Armed Islamists hacked secularist blogger Ananta Bijoy Das to death in Bangladesh Tuesday, marking the third such attack since February.
Tuesday’s attack took place in the northeastern city of Sylhet, marking the first such murder outside Dhaka, the capital. His assailants, wielding machetes, ambushed him as he was traveling to the bank where he worked. Das died on the spot. He was reportedly 31 years old.
Das was a contributor to “Mukto-Mona” (Free Mind), the blog founded by Avijit Roy. Roy, a U.S. citizen, died in a disturbingly similar incident in February. Another associated writer, Washiqur Rahman, died in March. (RELATED: Bangladesh Sees Another Anti-Islam Blogger Killed With Machete)
Besides their ties as anti-Islamist activists and writers, all three victims were killed by men in plain view on busy streets.
Islamist and secularist ideas are politically loaded in Bangladesh, a country still recovering from a bloody civil war in the 1970s against occupation by Pakistan. Many of today’s political Islamists are associated with crimes in the civil war, which some have labeled genocide.
The so-called “atheist blogger” faction in Bangladeshi civil society has emerged in recent years, advocating goals that include the death penalty for convicted war criminals. Roy, who died in February, was among the most outspoken and well-known, for publications including a book called “The Virus of Faith.”
Al-Qaida’s local affiliate in South Asia recently claimed responsibility for the two earlier attacks on “blasphemers.” A Bangladeshi Islamist group Tuesday quickly bragged that it perpetrated the attack on Das, but then specifically told journalists to give credit to the local al-Qaida franchise rather than using its own name, Ansar Bangla. The move may therefore be an attempt to inflate al-Qaida’s reputation as a worldwide perpetrator of terrorism. (RELATED: How ISIS And Al-Qaida Benefit From Local Nutjobs)
Das, Rahman and Roy were all on lists of prospective targets circulated by local Islamist groups before their death.
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