Homeland Security

Brutal al-Qaeda Chapter Lashes Out at Media 'Ploy' to 'Tarnish Image'

Police and paramedics tend to Mahmuda Aktar, wife of a Bangladeshi police officer who was killed by militants in Chittagong, Bangladesh, on June 5, 2016. (AP Photo)

An al-Qaeda chapter that has carried out a horrific string of machete assassinations in Bangladesh has criticized last Sunday’s murder of a police official’s wife as un-Islamic and warned the media to be “wary” of linking them to the crime.

The long statement released on the blog of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, a group that has previously released guidelines for proper assassination targets, underscores how al-Qaeda is trying to paint itself as the only terror organization carrying out legitimate jihad in the face of ISIS’ well-publicized brutal tactics — and as ISIS tries to muscle in on al-Qaeda territory in Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Mahmuda Aktar, the wife of police superintendent Babul Aktar, was taking their first-grade son to the school-bus stop at about 6:45 a.m. in Chittagong, a seaside city in southeastern Bangladesh. Three men approached on a motorcycle — similar to the gang-ambush style of AQIS — and shot her three times in the head after stabbing her.

Aktar was notable for his work leading raids against Islamist militants in the area, reported Bangladesh’s News 24. He had recently been promoted and transferred to police headquarters in the capital, Dhaka.

“Babul Aktar is an efficient police officer and played a key role in apprehending Islamists,” Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters this week. “They might have killed his wife because they failed to get him.”

Separately last Sunday, a Christian grocer, 60-year-old Sunil Gomes, was hacked to death in his Natore district store. ISIS claimed responsibility for that murder; the Bangladesh government has denied that ISIS is present in the country despite multiple attacks over the past year for which they’ve taken credit.

AQIS last took credit for the April attack on a USAID worker and his associate in Dhaka.

Xulhaz Mannan, 35, who previously worked for the U.S. Embassy as a protocol officer and also founded the country’s only LGBT magazine, and Mahbub Tonoy, 25, a magazine contributor, were killed when attackers posing as delivery couriers gained entry to Mannan’s building. 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 of Atlanta, 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 and religious minorities.

In AQIS’ statement today, spokesman Mufti Abdullah Ashraf said that despite government agencies that have “fought against Islam… still we do not believe the heinous crimes of the members of these agencies can ever make attacking their family members justifiable or permissible from the point of view of the Shariah.”

“For this reason we do not support nor condone this attack, regardless of whoever is responsible for it,” Ashraf continued. “…We believe such attacks are against the principles of Jihad taught by our beloved Prophet Muhammad.”

“Although we do not even support this murder, the media and many in the taghoot [rebel against Islam] government are scheming to pin the blame of this murder on jihad and the mujahidin,” Ashraf added, calling it “a ploy by the media to tarnish the image” of AQIS.

After all, Ashraf argued they “have steadily won over the hearts & minds of the general Muslim population, students of knowledge and scholars of Islam of this land due to its consecutive blessed and successful attacks on the Islamophobic nexus & the purveyors of sexual depravity & deviance on behalf of the forces of disbelief.”

“Because of this, the media, which is in actuality slave to the forces of disbelief and taghoot, is now trying to pin the blame of this murder on the ‘killers of bloggers.’ By the will of Allah the Almighty, just like their previous plots this plot of theirs will come to naught.”

In April, AQIS murdered Nazimuddin Samad, 28, a law student at Jagannath University. His “crimes,” as the terror group later detailed, included an August 2013 Facebook post with “very obscene language” that “slandered our beloved prophet,” an April 2015 “parody of an ayah [verse] of the Holy Quran in the Facebook,” and an April 2015 “mock” of Allah on Facebook.

After Samad’s murder, AQIS issued an updated list of “who’s next” targeting guidelines. Along with “anyone insulting prophet Muhammad” or supporting the free-speech rights of those who do, “those who don’t allow others to follow the rulings of the Islamic Shariah,” including teachers, political leaders, judges, doctors, etc., are named as targets, as well as “those who intentionally misrepresent Islam in their writing or talks in order to take the Muslim community away from Islam which is one of the major agendas of the Crusaders,” including writers, “so-called intellectuals,” newspaper editors, actors, producers, poets and journalists.

“Those who oppose the Islamic Shariah by their talks or writings or show insolence towards it or insult it” are also named as targets, as are “those who are engaged in spreading nudity, obscenity and shamefulness in the Muslim society.”

The terror group said today that Muhammad “generally” forbids “the intentional killing and singling out for attacks those women and children of the enemy who do not participate in battle.”

“Muslims in general and the mujahidin in particular are bound to always follow the Shariah. We do not have the right to select targets or to spill blood based on our whims and desires,” Ashraf insisted, claiming that all of their assassinations so far have been “sanctioned by and in accordance with the incontrovertible and infallible Shariah of Allah” after “careful consideration and deep Shariah analysis.”

“We have already declared who will be our next target, and who are the ones in our sights. Our declaration is public, clear and in it there is no room for obfuscation. Those who want to pin the blame of this attack on us, those who want to tarnish the image of the mujahidin, those who want to raise doubts and questions about Jihad… even after this public and unmistakable declaration, they need to be very careful about themselves and their transgressions. Every opportunistic liar and gossipmonger needs to be wary.”

In another dig at ISIS without mentioning their competitor by name, Ashraf said in AQIS’ terrorism “methodology there is no room for laxity or extremism.”

“Therefore, the sword which we have unsheathed against America; the center of Crusader-Zionist axis, against the taghoot regimes subservient to it, against the islamophobic nexus which is backed by it & against the regional brahminical forces, the sword which we have unsheathed against the heads of kufr [disbelievers], will not strike women and children. For this is never our goal,” Ashraf claimed. “…We are humble towards the believers and mighty and stern towards the kuffar.”