The al-Qaeda chapter that hacked an Atlanta man to death two years ago said in a new “code of conduct” for jihadists that killing American nationals in target countries is a “foremost priority” for the terror group.
Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent was formally launched in 2014 after al-Qaeda meticulously brought various militant groups under its umbrella to concentrate on operations in Burma, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. They were only designated a terrorist organization by the United States in June 2016, a full 16 months after the murder of Avijit Roy.
In February 2015, Bangladeshi-American secularist blogger Roy was hacked to death on a Dhaka street. Roy was a dual U.S.-Bangladesh citizen who lived in Atlanta and was in Bangladesh for a month. His wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonna, was with him at the time of the attack and was severely wounded, with one of her fingers severed by the pair of machete-wielding attackers.
His blog in the 90 percent Muslim country, mukto-mona.com, translates to “free thinking” and featured atheist, humanist and nationalist writers. He was also an author whose books included The Philosophy of Disbelief and The Virus of Faith — further stoking outrage of Islamists.
In addition to other assassinations of intellectuals, AQIS took credit for the April 2016 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. The two were killed with machetes by men in their 20s who yelled “Allahu Akbar” on their way out the door.
The 22-page English-language AQIS code stresses “jihad is a communal obligation, and thus the results of personal actions of an individual, or of a single organization are not limited to that individual, or that organization; rather they impact all mujahideen operating in the battlefield, and in fact, the entire Ummah [Muslim community].”
“So, not only do we require the mujahideen associated with our organization to abide by this Code of Conduct, but we also request other sister organizations that we all come forward and fulfill our religious obligations in pursuing the objectives of jihad together, that we become supporters of each other in this blessed work, that together we close the doors to all matters that could harm the jihadi movement of this entire region.”
After AQIS launched their machete assassinations, ISIS began their own campaign of terror in Bangladesh, including the July 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack in which 22 civilians and two police officers were killed. Tarishi Jain, a 19-year-old UC Berkeley student, was among the dead.
The al-Qaeda code list the group’s objectives, including the goal of implementing Shariah law, and their principles, including not striking targets permissible by Shariah “when hitting or killing such targets does more harm than good to the jihadi movement.” While a recent ISIS magazine advocated stealing from infidels, al-Qaeda says that’s not OK if the infidel is poor.
AQIS emphasizes that they are united with the Taliban, thus will fight the Taliban’s enemies outside of Afghanistan per that longstanding al-Qaeda alliance.
Much of the code focuses on how al-Qaeda is expected to act among Muslims as they “try to correct the un-Islamic traits in them” and “get them to join the caravan of jihad.” They also discuss using “only the minimum force needed to save the mujahideen” when threatened by anti-Qaeda fighters or police from a government, tribe or organization who happen to be Muslim.
“It is our conviction that the defeat of America and its agents would result in victory for the religious forces in this entire region,” the guide notes.
In Pakistan, the code stresses, “American Kafir [disbeliever] nationals and their clear interests are our foremost priority, because America is… the central enemy standing against Islamic and jihadi awakening.” Further down the list are military officer, politicians and “mulhids”: Muslims who are activists against Islamic extremism.
In India and Bangladesh, American and Israeli targets are listed as priority over the Indian government, which they accused of “secularism and anti-Islam bigotry,” and Hindu leaders.
“We avoid all such military operations that are beyond the understanding of common Muslims or repulse them away from the mujahideen,” the guide says. “…We consider it absolutely wrong to cause blasts in public gatherings, including masjids, funerals, markets and courtrooms, where there is a possibility of hurting common Muslims.” They added that they’re into educational reform instead of targeting schools for attacks, even though schools are “corrupt and carved by the Kuffar.”
If a Muslim accidentally gets hurt during an attack, AQIS vows, they’ll announce their mistake, seek forgiveness from Allah and ensure “the mujahideen who carried out the operation would be held accountable,” up to sentencing by their Shariah committee. They also claim they’ll pay damages to the Muslims harmed.
AQIS claims they won’t target Christian communities unless they fight the terrorists, “blaspheme” Prophet Muhammad or “profane” the Quran. A higher priority is given to killing secularists who “openly express their animosity toward Shariah” or lead parties that advocate the separation of Islam and state.
They add that the disposition of cases of hostages goes straight to the top, and prisoners will only certainly be spared from death if they convert to Islam.
“Our doors are wide open” for other jihadi groups, AQIS claims, adding that “regarding issues that equally affect all groups” they would foster “mutual advice” and “try to get all groups on board in every such decision.”
The code ends with a quote from Osama bin Laden: “We are going to write a holy and enlightened chapter for the believers… the person whom Allah has made steadfast is the only fortunate one.”