Bangladesh ar­rests Bri­ton over blog­ger mur­ders


Bangladesh’s elite se­cu­rity force Tues­day ar­rested three sus­pected Is­lamist mil­i­tants, in­clud­ing a Bri­tish citizen whom po­lice said was the “main plan­ner” of the mur­der of two prom­i­nent athe­ist blog­gers.

Rapid Ac­tion Bat­tal­ion ( RAB) spokes­men said they ar­rested Touhidur Rah­man, 58, and two other “ac­tive mem­bers” of an Is­lamic group called An­sarul­lah Bangla Team ( ABT), which was banned in May over a se­ries of killings of blog­gers.

“We’ve ar­rested them in the cap­i­tal to­day. We can con­firm that Rah­man is a Bangladesho­ri­gin Bri­tish citizen. He is the main plan­ner of the at­tacks on Avi­jit Roy and Ananta Bijoy Das,” Ma­jor Mak­sudul Alam of the RAB told AFP.

“He told us that he is a Bri­tish citizen,” said Mufti Mah­mood, the head of the RAB’s le­gal and media di­vi­sion, adding that the three would be pa­raded be­fore the press later Tues­day.

Four sec­u­lar blog­gers have been hacked to death in Mus­lim­ma­jor­ity Bangladesh since the start of the year, in­clud­ing Roy and Das, prompt­ing in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion and spark­ing protests mainly by sec­u­lar ac­tivists in the cap­i­tal.

Roy, a U. S. citizen who was born in Bangladesh, was mur­dered in Fe­bru­ary by a gang wield­ing ma­chetes in an at­tack in Dhaka. Roy’s wife was badly wounded in the at­tack.

Das, 33, was killed in sim­i­lar fash­ion as he headed to work at a bank in the north­east­ern city of Syl­het on May 13.

The gov­ern­ment has vowed to hunt down the killers af­ter fac­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that too lit­tle was be­ing done to stop such at­tacks.

Gone into Hid­ing


de­scribed Rah­man

as the main plan­ner of the at­tack as well as the “main fi­nancier” of ABT, whose mem­bers are mostly stu­dents from pri­vate univer­si­ties.

“The other two An­sarul­lah mem­bers ar­rested to­day are Sadek Ali and Aminul Mol­lick. Ali has ad­mit­ted in pri­mary in­ves­ti­ga­tions that he took part in both the mur­ders,” Alam said.

Bangladesh law en­force­ment last week also ar­rested two sus­pected mem­bers of the group for the homi­cide of Niloy Chakrabarti, who be­came the fourth blog­ger to be killed when he was hacked to death at his home on Aug. 7.

Chakrabarti, who used the pen- name Niloy Neel, had posted on Face­book months be­fore his death that he had been fol­lowed by two young men, but po­lice re­fused to register the com­plaint and in­stead told him to leave the coun­try.

The other vic­tim was 27- year- old sec­u­lar blog­ger Washiqur Rah­man, who was killed in Dhaka four months ago.

Most sec­u­lar blog­gers have gone into hid­ing, of­ten us­ing pseu­do­nyms in their posts. And at least seven have fled abroad, ac­cord­ing to a Canada- based athe­ist blog­ger Farid Ahmed who helped sev­eral of them.

Po­lice were also in­ves­ti­gat­ing claims made by a third party that al- Qaida in the In­dian Sub­con­ti­nent was be­hind the killings. AQIS has al­ready claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the mur­der of Roy.

In a re­cent pe­ti­tion to Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina, au­thors in­clud­ing Sal­man Rushdie and Mar­garet At­wood called on her gov­ern­ment “to do all in their power to en­sure that the tragic events ... are not re­peated.”

Bangladesh is an of­fi­cially sec­u­lar coun­try, but more than 90 per­cent of its 160 mil­lion peo­ple are Mus­lim.


Bangladeshi Rapid Ac­tion Bat­tal­ion per­son­nel ac­com­pany sus­pects Touhidur Rah­man, sec­ond from left, Sadek Ali, cen­ter, and Aminul Mallick in Dhaka, Tues­day, Aug. 18. The three were ar­rested for the mur­der of two prom­i­nent athe­ist blog­gers.

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