Top terrors control crime, extortion from jail

Md Mahbubul Haque, a resident of Motijheel AGB Colony received a phone call at 10:30pm on 13 March. The caller identified himself as Faruque. While Mahbubul asked ‘which Faruque’, the caller replied, “Which Faruque do you know? I will come out one day. Mind what you are doing.”

It was learnt later that Faruque is the expelled general secretary of ward no 10 unit Awami League. Alongside top terror Jafar Ahmed (Manik) and Jishan Ahmed, Omar Faruque is also among the accused in the case over killing of Awami League leader Jahidul Islam (Tipu) in Motijheel. Faruque is now in jail. A source from law enforcers confirmed to Prothom Alo that the call on that night was made from the East Enayetpur area of Kashimpur in Gazipur. The Kashimpur high security jail is located in this area.

Mahbubul filed a general diary (GD) with Motijheel police station over this threat. He is a contractor of development work in Motijheel area. He became silent when asked about the threat he had received on a phone call. Mahbubul refused to make any comment on it.

It is nothing new that the incarcerated criminals call various people to intimidate them from prison. The law enforcers at different times disclosed in press briefings that the criminals make various plans to retain their control of the crime world while in jail.

At least seven top terrors of Dhaka are in jail. They are Sheikh Mohammad Aslam alias Sweden Aslam, Sanjidul Islam alias Imon, Imamul Hasan alias Picchi Helal, Khandkar Naeem Ahmed alias Titon, Sohel Rana Chowdhury alias Freedom Sohel, Md Abbas Ali alias Killer Abbas and Khorshed Alam alias Rasu.

Sources said alongside calls from prisons many top criminals make calls and threaten people from the mobile phones of their associates while they come to the court for hearing.

Sources said alongside calls from prisons many top criminals make calls and threaten people from the mobile phones of their associates while they come to the court for hearing. They prefer calling by various apps to calling directly from a mobile network. Most of these incidents of issuing warnings by top terrors go uninvestigated as the victims don’t usually file any case, GD or complaint.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s (DMP) additional commissioner (crime and operations) Kh. Mohid Uddin talked about the top terrors controlling the underworld from the prison.

He told Prothom Alo, “It cannot be said that such incidents are totally unfounded. Sometimes the criminals make some kind of a unity or understanding among themselves from prison. After getting bail, they come out and turn to crime again. However, the matters inside the prison are not under our jurisdiction.”

Incarcerated Abbas’ reign of terror in Mirpur

Top terror Md Abbas Ali, known to police as Killer Abbas, has been in jail for around two decades.

Law enforcers and local sources said although in jail, Abbas still exerted influence in the crime world of Kafrul, Ibrahimpur, Bhasantek and Cantonment areas. He especially collects toll from development work at Dhaka Dental College and Hospital and Government Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital and from contractors of equipment supply. He also collects toll from construction work, jhut (waste cloth) business, contracts, and connection of TV cable and internet business. Hamida Enterprise, named after his wife Hamida, got lease of the cattle market of Eid ul Fitr in Kachukhet Bazar last year.

A woman named Helena Akter was tortured for failing to pay tolls to Abbas’ associates. This correspondent talked with the woman on 14 May. The woman used to sell snacks in garments and later started the jhut business and trade of discarded equipment. Abbas’ cohorts started harassing and intimidating Helena since then. She filed several cases and GDs over these incidents.

Killer Abbas’ men once looted goods worth Tk 10,00,000 to 15,00,000 from me by brandishing weapons. They demanded Tk 3 million more around one and half years ago. As I didn’t pay the toll, his men attacked me in front of AG Fashion in Mirpur-14 within one month. They attacked me again a week later and are still threatening me,” Helena said.

A person with knowledge about Abbas told Prothom Alo on condition of anonymity that Abbas can avail various facilities including using a phone with internet connection inside the prison. It is suspected that he contacts his associates and family members while going to court for hearing from the prison.

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This correspondent tried to contact the prison authorities for comment as to how the top terrors can control the underworld from prison, how they can use phones to threaten people for tolls and can contact with associates and family members while being transported to and from the court.

Inspector general of prison, additional inspector general of prison, deputy inspector general of headquarters, deputy inspector general of prison (Dhaka) and senior jailer of Kashimpur high security prison were contacted over phone and text message repeatedly for comments, but none of them responded.

Picchi Helal's activities continue from jail

Imamul Hasan alias Picchi Helal is accused in around 12 murder cases. Local sources said Picchi Helal came to limelight in 1993 after killing actor Khalil Ullah Khan’s son Babu in Mohammadpur. He was pitted against Tofail Ahmed (Joseph), another enlisted top terror of that time. Helal was arrested on 12 January in 2000.

Although Helal is in jail for a long time, his associates are active. Locals in Mohammadpur area hold human chains and press briefings several times in the last year against Helal. Victims said Helal’s men are involved with collecting tolls from the transport sector, businesses and construction sites and land grabbing. RAB arrested at least five associates of Helal over several such incidents. Although Helal was in jail, the law enforcers found his involvement with the murder of then ward commissioner KM Ahmed Raju on 1 October in 2001. His name also appeared in Tasir Uddin murder in Mohammadpur.

Emon still evokes fear in Hazaribagh

Many people from Hazaribagh said they face threats from criminals during construction work, doing business and contract work. The name of incarcerated Sanjidul Islam alias Emon can be heard most with these crimes. He is also known as Captain Emon in the underworld.

Emon is accused in cases of murder of actor Sohel Chowdhury and former army chief Aziz Ahmed’s brother Sayeed Ahmed alias Tipu. He fled the country in 2005. Kolkata police handed him over to Bangladesh police on 7 March in 2008. He has been in jail since then. His associates are active in Hazaribagh and adjacent areas.

Some residents of Hazaribagh told Prothom Alo on condition of anonymity that Emon’s associates create fear with motorbike convoys in the streets on different occasions. They become most active in extortion before Eid.

Nur Mohammad, officer in charge (OC) of Hazaribagh police station, told Prothom Alo, “After joining this thana, I heard about calls being made in the name of captain Emon. But none came to the police station with any complain.”

On 18 September last year, top terror Tarique Sayeed was shot in Tejgaon after he was freed on bail. The bullet missed the target and a lawyer named Bhuban Chandra Shill was killed. Later police investigation revealed that top terror Emon had his former friend Mamun shot over conflict of interest. Mamun was sent to prison on 15 May during a court hearing.

The name of Emon also appeared in the killing of Jubo Dal’s ward no. 48 president Afzal Hossain in 2013.

Communication between terrorists aboard and in jail

An investigation found there is a contact between terrorists who live in foreign countries aboard and those who are behind bars. While investigating, law enforcement agencies found that terrorists came to consensus and carried out several killings in Dhaka by their associates.

Seven people were arrested from Badda of Dhaka and Bandarban on extortion charges two years ago. Detective polices learned during investigation that these accused maintained a contact with top terrorist Zishan Ahmed regularly. They also had connection to Manun from Badda, a death row convict of a four-murder case in 2006. Besides, Zishan currently in aboard also maintained contact with Mamun who is behind bars now.

Law enforcement agencies seized phones conversations on issuing threats at various times. Sometimes, jail authorities searched the cells of the terrorists once they noticed it. As a result, terrorists currently behind bars have become discreet in using their words to threat someone or collect extortions.

Coded conversations

Law enforcement agencies seized phones conversations on issuing threats at various times. Sometimes, jail authorities searched the cells of the terrorists once they noticed it. As a result, terrorists currently behind bars have become discreet in using their words to threat someone or collect extortions.

A source of law enforcement agencies provided Prothom Alo with a phone call conversation from a prison, which was recorded before Ramadan this year. In the conversation, a terrorist was heard telling a contractor from Motijheel, “Ramadan has arrived. We need to shop. Have it managed yet?”

A businessperson from Mohammadpur shared his horrific experiences on paying extortion to two terrorists. The businessperson said most of the time terrorists sent people after making a call and they never say a name; they say their people will meet us. Sometimes, terrorist say someone will pay us a courtesy call; the businessperson then understand they are talking about extortion.

No trace of callers

Prothom Alo investigated 12 allegations and general diaries filed with various police stations in Dhaka over the last two years. An analysis on carried out on 10 phone numbers that terrorists used to threaten people at various times. These phone numbers are: +971545437198, +52940, +66968507657, +60163464247, +555877, +92972823 and +882391.

The remaining three ones are Bangladeshi numbers; which are no longer used. A source of the law enforcement agencies none of persons registered with those numbers has any knowledge about the matter.

This correspondent spoke to two senior law enforcement agency officials to learn about the other seven phone numbers. They said these are not any regular foreign numbers. Callers used these numbers using internet to hide their real identity, making it difficult to trace actual identification and location.

Many want to stay behind bars

According to several sources of Dhaka underworld and law enforcement agencies, witnesses do not give statement before the court in most of the cases against the notorious terrorists, and for this reason many terrorists were not tried at the end. Many top terrorists also consider prison as a safe haven as they might be arrested again or come under attack of the rivals once they walk out of prison. As a result, many of them do not seek bail in all case at once. If some of them get bail in many cases they do not seek bail in one or case at all.

Md Tawohidul Haque is a crime export and associate professor at Institute of Social Welfare and Research, Dhaka University, spoke about the terrorists controlling crime word from prisons. He told Prothom Alo, “Several top terrorists enjoy many privileges including access to phones in prisons and they control the outside crime world. Someone must be enjoying financial gains and providing these facilities to the terrorists.”

The situation will not change unless the concerned people in the prisons give up illegal transactions, he added.