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Bangladesh probes Al-Qaeda links in atheist bloggers' murder

May 04, 2015 18:23 IST

Bangladesh on Monday said it has launched investigations into the involvement of Al-Qaeda's Indian Subcontinent unit in the killing of American atheist blogger Avijit Roy and other secular bloggers.

“Our intelligence agencies do not have any information that Al-Qaeda had killed the three bloggers, including (Bangladeshi-American) Avijit Roy. However, investigations have been ordered to verify if the video tape released in the name of AQIS was genuine,” state Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told media in Dhaka.

The minister's comments came a day after Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent claimed responsibility for the murder of Bangladesh-born US blogger, Roy.

“We earlier came to know the link of Ansarullah Bangla Team with Roy's murder and this outfit may have relations with Al-Qaeda,” Kamal said.

AQIS has posted a video on jihadist fora claiming responsibility for the murder of Roy in Bangladesh as well as other "blasphemers" there and in Pakistan, according to SITE Intelligence Group in the US.

“AQIS leader Asim Umar claimed credit for the murder of American citizen Avijit Roy in Bangladesh as well as other 'blasphemers' there and in Pakistan,” according to SITE, a US website that monitors extremist groups.

Roy, a prominent writer and secular activist, was hacked to death by two assailants with machetes on the streets of Dhaka in February as the 45-year old blogger returned from a book fair with his wife.

The Bangladesh-born writer, who emigrated to Georgia some 15 years ago, was well known in his homeland for his Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog where he railed against all forms of organised religion.

Roy was also the author of a series of books, including the best-selling "The Virus of Faith", which triggered a controversy in Bangladesh.

Asked if Al-Qaeda was behind the killing of Roy and two other bloggers -- Ahmed Rajib Haider and Washiqur Rahman, Bangladesh police's spokesman Monirul Islam said they were not ruling out the AQIS claim as "we have information that several militant outfits of Bangladesh follow Al-Qaeda".

A little-known Bangladeshi militant group called Ansarullah Bangla Team had also apparently claimed responsibility for Roy's murder via a twitter account which police have not been able to verify as genuine.

ABT grabbed media headlines two years ago as police at that time said the outfit might have links with the murder of blogger Haider in 2013.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US joined hands with Bangladeshi investigators in tracking down those involved in Roy's murder.

Bangladesh's elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion in March arrested the key-suspect of Roy's murder -- Farabi Shafiur Rahman.

Farabi was earlier arrested in 2013 for social media comments that supported the murder of blogger Haider, but he was later released on bail.

A month after Roy's killing, another blogger Rahman was killed in broad daylight in Dhaka. 

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