A week after Assam police busted a jihadi terror module being operated from a Madrasa, the administration today demolished the Jamiul Huda Madrasa in Marigaon today. The Madrasa was sealed last week after Mufti Mustafa, who was running it, was arrested for his links with Bangladesh-based terror outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team & AQIS (Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent).
The Madrasa was demolished under the Disaster Management Act & UAPA Act. According to the administration, the madrasa was built and operated without requisite permissions and was drawing electricity illegally. 43 students were studying at the Madrasa, and they have been admitted to different general schools with the cooperation of their parents.
Assam police in recent times have busted several jihadi terror modules in the state, with two modules busted on the same day last week, in Marigaon and Barpeta districts. Today Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma addressed a press conference to give a detailed account of what police have found in the ongoing probes on the issue, where he said that Assam has become a hotbed of Jihadi activities, with terror modules being set up in Madrasas.
The CM said that the jihadi activities in Assam have become an issue of grave concern, as several jihadi modules of Bangladeshi immigrants have been busted by the police. Based on information obtained by Assam police from this probe, police in other states also have busted several jihadi and terror modules.
Assam police had first busted a terror module in 1999, when a Harkat-ul-Mujahideen cell was nabbed. After that, modules of Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, Hizbul Mujahideen and Ansarullah Bangla Team have been busted by cops. At present Ansarullah Bangla Team, which is affiliated to Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, has been most active in the state. In the last six months, five modules of ABT have been caught in the state. These groups were busted based on intelligence inputs gathered by both Assam police and central agencies. It is notable that Ansarullah Bangla Team has been banned in Bangladesh for its terror activities.
In March this year, an ABT sleeper cell of six people was busted, including one Bangladeshi national named Md Suman. According to police, several Bangladeshi ABT members are active in Assam, each leading separate sleeper cells. Md Suman had entered India illegally via West Bengal in 2018, and was working as a teacher at a Madrasa, and also working as an Iman at a mosque in Barpeta district. He had also married a local woman from Chirang.
After the arrest of Md Suman, police gathered several incriminating documents, and it was found that he was working towards indoctrinating youths in Assam for demanding Sharia law in the state.
Following that, several more modules of ABT operating in different places in Assam have been busted by the police, most of them run by Illegal Bangladeshi Muslims but also including Indian nationals. Fundamental Jihadi literature in Bengali was recovered from all such modules. So far five modules have been busted in recent months.
However, Jamiul Huda Madrasa in Marigaon which was demolished was not just a Jihadi module, but it was sort of a local headquarter of the Jihadi operation in the state. Himanta Biswa Sarma revealed that Mufti Mustafa had contact with several ABT modules, and was working as a coordinator for them.
Mufti Mustafa has a doctorate Degree in Islamic law from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. Before the doctorate degree, he studied in Jamia Akkalkuwa or the Jamia Islamia Ishatul Uloom in Nandurbar district in Maharashtra, and Jamia Arabia Hathaura, Banda, Uttar Pradesh.
After completing his studies in Islamic law, Mustafa opened the Jamiul Huda Madrasa at Saharigaon in Marigaon after getting his share of his parental properties, but it was only a front for his Jihadi activities. He has been accused of maintaining contacts with ABT leaders in Bangladeshi, and providing shelter and logistical support to their members.
Mufti Mustafa used to give shelter to illegal Bangladeshi nations at his Madrasa after they entered Assam, and he had provisioned separate rooms in the institute for this purpose. CM Himanta Biswa Sarma said that he was also indoctrinating the students of his Madrasa also, as they were residential students, and he used to teach them jihadi literature at the night along with the members of ABT.
Mustafa helped several Bangladeshi nationals to get settled in India, and several of them found jobs at Madrasas and Mosques as teachers and Imams, while working as sleeper cell members of ABT.
The chief minister said that the ABT members use very sophisticated chat applications with peer-to-peer encryption to communicate with each other, which makes it very difficult to trace their online activities. The CM said that peer-to-peer encryption is more sophisticated than end-to-end encryption, and such apps are also used by Al Qaeda. They never use phone calls for ABT-related conversions, and often uninstall the chat apps after using them, removing all traces from their devices. Police also found a very high level of encryption in the electronic devices like laptops, phones, pen drives etc recovered from the modules.
Mutfi Mustafa had links with all the Jihadi modules busted in Assam and other states in recent months, and he had also links with the top leadership of Ansarullah Bangla Team. The ABT leadership used to send money to him via bank transfer, and he in turn used to distribute the money to ABT cells. The money was sent in small amounts, to avoid any suspicion.
The Assam CM said that all the Jihadi modules caught so far were operating from private Madrasas, and they flourished during the Covid-19 period as the administration was concentrated on the pandemic. They imparted training on operating guns and making bombs, apart from teaching jihadi literature.
Among the documents recovered from the Marigaon Madrasa include a letter from Al Qaeda on the occasion of Eid, and the book titled Kitab al-Jihad, which is the book of Jihad.
While making the revelations, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the busting of the Jihadi modules does not mean that Muslims in Assam as a whole support them, as many times it is the local Muslims who inform the police about suspected activities in Madrasas and Mosques. The CM appealed to the people to report any unknown Iman that arrives at their villages to the police, so that police can verify their backgrounds. He also said that while the Assam govt has closed the govt run Madrasas, there are still a large number of Qawmi Madrasas or privately run madrasas, and not all of them are linked to Jihadi activities. However, action will be taken against any Madrasa if any link with Jihadi groups is found.
The CM also requested the peace-loving Muslims to keep an eye on Madrasas and Mosques in their areas, and inform police about any suspected activities or any new teacher or imam.
CM Himanta Biswa Sarma also informed that the goal of the ABT in Assam at present is not terror attacks, but to indoctrinate a large number of Muslims in the state. The organisation plans to indoctrinate such a large number of people that they will be able to start a movement against the govt demanding a Sharia state. After a large number of people are onboard, they will start terror activities in support of their goals.
The CM said that Assam has become a hotbed of Jihad activities, and along with arrested Md Suman, five other Bangladeshis had entered Assam who are absconding. It is not known how many modules they have formed, but the number will be big as the police have busted 5 modules in a short period of time.
Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the objective of the press conference was to appeal to the Muslim population in the state to cooperate with police in exposing the jihadi plans of terror groups. He hoped that after he presented the facts of the Bangladesh based terror modules, local Muslims will help the administration. He also added that already Muslim citizens are giving valuable inputs which have helped in busting the Jihad modules.