The way Jamaatul Ansar joined KNF

A screen grab from a video shows Jama'atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya military commander Shibbir Ahmed alias Hamid Karche wielding a firearm while Milon Talukdar (first from left), Saleh Ahmed (second from left) and Md Didar (right) are also seen.

The new militant organisation Jamaatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya has come into limelight once again after a video of their members training under the supervision of armed group Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) in their camps in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) went viral.

Simultaneously questions have come to the fore as to how members of pro-Al-Qaeda extremist group formed relations with different ethnic groups, and how one group accepted another group.

Analysing information from sources, it is learnt Jamaatul Ansar had a strategic target to build up a safe den and training in the hills. Cooperation from any groups in the hill is required for this and so they built up relations with the armed group Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) in the hill. A written agreement was signed between two organisations in 2021.  

It is learnt KNF members are mainly from the Bom ethnic community. Jamaatul Ansar leaders wanted to sign an agreement with Bom leaders. The militant leaders explained the training and shelter under KNF, citing an example from Islamic history. A group of Muslims migrated to Abyssinia (currently Ethiopia) in the fifth year of the Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (SM) receiving prophethood.  Hazrat Uthman (R) was among them. This is called the first migration in Islam. At the time, Abyssinia's Christian King Najashi provided shelter to the Muslims. As the Bom community is Christian, the militant leaders took the shelter under KNF law.

Meanwhile, questions have also come to the fore as to why KNF provided shelter to a different religious group. As per information available, increasing manpower or strength was more important than the financial matters. Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (JSS) is the main opponent of KNF which came up for discussion in the beginning of last year. There were clashes between them.

Interrogating recently arrested KNF members, the law enforcing agency members came to know KNF chief Nathan Bom has thought if the religious militant group is provided shelter, they along with KNF will fight their (KNF) opponents. Jamaatul Ansar member Mohammad Abdur Rahman alias Zahir was killed in June 2022 while he was fighting in favour of KNF. Noakhali resident Nizam Uddin alias Hiron, who fled home with Zahir for going to militant den in the hill, was recently arrested. The law enforcement agency came to know about the death of Zahir from Nizam Uddin.

The militants, who went to the hills, have been given different names by KNF. That is in the style of Bom. They were called by that name there. For example, notorious Shibbir Ahmed, who was seen in the video of training, his name is 'Karche'. Milon Talukder is called 'Lamjol'. Imran is called 'Saitol'. Like this, 55 people have received training in three batches, everyone has a Bom name. This is being considered as a strategy in using the militants to fight against the opponents in the hill.

Concerned officials of the law enforcing agencies said Jamaatul Ansar had a written agreement with KNF for training. As per agreement, Jamaatul Ansar would give Tk 300,000 every month for providing shelter and training. Besides, KNF has 150 members. Jamaatul Ansar would bear the cost of their foot. The training started in November 2021 and the agreement was till 2023.

An official involved in investigation and interrogation of arrested members said Jamaatul Ansar established relations with Nathan Bom through Jamaatul's Ansar's chief advisor Shamin Mahfuz. Shamin Mahfuz alias Manring Morong was arrested from Dhaka in 2014. At the time police told the media that an attempt was made to build a training camp for militants after taking land from Thanchi of Bandarban. Later, after getting bail, Shamin became involved in establishing a new militant organisation.

A total of 55 Jamaatul Ansar members have taken training in three batches in KNF camp.

These members were under supervision of KNF chief Nathan Bom, their military commander Vangchung Lian Bwam, media wing chief so called Lieutenant colonel Laljong Mui Mawaia and so called Lieutenant colonel Moon Tial chir Chir Moy. Some of those who received training there have already been arrested by RAB.

RAB sources said this information has been gleaned from them and arrested KNF members.

Although Jamaatul Ansar took training through KNF arms and in their camp, later the militant organisation bought some arms from them. The arms include AK-22 rifles and 15 shotguns and some other guns. There were symbolic numbers and marks so that the arms can be identified. That was also seen in the video of training of militants.

Moreover, the uniforms the Jamaatul Ansar wore during the training were made by the militants. They have two tailors in their group. The identity of one is Didar, from Cumilla. KNF and Jamaatul Ansar militants stayed for one year in the hills and also ate together.

When asked how these two different groups stayed together, RAB intelligence wing chief Lieutenant colonel Mashiur Rahman said this militant group wanted to establish a safe den in the remote hills. For this they chose the armed group KNF. KNF members are Christians.

Jamaatul Ansar cited an example of a group of Muslims' migration from Makkah to Abyssinia during the period of Prophet Hazrat (MS) to establish their stance to take KNF as their ally. However, in that situation Muslims migrated from Makkah to Abyssinia, but that situation does not exist now.