Bangladeshi terrorists who hacked American blogger to death escape

Avijit Roy, photo by Dhaka Tribune, edited.

Two Bangladeshi terrorists who hacked an American blogger to death in 2015 managed to escape a crowded court in Dhaka on Sunday. Police said that bikers sprayed them with chemicals before taking away the convicts.

The Islamist militants had been on death row for killing Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy. Roy referred to himself as an engineer by profession and a blogger by passion.

Roy criticised religion in his writing, particularly Islam, Bangladesh’s dominant religion. After the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France in 2015, he posted a tweet comparing religion to a virus. He wrote in his final article that the massacre was “a tragic atrocity committed by soldiers of the so-called religion of peace.”

On February 26, 2015, militants hacked him to death with machetes outside of his home in Dhaka. The militants also caused Roy’s wife Rafida Ahmed serious head injuries and cut off her thumb. Rafida is also a blogger.

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Five militants were sentenced to death last year for hacking Roy to death, and one militant was sentenced to life in prison. The men are part of a group called Ansar Ullah Bangla Team, which is linked to Al-Qaeda.

Now that two of the militants on death row have escaped, police are on the prowl to catch them. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that a “massive manhunt” has been launched to capture the militants, Reuters reported. Police also announced an award of 2 million takas (US$19,350) for tracing the convicts.

Roy is not the only Bangladeshi blogger to be slaughtered by terrorists in his country. In 2013, blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider was also hacked to death by the Ansar Ullah Bangla Team. Haidar’s writings had been deemed by extremists as blasphemous against Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

Now two of the militants who killed Avijit Roy have escaped, time will tell if the police can catch them. Can Bangladesh get a grip on its issues with terrorism, and defend freedom of expression? We’ll see.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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