A fake national ID card submitted by a terror suspect to his landlord led to the discovery of two ‘militant hideouts’ at Chittagong’s Sitakunda.
‘Jashim’, who was arrested with his wife ‘Arjina’ from a house at Namar Bazar on Wednesday, claimed to be a cloth trader when he rented the lower-storey flat on Feb 27.
“The two are members of the JMB (Jama’atul Islam Mujahideen). We found suicide vests, pistols and a lot of raw ingredients for making bombs in the flat,” said Mohang Shafikul Islam, police deputy inspector general at Chittagong range.
Subhash Chandra Das owns ‘Sadhan Kutir’, the building they lived in. It has six flats, three on every floor, he said.
Suspect Jashim had called him, identifying himself as a cloth trader, to rent the flat for a monthly rent of Tk 6,500, reports bdnews24.com.
Das said he asked for a copy of his new tenant’s national ID and received it on Mar 2.
“That day he requested me to allow two of his so-called brothers to move into the house before his family arrives on Mar 12. I refused and said they should move in with the rest of their family.”
The copy of the national ID he got said Jashim was a resident of Ramu, Cox’s Bazar. Their belongings would arrive from there, the suspect had told Das.
But the driver of the rickshaw van that brought their belongings to ‘Sadhan Kutir’ told Das they were moving them from a house at Premtala, the neighbouring ward in the municipal town.
“I began suspecting them. I told my wife to keep an eye on them.”
On Mar 12, Jashim moved in with a family. They would keep the doors and windows shut most of the time, said Das’s wife Chhabi Rani Das.
They would also have visitors at night, she added.
“I saw two men in their bedroom when I went in on Sunday. They said they were Jashim’s brother,” said Das.
“I removed a cloth that was covering something. There were many power circuits and a round metal object under that cover,” he said.
Jashim then claimed he used them for business because, besides cloths, he also sold lights.
“I took a sample from him and showed it to a mechanic. He said those were time cards that are used in refrigerators and for remote access,” said the landlord.
On Wednesday, he took Jashim’s NID copy to get it checked at a computer store in town.
“The computer shop owner checked the card’s information online. He said the ID number belonged to another person. Not anyone called Jashim.”
Das then took two friends and his wife to the flat and asked them to leave immediately.
“They kept refusing to go. There was a suitcase under a cot in one of the rooms. I pulled it out and found a pair of rubber boots. I saw a pistol inside them. Our neighbours came running when I began to scream.”
Police arrived, hearing of the scuffle that began inside the flat, he said.
“Seeing them, Arjina had put her hand on her waist. It was later found that she was wearing a special kind of belt. Police removed it from her.”
“The woman was wearing a suicide belt. We took it from her,” said Sitakunda police inspector Mahbub Milky.
The couple has a three-month-old child who was now in police custody, he said.
The two men who Jashim said were his brother were not in the house at the time of the raid, police said.
The information divulged by the couple has led to another raid on a house called Chhayaneer at Premtala.