US-based monitoring agency SITE Intelligence Group confirmed Ansar Al Islam (AQIS), Bangladesh branch of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, has claimed responsibility for the murder of Xulhaz Mannan and his friend.
In a Twitter post by spokesperson of Ansar Al Islam, Mufti Abdullah Ashraf, AQIS’s Bangladesh unit, said their ‘mujahidins’ assassinated the two for being ‘pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh’. The twitter account mentioned as @Ansar_Islam_BD posted a statement, one in Bangla and the other in English.
“Alhamdulillah, By the grace of Almighty Allah, the Mujahidin of Ansar Al-Islam (AQIS, Bangladesh branch) were able to assassin Xulhaz Mannan and his associate Samir Mahbub Tonoy,” read the statement. “They were the pioneers of practising and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh,” it added. It also 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.”
Xulhaz worked as a Political Process Analyst at the USAID, 35 years old, and was also the editor of ‘Roopbaan’, the only magazine of the country working with different prospects for the rights of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. Earlier, Xulhaz also worked as a protocol officer of former US ambassador Dan Mozena for a long time.
The first murder AQIS claimed was that of author Avijit Roy, killed by machete-wielding assailants while leaving the Amar Ekushey Book Fair with his wife in February last year. The AQIS also claimed the responsibility the murders of Rajshahi University teacher Prof. AFM Rezaul Karim Siddiquee, while he was on his way to catch a bus to the campus on Saturday.
However, Xulhaz was buried at Banani graveyard after namaz-e-janaza at Tetultola playground near his residence and Tonoy was laid to rest at a Mirpur graveyard after namaz-e-janaza at his residential area of Shewrapara.
Xulhaz’s brother Minhaz Mannan Emon said to media that, everybody has the right and liberty to express his/her views. It is not accepted that you have to kill people for their views. He also demanded immediate arrest of the killers. Minhaz said they were not aware of any threat to him as he did not share it with them.