Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent promised to elaborate about their late April assassination of an LGBT magazine editor and USAID worker — and that statement this week took aim at America.
The AQIS chapter was announced by al-Qaeda commanders in 2014 and has waged an assassination campaign against figures they see as anti-Islamic. They’ve 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 also tried to adopt this method of ambushing intellectuals or atheists, though Bangladesh denies fighters allied to the Islamic State are active in the country.
The attacks 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.
On April 25, Xulhaz Mannan, 35, and Mahbub Tonoy, 25, were in their apartment in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 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.
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 Roopbaan, Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine. Tonoy was an LGBT activist and stage actor who had worked for the magazine over the past year.
The Obama administration decried the slayings as an attack on the LGBT community.
AQIS made an initial claim of responsibility for the murders, vowing to follow up with “additional details.” On Tuesday, with a digital verification signature, they posted a lengthy screed about the assassination campaign on their blog.
Mannan and Tonoy, they said, were “responsible for spearheading the campaign to publicly spread the filth of homosexuality in Bangladesh” with their “cult” magazine.
AQIS spokesman Mufti Abdullah Ashraf charged that “the tears of these crusaders start flowing” only when a victim of violence is “an enemy of Islam, a promoter of Islamophobia, or a promoter of depravity whose goal was to preach and spread perversion & obscenity.”
“The same America which has legalized the perversion and wickedness of the people of Lut [Sodom and Gomorrah], at a state level. Recently the ambassador of this same America has described these perverted degenerates as their ‘dear friend.’ …We are astonished by the shamelessness of these Americans. They are the ones who are continually committing crimes against fundamental human ethics, morality, civilizational values and humanity,” Ashraf continued.
“Now the American Secretary of State wants us to believe Xulhaz Mannan was an ideal role model for the Muslims of Bangladesh, by claiming that this degenerate pervert, this promoter of perversion, this enemy of Allah ’embodied the spirit of the people of Bangladesh.’ … The audacity of these kuffar [disbelievers] is truly astounding.”
USAID Administrator Gayle Smith said Mannan worked at the U.S. Embassy for eight years before joining USAID in September. “In his role as a Project Management Assistant in the Democracy and Governance office, he worked tirelessly to support organizations focused on broadening and deepening political understanding throughout Bangladesh,” Smith said in a statement. “Unsurprisingly, he also devoted extra time to building a more open and welcoming workplace, serving as a founding member of the U.S. Embassy Diversity Committee. That’s the kind of person he was, and we were incredibly fortunate to have him on our team.”
AQIS accused Mannan of working for “foreign masters” and undertaking “schemes & methodologies to attract the unsuspecting youth to homosexuality.”
Ashraf called both Mannan and Tonoy “soldiers working for America” in the “American project of spreading & popularizing homosexuality in Bangladesh… nothing but an extension of America’s global military & ideological war on Islam.”
“To the leader of global disbelief America, we say: You went to Vietnam, you were beaten and so you fled. Even though your current secretary of state himself, committed war crimes in Vietnam, yet these despicable crimes could not secure your victory. You went to Iraq, you were beaten, and so you fled. You went to Afghanistan, you were beaten, so now you are fleeing. How then do you still dare to interfere in the matters of the Muslims?”
Al-Qaeda accused the U.S. of “stealing the resources belonging to the Muslims of this land,” including some 30 footnotes throughout the statement linking to various news articles, videos and tweets, and said America continues “colonial plunder by repackaging it as ‘liberal democracy.'”
“And be warned O America! Until you stop your invasion, aggression & interference in the Muslim world, until you stop your war against Islam, you and your agents will not be safe in this land, or in any corner of this earth,” Ashraf added.
AQIS added a word of advice to ISIS, telling them to only hit legitimate targets “justified by the shariah.”
“We need to be extremely cautious and careful, so that we do not end up spilling the blood of a Muslim even by accident,” Ashraf chided.
The al-Qaeda spokesman apologized for injuring a security guard at Mannan’s apartment complex. “We did not have any intention of attacking him, whatsoever. Rather we were forced to repel him only for the sake of self-defense,” Ashraf said. “We feel that he tried to prevent the mujahideen as he was not aware of the despicable & heinous crimes of Xulhaz Mannan. If it were not for security reasons, we would have surely compensated Parvez Molla for his injuries.”