Bangladesh in al-Qaeda’s cross-hairs?

Home ministry terms an al-Queda audio baseless, DB not sure until the terrorist outfit denies responsibility

An audio clip available on a website “Jihadology” became a much-talked-about issue in the country yesterday as it claims that the audio message was from terrorist organisation al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri with a call to Bangladeshi Muslims to fight against secularists and “atheists.”

Private television channels throughout the day broadcast news based on the audio clip that claimed “As-Saḥāb Media presents a new video [though it was only voice] message from al-Qā’idah’s Dr Ayman al-Ẓawāhirī: ‘Bangladesh: A Massacre Behind a Wall of Silence.’”

The Dhaka Tribune enquired a number of sources to verify the authenticity of the audio clip, but could not confirm it. Meanwhile, the home ministry termed the audio message baseless as per their intelligence information.

Monirul Islam, joint commissioner of the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, who listened to the audio tape, said: “Primarily it seems that it was a message from al-Qaeda and Zawahiri.

“Until and unless al-Qaeda officially denies their responsibility over this audio message, we will have reasons to believe that they published it,” Monirul told the Dhaka Tribune over phone.

Though authenticity of the audio tape remained unconfirmed, this type of message raised concerns among the cross section of people as there was apprehension of further rise of Islamist militancy, radicalisation and terror activities.

According to the claim, Zawahiri’s audio voice came with footages of Hefazat-e-Islam’s violent rallies in Dhaka last year. The audio message was in Arabic and there was sub-title in English over the footages.

However, Kamal Ahmed, additional secretary (political wing) of home ministry, told the Dhaka Tribune: “We depend on our intelligence wing for any issue related to our internal security. According to our intelligence wing officials, the media report on al-Qaeda’s audio message is totally baseless, as they are yet to find any source to confirm the news.”

According to the subtitles, Zawahiri was saying, “Thousands are being killed in the streets of Bangladesh…  they have come out to protest the collusion of the anti-Islamic secular government with a bunch of transgressing secularists who are heaping insults and vulgar abuses on Islam and the Prophet of Islam, may peace be upon him”

He said hundreds of religious scholars were also facing “hardships, manhunt, imprisonment, trials, death sentences and life imprisonment without any guilt, except that they have taken a stand against the agents of this Crusade onslaught, who are being used as tools by the leading criminals of the western world to distort the image of Islam and poke fun at this religion, its Prophet, and beliefs.”

Zawahiri, the top leader of al-Qaeda, says: “My Muslim brothers in Bangladesh, I invite you to confront this Crusade onslaught against Islam, which is being orchestrated by the leading criminals in the subcontinent and the West against Islam, the prophet of Islam, and the Islamic creed, so that they may turn you into slaves of a despotic and disbelieving system.”

Though some parts of the message gives an idea that he was talking about the Jamaat-e-Islami leaders who are in jail and facing war crimes charges while some of them have already been awarded death  sentence, he did not mention specifically about them.

Similarly, the audio gives a sense that the al-Qaeda leader was talking about the propaganda of killing thousands of people after Hefazat’s May 5 rally at Motijheel. But Hefazat’s name was not mentioned specifically in the audio message.

Qawmi madrasa-based Hefazat in a statement yesterday said they and the Islamic scholars had no relation with the audio message.

Egyptian physician Zawahiri, born in 1951, is the leader of al-Qaeda. In 1993, al-Zawahiri travelled to the US, where he addressed several California mosques under his Abdul Mu’iz pseudonym.

The audio message said: “O’ scholars of Islam in Bangladesh! You must fight an ideological and propagational war against the secularists and atheists to expose the shallowness of their beliefs and ideas.

“You must highlight in front of the masses their failures, scandals, and the blind alley they are leading this country into.  At the same time, you must also elucidate the merits of the Shariah. You must shed light on the justice, freedom, glory, honour, chastity, and protection of ethics, values and human dignity which the Shariah calls for.”

Claiming that a massacre of Muslims was being carried out these days, and the Muslim world was totally oblivious to it, the message says: “The western media is colluding with the killers to belittle its significance and hide the facts. This is the bloodbath taking place in Bangladesh, without the Muslims paying the least attention to it.

“Bangladesh is the victim of the conspiracy in which the agents of India, the corrupt leadership of Pakistan Army, and treacherous power-hungry politicians of Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are always prepared to sacrifice everything for the sake of fulfilling their ambitions and desires, were all equal participants.”

But, the real victim was the Muslim Ummah in the subcontinent generally, claims the video.

It further says:”The crimes that are being committed in Bangladesh today against the core beliefs of Islam, the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him), and the Muslim Ummah are the only fruits of the rotten seeds sown by these criminals.

“Their purpose was not achieving independence from Pakistan, stopping the aggression against the people of Bangladesh, or getting rid of military rule in Pakistan. None of this was the real objective, even if these criminals took cover behind these slogans, parroted these lines and propagated this out of their malevolence or stupidity, or due to both.”

Claiming that independence of Bangladesh was a conspiracy of India and the Pakistan Army, Zawahiri says: “The real purpose was weakening the Muslim Ummah in the subcontinent. It was to rip the Ummah into pieces, and bleed it to death by getting it entangled in mutual strife, regional conflicts and wars.

“What is taking place today in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Afghanistan is only a prelude to the execution of this evil plan, and the aforementioned criminals are the tools of the enemies of Islam in this vile conspiracy. Those who massacred the Muslims in Bangladesh only yesterday are the same people who are massacring the Muslims in Pakistan today.

“Bangladesh which they claimed to have won from Pakistan so that it may get its freedom is being turned into a subjugated surrogate of India,” says the message.

Source: Dhaka Tribune


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