The Bangladeshi government has started investigating the origin of an audio message allegedly by al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri who has urged the Muslims in Bangladesh to wage an intifada to confront the “crusader onslaught against Islam.”
Asaduzzaman Kamal Khan, State Minister for Home, told journalists on Sunday that the country was capable of handling threats.
The al-Qaeda chief, in a posting on the Internet, alleged thousands of people were being killed on the streets of Bangladesh for protesting the “collusion of the anti-Islam secular government with a bunch of transgressing secularists.”
When asked, the Minister said, “We are not seeing it as a threat because people in Bangladesh will not allow terror to take root. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said the government was in touch with the U.S. and U.K. to verify the voice.
The message in Arabic was released on January 14 and the country’s media outlets gave it a wide coverage. However, it raises a doubt whether it was from the al-Qaeda chief or cooked up by local radical groups to fan violence.
The Jamaat, Hifazat and other ultra-right groups in Bangladesh over the past months called for ‘uprising’ against the Awami League government and attacked it for upholding secularism, equating it with atheism.
The audiovisual material posted on the Internet was backed by photographs of radical Islamists, particularly from the May 5, 2013 violent Hefajat-e Islam rally in Dhaka and the subsequent crackdown by law enforcers on it. However, the Hifazat-e Islam claimed that it has no connection with the audio message.
It said: “Hundreds of callers to the religion and scholars are also facing hardships, manhunts, imprisonment, trials, death sentences and life imprisonments without any guilt.”
“Those who massacred the Muslims in Bangladesh only yesterday are the same people who are massacring the Muslims in Pakistan today. Similarly, those who allied with India against Pakistan by claiming that they sought to defend the honour and sanctities of Bengalis are the same people who are attacking Bengalis today.”