He has also set up two militant hideouts at Lama and Khagrachhari in Bandarban. There are 20 to 25 active members in this group.

Preferring not to be named, a senior intelligence official involved in the surveillance of militant activities told Prothom Alo that Mahmudul Hassan Gunbi is currently the spiritual leader of Ansar al-Islam. By playing tricks, he is using an organisation named Dawatul Islam as a shield.

He is spreading his extremist views and activities of Ansar al-Islam in some places in the char areas in the northern part of the county in the name of activities of Dawatul Islam. Ansar al-Islam claims them a branch of Al-Qaeda in the Indian sub-continent.

Several sources of law enforcement agencies said Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi is also acting as the key figure of another extremist group named “Manhazi”.

Three people including Gunbi are the key figures of this militant outfit. The other two are – Harun Izhar and Ali Hasan Osama. They are in prison at the moment. The members of Manhazi also follow the ideology of Al-Qaeda. This militant group is also using Hefazat-e-Islam as a shield.

The members of Manhazi were organised under the name of Hefazat-e-Islam. The law enforcement agencies got this information during the interrogation of the arrested persons.

Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi also uses the name of Hefazat-e-Islam as a shield by keeping a close relation with the leaders. There are many pictures of Gunbi with the leaders of Hefazat on social media.

When asked about this, Hefazat secretary general Nurul Islam Zihadi told Prothom Alo, “Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi does not hold any post or he is not in any committee of Hefazat-e-Islam. His speeches contain anti-NGO views, especially in the hill areas. A converted Muslim named Omar Faruq has been killed recently. Omar Faruq was converted to Islam by Gunbi.”

According to sources involved in the anti-militant activities, Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi is the ameer of Dawatul Islam at the moment. Before him, Nazimuddin was the ameer of this organisation. Earlier, four members of Dawatul Islam were arrested on the allegations of being involved in the militant activities. They are – Saiful Islam, Abdul Hamid, Anisur Rahman and Hasan.

Police arrested Gunbi’s close friend Ali Hasan alias Osama from Rajbari in May. Several other members of Ansar al-Islam were also arrested with him on the allegations of plotting an attack in the parliament.

Mahmudul Hasan Gunbi’s affiliation with Ansar al-Islam was revealed during the interrogation of the arrested persons. Gunbi was shown as a fugitive in the case filed with the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar on the allegations of plotting an attack in the parliament. Gunbi has been on the run since then.

The law enforcement agencies even conducted drives in the hills in phases after getting the information that Gunbi is hiding in the deep forest in the hills.

When asked about Dawatul Islam and Mahmudul Gunbi, commander Khandoker Al Moeen, director of Rapid Action Battalion’s (RAB) legal and media wing, told Prothom Alo on Tuesday that Ansar al-Islam militants, who have been arrested at different times, have named Dawatul Islam during interrogation. It is learned that the organisation is involved in extremist activities.

He further said, “We have some information about Gunbi too. The arrested members of Ansar al-Islam have said during the interrogation that he is conducting militant activities in the name of spreading extremist views. So we are also looking for him like the other law enforcement agencies.”

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