Al-Qaeda Claims USAID Worker's Murder, But Administration Not Calling It Terrorism
The Obama administration did not characterize Monday's brutal slaying of a USAID worker as terrorism on Tuesday despite al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent taking credit for the crime.
Xulhaz Mannan, 35, and Mahbub Tonoy, 25, were in their apartment in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Monday at about 5:30 p.m. when attackers posing as delivery couriers gained entry. They were attacked with machetes by men in their 20s who yelled "Allahu Akbar" on their way out the door.
The attack followed the pattern of AQIS attacks that began in February 2015 with the machete murder of an American citizen, writer Avijit Roy, on a Dhaka street. Roy ran a blog featuring atheist, humanist and nationalist writers.
AQIS, which formally launched in 2014 after al-Qaeda brought various militant groups from India to Bangladesh and Myanmar under its umbrella, has explicitly detailed why they've picked certain writers and activists as their targets -- those they believe have insulted Islam and stand in the way of submission to Shariah law. ISIS has tried to adopt this method of ambushing intellectuals or atheists, though Bangladesh denies fighters allied to the Islamic State are active in the country.
Mannan was an LGBT activist before going to work at the U.S. Embassy as a protocol officer. He later worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and founded the magazine Roopbaan, which was going to hold a Rainbow Rally earlier this month that was canceled due to death threats.
Tonoy was an LGBT activist and stage actor who had worked for the magazine over the past year.
In a statement posted on their Twitter accounts Tuesday, AQIS said they killed "the pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh."
"Xulhaz Mannan was the director of Roopbaan (a cult comprised of the gays and the lesbians) while Samir Mahbub Tonoy was one of its most important activists," the statement from spokesman Mufti Abdullah Ashraf said. "They were working day and night to promote homosexuality among the people of this land since 1998 with the help of their masters, the US crusaders and its Indian allies."
AQIS promised to "follow up with additional details" soon. They included a digital signature for extra verification of the authenticity of their claim.
At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest was asked about President Obama's response to the slayings.