The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Terror network widens

Guwahati, Nov. 2: The Bangladeshi jihadi group responsible for the serial blasts in that country in August last year has made inroads into the Northeast, Assam police chief D.N. Dutt revealed today.

Dutt said the Jamatul Mujahideen, one of two radical groups banned by Bangla-desh last year, was co-ordinating the activities of all jihadi groups operating in the region with the help of foreign agencies.

The disclosure capped two days of brainstorming on security strategies by top police officials of the seven states of the Northeast, Sikkim and West Bengal. The annual conference focused on the “export of fundamentalism/terrorism to the region” and the role of foreign agencies in the growing terror network.

Stressing the need for an effective mechanism to share intelligence “in real time”, the conference decided to recommend the constitution of a national-level standing committee on terrorism, militancy and insurgency. The suggestion will be fleshed out during a meeting of directors-general and inspectors-general of police from across the country later this month.

A senior police official said jihadi groups were looking at the region not only as their playground but also as a corridor to other parts of the country. “The threat (from these groups) is not only to the region,” he said, underscoring the need for a broad-based security strategy.

IGP (Special Branch) Khagen Sarma said jihadi groups may have surfaced in Assam way back in 1994 but became active only after 2001, when many Bangladeshi recruits deployed in Afghanistan were forced to flee that country. The modus operandi of these groups is to attack economic installations and soft targets like the civilian population.

Intelligence reports about jihadis sneaking in from Bangladesh were confirmed when customs personnel in Bengal arrested Badrul Alam, a suspected Pakistani national with a Bangladesh passport, while he was trying to cross the international border in Malda in August. Assam police apprehended another militant, Habibul Rahman, in Rangia.

According to police reco-rds, as many as 198 jihadis have been arrested and 56 more have surrendered in Assam since 2001.

“With the Jamatul Mujahideen now taking control of jihadi operations in the region, the threat from such groups is more potent than ever before,” Sarma said.

Apart from pushing mercenaries into the region, the Jamatul Mujahideen has reportedly been recruiting youths in both Lower and Upper Assam.

Some jihadi groups are using madarsas as a cover for their activities. “Madarsa committees may not be directly involved but these elements do use religious institutions as cover,” Sarma said.

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