The chief of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed responsibility for killing several Bangladeshi and Pakistani secular writers, SITE Intelligence Group reported on Sunday, according to Reuters. Maulana Asim Umar also mentioned Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the video released by the militant group, as he spoke about Muslims being targeted across the world.
The latest video is being investigated by Indian officials, the Hindustan Times (HT), a local Indian newspaper reported, citing intelligence officials.
AQIS, headed by Umar, was reportedly formed in September as an attempt by al Qaeda to expand its operations in South Asia.
"Like the companions of the Prophet who defended him with their lives. ... The mujahideen of al Qaeda have despatched to hell many who blasphemed against God, and insulted the Prophet," Umar was quoted as saying in a statement, released online Sunday, according to India Today, a local news network.
Umar added that a war was being waged against Muslims “through World Bank and IMF policies, drone attacks, Charlie Hebdo’s writings, UN charter, official sermons by muftis and Narendra Modi’s utterances,” Zee News, a local news network, reported.
AQIS also claimed responsibility for killing Avijit Roy, the Bangladesh-born American writer who was hacked to death in Dhaka in February. Roy was a renowned atheist and had a blog named Mukto Mona (Free Mind) that denounced religious extremism and upheld more rationalist and humanist ideas. Roy and his wife had received several death threats over the blog's content.
Bangladeshi police officers had initially suspected Roy's murder to be an act of a local militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team, which had then claimed responsibility, Reuters reported. Roy’s family had reportedly said that radical Islamists were to be blamed for the attack.
"Now we have to investigate whether this Team is working as the branch of al Qaeda," Muhammad Habibur Rahman, Dhaka police chief, said, according to Reuters. In March, police officials had arrested Farabi Shafiur Rahman as the main suspect behind Roy’s death.
Other Bangladeshi bloggers for whose deaths al Qaeda claimed responsibility were reportedly Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, Rajib Haider and AKM Shafiul Islam. “The killing mission started in Pakistan with the murder of the secular Dr Shakeel Auj and blogger Aneeqa Naz,” Umar reportedly said.