Five members of an Islamist militant group were sentenced to death by a special anti-terrorism tribunal in Bangladesh’s capital for killing a Bangladeshi-American blogger.Aviijit Roy, a 42-year-old American citizen born in Bangladesh, was a renowned atheist blogger who spoke out against religious fundamentalism.
In February 2015, six Islamist militants attacked and assassinated Roy in the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh. When the militants assaulted him with machetes, Roy was walking home with his wife from a book fair. Rafida Bonya Ahmed, his wife, is also a blogger and was wounded in the attack.
The six men belong to the Ansarullah Bangla Squad, an illegal Islamist domestic militant group (ABT). When police linked the party to the murders of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers, the government outlawed the ABT in May 2015.
The prosecution submitted to the court as evidence close-circuit camera footage of the killing of Roy, video statements of the defendants, their confessional statements, and copies of text messages. Five of the militants were sentenced to death by Judge Majibur Rahman for murdering Roy.Army Major Syed Ziaul Haq was one of the convicts who got the death sentence.
Authorities assume that the army major is the ABT boss, and he was suspected by the prosecution of being the mastermind behind Roy’s killing. Haq was one of two men tried in absentia, however, and he remains at large. One of the six men was sentenced to life in jail by the tribunal.
The Islamic State and al-Qaeda-aligned militant groups conducted a series of attacks between 2013 and 2016, targeting and killing bloggers, secular activists, and religious minorities.
The attacks led the government of Bangladesh to concentrate more closely on arresting members of the extremist Islamist groups.