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Bangladesh: Mob Hacks Secular Blogger to Death with Machetes

In Bangladesh, men attacked and hacked to death liberal blogger Nazimuddin Samad, 26, with machetes on Monday night.

Samad left his law classes at Jagganath University in Dhaka when four or five men hacked him with machetes and then shot him in the head as he fell to the ground.

“The whole episode lasted less than minute, before anyone around could understand what was going on,” explained Syed Nurul Islam, Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s deputy commissioner. “The assailants then lost themselves amongst the crowd.”

The men fled on motorcycles. Police have not made any arrests.

No one has taken responsibility for the murder. Extremists have killed six bloggers and activists in the past year. Samad, an atheist, often criticized religion on his Facebook page.

“Religion is the most uncivilised invention by some barbaric people. It is always a tool for oppression used by the powerful people and the rulers. By showing people the fear of almighty the powerful people become almighty themselves,” he wrote in one post.

His family begged him to stop posting his views in case they made him a target for extremists.

“To tell the truth, he was always a little detached from his family; he had trouble with them because of his views on religion,” said his childhood friend Gulam Rabbi Chowdhury. “He was very outspoken. He didn’t worry about whether you were with him or not.”

Students at the university protested the killing on Thursday, blocking “roads in and around the university.” They claimed inaction by the police caused Samad’s death.

“Talented youths are killed one after another, but there are no visible measures against these heinous acts,” exclaimed Kabir Chowdhury Tanmoy, president of the Online Activist Forum.

Extremists attacked these bloggers in 2015:

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.

They also attacked and killed two men who “published the works of atheist writers” in October.

Ansar al-Islam, the Bangladeshi branch of the al-Qaeda in Indian Sub-Continent (AQIS), claimed responsibility for three killings. In September 2014, al-Qaeda announced new chapters in the Indian subcontinent. Leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urged Muslims “wage jihad against its enemies, to liberate its land, to restore its sovereignty and to revive its caliphate.” Terrorism experts believe the expansion was “to compete with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS),” who also seek to expand in the Indian subcontinent.

Media in Bangladesh received a threatening email from the Ansarullah Bangla Team. From the Associated Press:

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 the Islamic State “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.

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