How a dream to study abroad became a dream of jihad

Written by Amanur Rahman | Published on: August 14, 2017

In the confessional statement given to Dhaka Metropolitan Judge Md Golam Nabi on April 1, Ferdous described how he got involved with militancy

Following the terror attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery last year, law enforcement agencies have conducted a number of raids across Bangladesh where various militant leaders were captured or killed RAJIB DHAR
Suspected militant Ferdous Ahmed, a follower of New JMB’s mastermind Sarwar-Tamim, made a failed attempt to flee to Syria a few months ago. Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) members arrested him before he could flee. He was shown arrest in an Anti-Terrorism Act case filed with Badda police station on March 21.

In the confessional statement given to Dhaka Metropolitan Judge Md Golam Nabi on April 1, Ferdous described how he got involved with militancy.

Ferdous, son of the managing director of Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank, appeared for Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations in 2003 and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) in 2005 from Syedpur Cantonment Public School and College.

While giving the statement, he said: “I moved to Dhaka to take coaching in university admissions tests in 2005 and got enrolled in BSC at Daffodil International University in 2007 as I did not get a chance in a public university.”

Ferdous said he started praying five times a day and joined Tablig after joining the university.

Talking about his friend Anwarul Elom, he said: “I frequently visited him at Buet and asked him to join Tablig.

Anwarul agreed to join Tablig. One day we meet Wali Zaman after praying at the university’s Titumir Hall.

“I told Wali that Anwarul studies in Chemical Engineering and was interested in joining Tablig. Wali took us on a three-day Chilla [pilgrimage], along with some other students from Buet.”

He said they went to Jamaat Kalabagan Lake Circus Mosque and from there the journey of their friendship began.

The suspected militant said they only went to Talig once together but they remained in contact with each other.

Ferdous said: “I went to Chilla [pilgrimage] after completing my education in 2011 and started looking for a job after returning to Dhaka, but I could not find one. In 2012, Anwarul came to me and asked me to leave Tablig. He said Talig was a derailed party.

“He suggested that I listen to Jashim Uddin Rahmani’s lecture. Anwarul got mad when I told him that I will listen to only the Aleems of Talib. He stopped all contact with me.”

According to Ferdous, he came to know a senior member of Tablig named Amin Beg through Facebook in 2014.

Amin was a frequent writer on Facebook and Ferdous often had conversations with him on the social networking site.

While seeking Amin’s help to get a job, Ferdous got a chance at Ilmenau University of Technology in Germany for masters.

He said: “I told my father that I want to go to Germany for masters and I needed Tk8 lakh for that, but he refused to give me the money.

“When I told Amin about it, he offered to give me the money and suggested that I should go to Malaysia for studies.

He also said I should listen to Anwar al-Awlaki’s lectures and I did what he suggested.”

He told the court: “In September, I saw a dream and shared it with Alim. He suggested that I should go to Turkey and he will bear all the expenses and then I started looking for universities in Turkey.

“I asked another friend of mine Ruhul Amin to suggest a name of a university in Turkey and he gave me the Skype ID of his former university mate who was pursuing education at ATILIM University.

He said: “I showed the offer letter to Amin. He asked me to study in Turkey for the time being and later move to Syria when the situation was favourable. He told me that Muslims living there are being tortured and IS [Islamic State] is carrying out jihad against such torture. He asked me to join them and I agreed to do so because he [Alim] was funding my education and I had lost interest in life due to my family problems.”

Stating that he decided to dedicate his life for the Muslims living in Syria, he said: “I was refused a visa when I applied at the Turkey Embassy in 2015 and then Amin suggested I move to Saudi Arabia and assured to help me in this regard.”

The suspected militant who was detained by the elite force said he met Wali Zaman regarding a job and discussed the situation of Muslims in Syria. He also suggested Wali listen to Anwar al-Awlaki’s lectures.

Ferdous said: “Out of the blue, my friend Anwarul called me up one day for an important work. He talked to me about Syria and IS when I meet him in Farmgate. We again developed a mutual understanding when I told him that I was also trying to go there [Syria].”
On the other hand, Ferdous’ chances of going to Turkey or Saudi Arabia disappeared after Amin Beg’s arrest in April 2015.

According to the statement, Ferdous started the process of applying for Canadian citizenship following the suggestion of his mother and even shaved off his beard and started wearing trousers and shirts to avoid immigration problems.

He said: “I asked my father for Tk50, 000 to apply for immigration but he refused again. My father told me to kill him and take all his money and go wherever I wanted to. This sort of a reaction was unwarranted. I lost all hope.”

Ferdous added saying that Anwarul offered to take him to Turkey.

He said: “Anwarul said his earnings from teaching would be enough for both of us. We meet Wali Zaman about this.

Later, the three of us rented a two-storey flat in Badda in December 2015, which was owned by one Amzad Hossain.”

Wali introduced Ferdous and Anwarul to five others-Abu Kashem, Deen Islam, Salman and Mohsin—who were also trying to go to Syria.

In June 2016, Ferdous called up his mother and told her that he wanted to die. He also talked about how he wanted to go abroad but his father refused to give him the money.

“I wanted to return to a normal life but that was not possible because my parents would humiliate me if I did so. My father wanted me to apply for BCS and get a job at a bank, but I was not smart enough to do that.”

Stating that Salman invented a powder with Acitol last December, he said: “Wali brought 5mg powder to our house in Badda. We tested the powder by lighting a matchstick.”

Meanwhile, Anwarul’s friend Jony also made a circuit which was never used in any explosion.

“I do not know what happened to the circuit. I, along with Walim, Abul Kashem, Humayun, Deen Islam, Salman and Anwarul often went to restaurants on the 300ft road. Last February, we also went on a picnic near Jamuna Bridge.”

He ended by saying: “Wanting to go to Syria was a mistake which ruined my life. I love my parents and siblings a lot and want to return to a normal life.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune