Kolkotta: The Mizzima newspaper, citing Indian and Bangladesh intelligence officials, said in a report that “the intelligence intercepted three long-duration calls between Hafiz Tohar, military wing chief of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on Aug 23 and 24, that hold the key to why the militant group unleashed the pre-dawn offensive against Myanmar security forces”.
Nearly 125,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since Aug 25 following an army crackdown triggered by attacks by Rohingya insurgents in Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine State.
According to the Mizzima report, the ARSA is determined to thwart national leader Aung Sung Suu Kyi’s intentions to implement the Kofi Annan report that recommended for a durable solution to the decades-old crisis. “The ARSA wants to brutalise the discourse in Rakhine and help re-militarise the area so that the narrative of torture and extra-judicial killings help them boost the level of jihad and find recruits,” the report said citing a top Bangladesh intelligence official who was not named.
“Hafiz Tohar set up the Aqa Mul Mujahideen (AMM) and was trained in Pakistan by the dreaded Lashkar e Tayyaba (LET) after he was recruited by Abdul Qadoos Burmi, the chief of Harkat ul Jihad al Islami -Arakan (HUJI-A) from Kyauk Pyin Siek village of Maungdaw in 2014,” according to the report.
He merged his group into the ARSA after it was formed in the summer of 2016 and is widely believed to be behind the deadly attacks on Myanmar security forces from October 9-10 last year and on Aug 25 this year. Following the training of a few initial recruits of the AMM in Pakistan, new cadres were recruited from among Rohingya youths in Rakhine and refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar.
They were then trained in camps set up on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, especially one at Naikhongcherri in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, Mizzima said. One “Major Salamat” of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, deputed for undercover operations with the LET, was responsible for these training during April-May 2016, according to the report.