The crackdown against Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) started in India with the arrest of a prominent Bangladeshi leader of the terrorist organization by Assam Police in March 2022.
Highly placed sources informed that the arrest was a result of several months of intelligence operation run by Assam Police going back to at least September 2021. Subsequently, there have been more than 50 arrests all across the country.
The latest of these was by Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) last month where five AQIS operatives from Bangladesh were arrested.
One Ikramul Haque alias Abu Talha, who was arrested from the Sabuj Bagh area of the capital Dhaka, was India's 'most wanted militant'. After his arrest on May 30, Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) officials came to know that Abu Talha, the top leader of the Dawah wing of the international terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), got involved in militancy while studying in Deoband under Saharanpur district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. After being chased by the Indian law and order forces, he escaped to his native country. Abu Talha also fraudulently obtained Indian citizenship in the name of himself and his wife Faria Afrin Anikar. Indian Aadhaar cards and passports were also found in their names.
As quoted by the Bangla Tribune, the Head of CTTC of Dhaka and Additional Commissioner of DMP Asad Uz Zaman said that Ikramul Haque alias Abu Talha is the top leader of AQIS. There are at least 10 cases against him in India.
He was most wanted by Indian law enforcement agencies. Recently, after some Bangladeshis were arrested as members of AQIS in Gujarat, they also named Abu Talha as a recruiter. Abu Talha along with his wife was arrested in a raid recently.
Officers of Counter Terrorism Unit has told that Ikramul Haque alias Abu Talha is a resident of Mymensingh, Bangladesh. He studied Hadith from a Madrasa in Dhanmondi area of the capital and Faridabad Madrasa in Sutrapur. In 2018, he went for higher studies in Deoband, India where he got indulged and joined Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) while studying at Deoband.
According to CTTC sources, Abu Talha is very talented. He stood first in the country in HIFZ examination under BEFAQ in 2007. Besides Bengali, he is proficient in three other languages - Urdu, Arabic and English. Besides, within a few days, one becomes proficient in Information Technology. That is why he was nominated as the top leader of the Dawah wing within a few days after his involvement with AQIS. He used to take online Dawah classes regularly for AQIS members.
CTTC officials said that many Bangladeshi militants have been arrested in the ongoing operations launched by law and order forces against militancy in India. In their interrogation, it is revealed the name of top leader Abu Talha as the recruiter. Since then, the Indian law and order forces have been trying to arrest Abu Talha. But Talha crossed the border to Bangladesh with his wife and children about seven months ago due to the raids by the Indian law and order forces.
According to sources, in October 2022, the Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested eight AQIS members from Bhopal in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Some of the militants arrested at that time were Bangladeshi nationals. During interrogation, they identified Inamul Haque alias Abu Talha as their top leader to Indian law enforcement agencies. On May 24 of this year 2023, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested 4 more AQIS members from Gujarat, India. All four of them were Bangladeshi citizens. During interrogation they gave information to Indian Law Enforcement Agencies about Ikramul Haque alias Abu Talha as their recruiter.
According to sources, during interrogation held by the Gujarat police, one Bangladeshi citizens was arrested named Sajeeb and said that, they got involved with AQIS through Abu Talha. Their team leader Talha was earlier based in India. For security reasons, he (Abu Tallah) returned to Bangladesh and was giving encrypted organizational instructions. Based on the information given by Sajeeb and his associates, raids were carried out at Sabuj Bagh area of Dhaka and arrested Abu Tallah along with his wife Anika
CTTC officials said that they got information about Abu Talha after arresting a militant named Khaled Saifullah from Narayanganj in 2011. Abu Talha was the then known as MAULANA SABET in the militant group. Khaled Saifullah then informed the Counter Terrorism Unit officials that Maulana Sabet was the top leader of AQIS. He regularly trained and recruited members for AQIS in India and Bangladesh by being in India.
An official of CTTC said, after the arrest of Abu Talha, we showed his picture to Khaled Saifullah. Khaled Saifullah identified him as Maulana Sabet. Even after release on bail, Khaled Saifullah is under regular surveillance by CTTC.
According to CTTC sources, first Talha went to India on a tourist visa and was admitted in Deoband, but later he collected an Indian Aadhaar card in the name of Noor Hossain. Later, he also got an Indian passport in that name wherein the father's name was Sabu Mia and mother's name was Nabia Begum in his passport and Aadhaar card. The address is Madankura Village, Singhimari, Cooch Behar, India. He also created Aadhaar card in the name of his wife Faria Afrin Anika. Anika's name was given there as Maryam Khatun, and her father's name was Nanu Mia.
During his arrest interrogation, Abu Talha said that he got involved with AQIS through a person named Aman while studying in Madrasa in Deoband. In the organizational work of AQIS, he has visited and stayed at different areas of India including Cooch Behar, Bhopal, Assam, Delhi. He was imparting online and offline classes & lesson to the newly recruited members of AQIS.
As quoted by the Bangla Tribune, Counter Terrorism Unit Deputy Commissioner, SM Nazmul Haque said that Ikramul Haque alias Abu Talha has given a confessional statement in court. We got a lot of sensitive information through forensic examination of his mobile and laptop, in addition to verifying this information, conducting operations to arrest his other associates.
According to CTTC sources, all the conversations and communications that Ikramul alias Abu Talha used to communicate through the encrypted app have been revealed through forensic tests. Information about his contact with many top leaders of India and abroad, including the recent former head of AQIS, Wasim Omar, has been found. His contact information was also found with Maulana Osman Ghani and Sheikh Tamim Al Adnani, one of the top leaders and spiritual leaders of Ansar Al Islam, (militant organization in Bangladesh). He also served as a liaison between the leaders of Ansar al-Islam and the top leaders of AQIS.