Police said Thursday they were interrogating a suspected commander and the alleged money man of a banned Islamic group blamed for bombings in Bangladesh, and a news report said one suspect admitted involvement in some of the attacks. They hope the men, both in their late 30s and captured Tuesday, will help authorities break up Jumatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, the group officials blame for blasts that have killed 22 people and wounded scores since the end of November.
"Those responsible for the bomb attacks will be put on trial. We are very serious about it," Junior Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babar told reporters Thursday. "Police are making progress in the investigation." Babar said he hoped the police interrogations will yield important information. Jumatul Mujahideen Bangladesh wants to establish strict Islamic rule in the Muslim-majority country of about 140 million people, governed by secular laws.
Security forces agents caught Ataur Rahman, the group's reputed military commander, in a raid late Tuesday at Tejgaon Polytechnic College in the capital, Dhaka, said Masuq Hassan Ahmed, a spokesman for the elite Rapid Action Battalion, which includes police and soldiers.
Rahman, also known as Sunny, was carrying about 45,000 takas (US$690; Ђ578) in cash and eight mobile phone SIM cards, and had apparently gone to the college to meet someone, Ahmed told reporters Wednesday. On Thursday, the United News of Bangladesh news agency reported that Rahman has confessed to the Metropolitan Magistrate court in Dhaka about his involvement in Aug.17 attacks, when more than 430 small homemade bombs exploded across the country.
However, he denied his "direct involvement" with subsequent suicide bombings, the agency said. "I am repentant of the incidents," the agency quoted an unidentified court official as saying Rahman had told the court magistrate that he is "repentant of the incidents" and would devote himself to "nation-building activities" if he is pardoned.
Agents also nabbed Fariduzzaman Swapan, who is believed to be an accountant for Jumatul Mujahideen, in a separate raid Tuesday. Ahmed said Swapan was being investigated for suspected money laundering because he maintains several bank accounts in his name. He denies any ties to the militants, informs the AP. N.U.