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Militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team publishes hit list

The Ansarullah Bangla Team (ATB), a militant group which has been blamed for a series of murders of secular writers in Bangladesh, has published a hit list of bloggers and activists around the world, threatening to kill them.

The list, issued in a statement on the Internet, includes mostly expatriate Bangladeshis— nine from the U.K., seven in Germany, two in the U.S., one in Canada and one in Sweden.

The ABT has published the list after several of its leaders and activists were arrested by the Bangladesh police, including the outfit’s acting chief Muhammad Abul Bashar, in connection with the murder of bloggers.

“Cancel the Bangladeshi citizenship of enemies of Islam and [Muslim religious] education, atheists, apostates, unbelievers, anti-Islamic ... bloggers, agents of India ... otherwise they will be killed wherever they can be found in the Almighty’s world,” the ABT said in the statement.

British newspaper The Guardian reported that the U.K.-based bloggers of Bangladeshi origins named on the list have approached the police in London and elsewhere following its publication.

A number of bloggers said they have reasons to be alarmed with the new list, but added that threats would not stop them from writing. The ABT leader, Bashar and his two associates were arrested earlier this month in Dhaka for their alleged involvement in the killing of Bangladeshi-American secular blogger and science writer Avijit Roy.

The police have recently charged several ABT operatives and organisers for the murder of a 27-year-old blogger, Washiqur Rahman, in March this year in Dhaka. Rahman’s death came just weeks after Avijit Roy was murdered in the capital city in February. Roy’s U.S.-based widow, also a blogger, who narrowly escaped the brutal attack on her husband, is among those named on the new list.

The British media said the exact origin of the list is unclear, while some have doubted if it is an official statement from the ABT in Bangladesh. Bangladesh police believe the ABT is close to the Ansar ul-Islam, which is part of al-Qaida in south Asia. Al-Qaida had earlier praised violent operations by the ABT and hailed activists charged with the murder of bloggers as “lions of the international community”.

Secular bloggers and writers in Bangladesh have become targets of extremists elements since 2004 when a respected Dhaka University professor, Humayun Azad, was brutally attacked. He later died.

In February 2013, ABT activists hacked to death Ahmed Rajib Haider, another secular blogger who was an organiser of ‘Shahbagh youth protest’, demanding maximum penalty for the 1971 war criminals.

In May this year, Ananta Bijoy Das was hacked to death by assailants in the northeast Sylhet. The latest victim is Niloy Neel, who was murdered in Dhaka. Another blogger The Bangladesh government has recently urged the bloggers to maintain “a limit” in their writings so that religious sentiments of the people are not affected.

A spokesperson for Human Rights Watch last month called for the government “to recall that its duty is to uphold the Constitution and protect people’s lives, as well as their religious freedom”.

On May 25 this year, the government banned the ABT under the country’s anti-terrorism laws. Mufti Jashimuddin Rahmani, the leader of ABT, was arrested in 2013, but his influence over the group continues, says anti-terrorism experts.

ABT has recently posted on its website a documentary video entitled ‘Eradicate Democracy’, which elaborates that democracy is not an Islamic system and the western system of democracy is completely in conflict with Islam.


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Printable version | Oct 12, 2021 7:31:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/militant-group-ansarullah-bangla-team-publishes-hit-list/article7682104.ece

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