhunt engaging police spies, Islam said.

The officer said in line with confessions of Mufti Obaidullah, a LeT-linked militant arrested last week and now in custody on a seven-day remand, police launched the manhunt and arrested Ali, who was working at a madrasah.

Both Obaidullah and Ali told the police that they were residents of West Bengal of India and entered Bangladesh in 1995 to evade arrest by Indian security forces.

Islam said like Obaidullah, Ali too was being chased by Indian security forces for their militant activities in Kashmir with the support of Pakistan-based LeT, which is also blamed for the Mumbai attacks. In initial interrogation, he said one of his brothers was killed in an encounter with Indian border guards.

Both of them were veterans of Afghan resistance against Soviet invasion, trained in operating heavy weapons, and were also linked to India's Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF) and Harkatul Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) of Bangladesh.

ARCF had claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack on the American Center in Kolkata in 2002.

"We are now investigating into the links between the militant outfits of the three countries and particularly the HuJI relations with the Pakistani and Indian extremist groups," the DCP said.

"We are interrogating Obaidulah for the fourth consecutive day and will seek a court order to bring Ali on remand tomorrow for interrogation," he said.

Ali was brought before the journalists for a brief photo session when he admitted his involvement in militant activities. He claimed that he is a bachelor's degree holder and a former employee of Indian Railways.

Police last week arrested Obaidullah following statements of Indian underworld operative Dawood Merchant, who belong to Dawood Ibrahim network and was nabbed earlier.

Security officials familiar with the terrorist network in the region said ARCF represents the growing nexus between organised crime and terrorism since it was raised in December 2001 along northwestern Bangla-India frontiers.

They said they tracked down Obaidullah as an investigation was underway to unearth the networks of Indian underworld dons Chhota Shakeel and Dawood Ibrahim in Bangladesh since the arrest of their several operatives including Dawdood Merchant in May.

Dhaka Police Commissioner A K M Shahidul Haque last week said police were trying to find Obaidullah's links with the Dawood network despite their apparent dissimilarities in terms of ideology or objectives.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 17:58

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