BENGALURU: Two men — allegedly belonging to terror outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) — arrested in Bengaluru in August have revealed during interrogation by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) that they carried out robberies in jewellery shops in Bengaluru and a few other neighbouring cities while they were on the run after planting bombs in Bodh Gaya.
Zahidul-Islam alias Qausar and Adil alias Asadillah were arrested by the NIA in Bengaluru.
They were on the run after planting three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at the Mahabodhi temple when the Dalai Lama was visiting the shrine in January. The devices, however, were found by security personnel. The duo was also wanted in the October 2014 blast in Burdwan in West Bengal.
“During interrogation, we learnt how Qausar hit upon the idea of robbing to fund their jihad. Funds from the erstwhile organisation were drying up because of ideological differences and pressure from the Bangladesh government. So, with no other option, the outfit favoured the idea of loot to fund terror activities,” an NIA official told TNIE. It is said that the JMB operatives carried out at least three robberies in jewelery stores in the city. “We have informed the Karnataka police about the robberies. The crimes were committed from March onwards,” the official said.
It is also suspected that there might be a few more people from the outfit in different parts of Karnataka as revealed by terrorists from the same outfit who were arrested recently by the Kolkata ATF. Investigators said that the robberies were carried out under direct orders of the organisation’s leader one Mizan. Three jewellery shops were burgled and there were many more in the pipeline. However, the arrest of two others of the outfit in Kerala, jeopardised the plan. “The banned outfit lately has been gathering strength through collecting funds mainly by robberies and burglaries,” an official said.
Qausar was first arrested in Bangladesh on May 14, 2009, and remained in prison till February 23, 2014, when his associates managed to engineer his escape while he was being taken to Mymensingh from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Within one month, he managed to flee to India and has remained here since then, another NIA official said.
Officials said it was not the first time that jihadists fell back on robberies to achieve their goals. A group of Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) operatives in Madhya Pradesh looted gold from the branches of a loan company to buy a flat in Jharkhand to use it as their hideout. A Kolkata-based shoe baron was kidnapped by a group of jihadists who later attacked the American Centre in Kolkata in 2002.