Bangladesh probes group suspected in blogger’s death for ties to al-Qaeda

NEW DELHI — Police in Bangladesh said Monday that they are investigating whether a small terrorist group suspected in the hacking dying of an American blogger has links to al-Qaeda after a video surfaced over the weekend of an al-Qaeda…

NEW DELHI — Police in Bangladesh said Monday that they are investigating whether a small terrorist group suspected in the hacking dying of an American blogger has links to al-Qaeda after a video surfaced over the weekend of an al-Qaeda chief declaring responsibility for the assault.

Asim Umar, the purported chief of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), published a video on a jihadist forum claiming responsibility for the deaths of Avijit Roy, a secularist blogger killed in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, in February, and other “blasphemers” from Bangladesh and Pakistan.

“These assassinations are part of a sequence of operations initiated on the orders of our respected leader,” Umar reportedly said in the video, relating to al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri. The video turned into translated and analyzed with the aid of the Bethesda, Md.-primarily based site Intelligence group.

Analysts in Pakistan and India, as well as some police officers in Bangladesh, expressed skepticism, theorizing that the claim may be a ploy to gain effect AQIS, al-Qaeda’s South Asia wing. Zawahiri mounted the department in September to counter the upward thrust of other terrorist agencies such as the Islamic country and to reinforce al-Qaeda’s waning affect in South Asia.

[Why al-Qaeda is opening a new wing in South Asia]

Lt. Col. Abdul Kalam Azad, director of intelligence for Bangladesh’s rapid action Battalion, said investigators were studying the video to decide its authenticity.

“Perhaps they may be taking a chance to boom [their] reputation,” Azad said. “However, obviously, the video is a new point for us, and we are also taking it very critically.”

Police in Bangladesh said they believe that a nearby institution referred to as Ansarullah Bangla team (ABT), with approximately 100 or so “nicely-educated” active members, become at the back of Roy’s loss of life.

Police said Roy, a resident of suburban Atlanta who changed into killed by way of machete-wielding assailants on Feb. 26 as he was leaving a Dhaka book fair together with his wife, became focused for secularist views he had espoused on a weblog and in a book known as “The Virus of faith.” One suspect has been arrested.

After Roy’s demise, every other blogger from Bangladesh additionally changed into hacked to loss of life; others were attacked with the aid of extremists in 2013, and one died.

“Up to now, our investigation reveals that a few participants of ABT, they’re perpetrators in [the Roy] incident, and we’re trying to hint them and recognize them,” said Monirul Islam, joint commissioner of the detective department of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police. “We understand ABT is the closest relative of al-Qaeda, as they follow their ideology, strategy, procedures, the entirety.”
Al-Qaeda has had enduring links with Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority u. s. a. That split from Pakistan in 1971. In step with terrorism expert Ajai Sahni, the network’s impact their dates to 1992, whilst the terrorist group Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh changed into installation with direct funding from al-Qaeda leader Osama bin encumbered.

“It’s far possibly that extremist elements in Bangladesh have maintained contacts with al-Qaeda and now with AQIS,” said Sahni, executive director of the Institute for battle management in New Delhi. However, he cautioned, “local groups like ABT would basically get hold of ideological direction, in preference to operational dictates or goal choice, from al-Qaeda and AQIS.”
In current weeks, AQIS’s leadership has been decimated with the aid of drone attacks, inclusive of one in January that killed Western hostages, experts say. Pakistani officials instructed The Washington post in April that a key AQIS chief, an American raised in Pakistan, also become killed in that assault.

“My fee is that AQIS at this factor is greater aspirational than operational,” stated Michael Kugelman, senior companion for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson worldwide middle for scholars. “It is a formal organization with a management hierarchy, but it has little to show for in what it has completed on the floor.”

AQIS had launched the best one high-profile operation — an abortive try to take over a Pakistani military frigate in September. The operation became foiled after a severe firefight between security forces and militants in which several terrorists died.

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