A second blogger has been assassinated in Bangladesh over making comments critical of Islam. 27 year old Washiqur Rahman was attacked by three men outside of his home in Dhaka and was hacked to death by machetes Monday. Police arrested two of the three men but the last managed to evade police. The two arrested suspects are students at local madrassahs; a 22 year old known as Zikrullah and 22 year old Ariful Islam. Both men confessed to killing Rahman and stated that they did so due to Rahman’s criticism of Islam, and stated that the mastermind of the plan was a man called “Masum.”
Washiqur Rahman was a fan of the recently assassinated Bangladeshi-American blogger Avjit Roy, who was murdered in a similar fashion. Avjit Roy was murdered shortly after criticizing the shootings at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, as well as the murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider for similar comments back in 2013. Roy and his wife were likewise attacked by a gang of knife and machete wielding assailants as the couple returned home from a book fair in Dhaka. As Roy was an American citizen, the FBI accepted an offer by Bangladeshi law enforcement to help investigate the murder.
Avjit Roy’s father, Ajay Roy, a retired professor at Dhaka University, stated that his son was murdered by agents of Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI), Bangladesh’s main Islamist political party. JEI denied the accusation claiming they had nothing to do with the murder and demanded that the responsible parties be punished. Dhaka police arrested Islamic fundamentalist blogger Shafiur Rahman Farabi, who had frequently argued with Avjit Roy and even threatened him in addition to commending the murder, for a possible connection to the killing. Farabi was once a member of Jamaat-e-Islami but later joined Hizb ut-Tahrir, currently banned in Bangladesh.
A group named “Ansar Bangla 7” later claimed responsibility for Roy’s murder, and could very well be linked to the other killings as well. Some allege Ansar Bangla 7 to just be a branch of Jamaat-e-Islami, allowing JEI to conduct killings of opponents and maintain plausible deniability. Several members of JEI have been charged with war crimes during Bangladesh’s war for independence in 1971 including Ashrafuzzaman Khan, former secretary general of the Islamic Circle of North America, JEI’s American front group, Ghulam Azam and Abdul Kader Mullah, h. Mullah was accused of being a member of the al-Badr paramilitary force which was responsible for the massacres and forced conversions of Bangladeshi Hindus during the war; Mullah was convicted of the crimes and sentenced to life in prison.
Whether JEI directly ordered the killing of the secularist bloggers, what is certain is that they have contributed to a climate of violence targeting secularists and free thinkers. JEI’s Pakistani chief warned that mockery of Islam‘s prophet Mohammad , would result in “World War III,” and JEI has repeatedly targeted secular bloggers as part of its campaign to establish Sharia blasphemy laws.