Mamunul Haque, a joint secretary general of Hifazat-e Islam, had links with the militants responsible for the grenade attack on an Awami League rally on Aug 21, 2004, the police said.
He had also gone to Pakistan with one of the militants to contact the terrorist and political groups there, said Harunor Rashid, a deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
The police found evidence from seized mobile phone of the Hifazat leader that he had collected funds from Qatar, Dubai and Pakistan in the name of Babri Mosque, Harunor said.
Mamunul’s brother-in-law Maulana Mufti Neamat Uddin had been arrested over the grenade attack, but later walked free, according to the DC of DMP.
Mamunul and Neamat had travelled to Pakistan in 2005 and contacted militant and political groups during a 45-day stay there, Harunor said.
The Hifazat leader had been trying to make the organisation like a Pakistani group, he said at a press conference at his office on Sunday.
“He had political ambitions. He had been thinking about grabbing power with the help of the Jamaat (Jamaat-e-Islami),” said the police officer.
The radical Islamist brought “huge funds from abroad through bKash and bank accounts to use for militancy and extremism in madrasas and mosques,” he added.
After Hifazat let loose violence in parts of Bangladesh during protests against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit over his government’s policy towards Muslims, the law enforcers arrested a number of leaders of the group, including Mamunul.
The police now say that the Hifazat leaders were advancing a big plan the law enforcers had no idea about.
These extremist leaders want to turn Bangladesh into a country like Pakistan or Afghanistan by establishing Hifazat as a group like Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Labbaik, Mahbub Alam, a joint commissioner of the police’s Detective Branch, said on Saturday.
Mamunul, joint secretary general of the radical group, is known for his hate speech and aggressive sermons in religious congregations and on social media, enjoying popularity among hardliners.
Earlier this month, the man gained an unsavoury reputation after he was caught at a resort in Narayanganj’s Sonargaon with a woman who he claimed was his second wife. His claim was later disputed by the authorities.
In November 2020, Mamunul called for the government to remove the upcoming statue of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, claiming statues were contradictory to Islam. Later, he clarified that he did not mean to disrespect Bangabandhu, reports bdnews24.com.
The police arrested the hardline Islamist leader on Apr 18 in a case filed with Mohammadpur Police Station in 2020 over violence.