The spiritual leader of Al-Qaeda-inspired militant outfit Ansar Al Islam had connections with Qawmi madrasa-based organisation Hefajat-e-Islam, said counterterrorism officials.
Ali Hasan Osama, 27, who was arrested by Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit from Rajbari on May 6, took his oath from a top Hefajat leader. The investigators have also got a photo of the oath-taking event, they said.
Osama is now on a five-day remand in CTTC custody.
Saiful Islam, deputy commissioner of CTTC unit, said, "We have some information about the connections between Hefajat leaders and Osama.
"We also got some digital devices and communication … from Osama. These have been sent for forensic analysis. We may say more after getting the forensic report," he told The Daily Star yesterday.
Besides the Ansar Al Islam, investigators also claimed to have found some other militant outfits linked to Hefajat, including Harkat-ul-Jihad (Huji).
According to an intelligence report obtained by this newspaper, at least eight Huji leaders held posts in the 249-member Hefajat committee that had recently been dissolved.
Mahbub Alam, joint commissioner of DB police, said, "In our investigation, we have got evidence of Hefajat's links with militant outfits."
Police officials added that they have also found "close contacts" between a Pakistani militant outfit and Hefajat former joint secretary general Mamunul Haque.
On April 25, while addressing reporters, Harun-Or Rashid, deputy commissioner of Tejgaon (division) police, disclosed the findings.
Harun said Mamunul and his brother-in-law Niamatullah visited Pakistan in 2005 and stayed there for around 45 days.
A CTTC official said a close relative of Mamunul is still in Pakistan and the relative maintains close connections with the militant outfit in the country.
The official, requesting anonymity, said, "We have also discovered a suspicious transaction of around Tk 6 crore in Mamunul's account and a significant portion of that money came from Dubai."
Regarding Mamunul's links with the Pakistani militant outfit, Md Asaduzzaman, the CTTC unit head, on Sunday said, "We have come to know that Mamunul Haque had militant links. We are working on it and he would be interrogated on the issue."
However, Zafarullah Khan, nayeb-e-ameer of the now defunct Hefajat committee, told this correspondent yesterday that "Hefajat did not have any connection with any militant outfits."
"We do not believe in any kind of jihad. The country's people believe in democracy, so there is no need for jihad," he added.
CTTC officials said arrested Ansar Al Islam leader Osama had a close contact with a group of militants in India.
Osama visited India several times and held meetings with the militants hiding in the neighbouring country, a CTTC official, involved in interrogation, told this paper.
One of his close associates in India -- Nazibullah -- was arrested by the Special Task Force in India for his alleged militant links in December last year, said the official, wishing not to be named.
"We have so far found that around 10 people hiding in India had links with Osama," said the official, adding that Osama is also believed to have connections with Al Imran, the head of Ansar Al Islam.
DC Saiful said Osama was giving misleading information during interrogation. "But we have got some information and we are now analysing it," he added.
CTTC officials are also quizzing Al Sakib, 22, a member of Ansar Al Islam, who is on a five-day remand. Sakib was arrested in the capital on May 5. Sakib was inspired into militant activities and he plotted to create anarchy in the country listening to Osama's speech, they said.
ROKOMARI UNDER WATCH
CTTC officials said Osama has written 40 to 50 books, some of which have instigating speeches and contents inspiring people to militancy.
The online platform, rokomari.com, was allegedly selling those books, which are instigating militancy, they added.
"We have got some other writers' books on the online platform, which are instigating militancy. We have kept the online platform under surveillance and we may interrogate the responsible person," said DC Saiful.
Asked about it, Mahmudul Hasan Sohag, chief executive of the platform, told this paper that Rokomari is an online platform, where any publishers and writers can post their books after opening an account.
"We have no relations with any of the books," he said.
"We only take action and form a team to scrutinise the books whenever a controversy arises. We have removed a number of books earlier," said Sohag.
Regarding the books on militancy, Sohag said, "We had no idea about it, but we removed all the books soon after we learnt about it. There are over two lakh writers' books on the platform and we have no idea whether there are any other such books."
He further requested people to provide them information if anyone has information about any books instigating militancy, so that they can take action.