RAB’s counterterrorism drive in securing Rohingya camps

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Rapid Action Battalion, RAB, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, ARSA, Rohingya

In a recent violent incident in Cox’s Bazar’s Ukhiya upazila, one person was killed during a shootout between the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the Arakan Solidarity Organization (RSO). This deadly confrontation over control of a Rohingya camp occurred at midnight in the sand field area of Hakimpara 14 camp of Palangkhali Union. The deceased, identified as Salim, a 30-year-old resident of E-3 block of the camp and son of Maqbool, was killed during the clash. Two others, Md. Alam and Arif Ullah, were injured in the incident. Both were night watchmen at the Rohingya camp.

Additional Deputy Inspector General (ADIG) of the 8th Armed Police Battalion, Amir Zafar, stated that the police were alerted to the firing between ARSA and RSO, both Myanmar-based armed groups. Upon arriving at the scene, the terrorists fled, leaving behind one dead and two injured. The injured were taken to the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital near the Kutupalong Rohingya camp for treatment. The body of the deceased was sent to Cox’s Bazar District Sadar Hospital morgue for an autopsy, according to Shamim Hossain, the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Ukhiya Police Station.

In a related development, a significant arrest was made by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Zakaria, a commander of ARSA, was apprehended at the Ukhiya Balukhali No. 10 Rohingya Camp on the night of June 13. During a press briefing at the RAB office in Cox’s Bazar, RAB-15 Commanding Officer (CO) Colonel HM Sajjad Hossain provided details of the arrest. Acting on intelligence reports, RAB conducted a raid and arrested Zakaria, who was found with a G-3 rifle and five rounds of live ammunition used by the Myanmar military and law enforcement.

Zakaria, during initial interrogation, confessed to being a Myanmar citizen and a commander in ARSA’s gun group. He admitted to participating in killings within the Rohingya camps. His confession led to the recovery of the G-3 rifle and live ammunition. The ongoing intelligence operations around the Rohingya camps in Teknaf and Cox’s Bazar aim to monitor and counter ARSA and other terrorist groups’ activities.

RAB’s legal and media wing director, Commander Arafat Islam, described ARSA as a symbol of terror within the Rohingya camps, involved in numerous crimes such as kidnapping, robbery, and murder. Over time, 110 ARSA members have been arrested, and significant amounts of explosives and weapons have been seized. RAB’s persistent operations have disrupted ARSA’s leadership and activities. However, there is ongoing concern about weapons and explosives entering Bangladesh due to regional instability.

In February of this year, RAB-15 made another notable arrest, capturing three high-ranking ARSA members, including the group’s second-in-command and the ARSA chief’s bodyguard. The operation, conducted at the Extension No. 20 Rohingya camp in Ukhiya, resulted in the seizure of two foreign weapons, a domestic weapon, and four rounds of ammunition.

RAB-15 Commanding Officer (CO) Lt. Colonel HM Sajjad Hossain highlighted that in the past year, RAB-15 arrested 101 top ARSA terrorists. They confiscated seven foreign pistols, 52 indigenous weapons, 140 rounds of bullets/cartridges, 67 rounds of empty shells, 50.21 kg of explosives, 28 pieces of cocktails, and four IEDs. The strict measures and vigilant operations by RAB have been crucial in controlling terrorist activities in the region, especially in the mountainous areas where such activities have been rising alarmingly.

The role of RAB in combating terrorism in Bangladesh, particularly in controlling the activities of ARSA and RSO within the Rohingya camps, has been commendable. Despite facing opposition and sanctions from international bodies, RAB has continued its mission to maintain peace and order. The imposition of sanctions by the US Treasury Department in 2021, influenced by continuous anti-RAB propaganda, has not deterred their efforts. RAB remains dedicated to its duty, demonstrating resilience and commitment in the face of adversity.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s decision to shelter 1.2 million Rohingya refugees expelled from Myanmar in 2017 was a significant humanitarian gesture. RAB’s role in ensuring security within these refugee camps, amidst the presence of criminal elements like ARSA and RSO, has been vital. Given their contributions, there is a growing call for the US administration to lift the sanctions against RAB, allowing them to continue their essential work without hindrance.

In summary, the efforts by RAB and other law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh are crucial in combating terrorism and maintaining stability in the region, especially within the Rohingya camps. Their actions have been instrumental in curbing the influence and operations of terrorist groups, ensuring safety and security for the displaced Rohingya population.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Bangladesh has successfully combated terrorism and religious extremism. This elite force deserves appreciation though, allegations against it of violating human rights also need to be addressed by the media.

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