Media in Bangladesh are reporting that they received a threatening email from a banned radical group of Islamists. Police are investigating the incident.
The email — sent after a series of deadly attacks targeting moderates and foreigners — contains a six-point directive that includes telling women to stay at home. It urges businesses to fire any female employees, and says that working outside of the home is a “punishable offense” according to Shariah, or Islamic law. It does not elaborate what would constitute appropriate punishment.
The letter is signed by the group Ansarullah Bangla Team, which is allegedly linked with several other groups that claimed responsibility for killing four atheist bloggers this year.
Ansarullah is reportedly linked to al-Qaeda, but the email mentions an affiliation with the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). The author wrote that ISIS “holds the working of women outside the home” as a “punishable offence,” but does not mention al-Qaeda.
Abdullah bin Salim, the spokesman for Ansarullah, signed the email, but it is unknown if he wrote or dictated it. Someone “in the southeastern district of Chittagong” sent the email to bdnews24.com, Dhaka Tribune, and other outlets.
“Our directives will be the law for you from today,” wrote the author. “The consequences will be severe if you do not walk the path of Islam. Towering buildings will crumble to the ground, your heads will roll at the feet of the soldiers of Islam.”
The email listed atheist bloggers—six in Bangladesh and nine abroad—they planned to slaughter if any returned to the country. Radical Islamists killed four bloggers and attacked five this year alone. The latest murder occurred in August when a mob hacked to death secular blogger Niloy Chakrabartu, who wrote under the pen name Niloy Neel.
The five bloggers attacked in 2015 were:
August 6 – Niloy Chatterjee, blogger, hacked to death at his home in Dhaka.
May 12 – Ananta Bijoy Das, blogger for Mukto-Mona website, killed while on his way to work in the city of Sylhet.
March 30 – Washiqur Rahman Babu, blogger, hacked to death by three men in Dhaka.
February 26 – Avijit Roy, a prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger, killed while walking with his wife outside Dhaka University.
“No one will be spared if you support atheists,” said the group. “If your freedom of expression breaks the limit we have set, every news media unit should be prepared to face [the consequences] of our freedom to vent our anger.”
ISIS claimed a presence in Bangladesh this month when they claimed its militants murdered a Japanese tourist and an Italian aid worker. However, authorities quickly denied the radical group committed the murders.