Al-Qaeda branch takes credit for killing Bangladeshi LGBT activists

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Two LGBT rights activists were hacked to death in Bangladesh yesterday, including the editor of Roopbaan, the country's only LGBT magazine.


The Associated Press reports that a terrorist group and Al-Qaeda subsidiary, Ansar al-Islam, appeared to claim responsibility for the attacks:

The group said in a Twitter message Tuesday that its members targeted Xulhaz Mannan, the editor of Bangladesh's only gay rights magazine, Roopbaan, and his friend Tanay Majumder.

It said the two were killed Monday because they were "pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh" and were "working day and night to promote homosexuality."


Yesterday, hours after learning of the murders, Roopbaan posted this video of Mannan as a memorial:

Being gay in Bangladesh is illegal, the BBC reports, but the killing of the two activists suggests that the LGBT community is in greater danger of being persecuted by extremist Islamist groups. Other activists say they have received threats and fear for their lives:


Ansar al-Islam has claimed responsibility for at least five murders of independent bloggers, writers, and publishers in the past year, most of them hacked to death with machetes. Just this month, a university professor and a law student were hacked to death in separate attacks.


Writers and human rights groups protested the murders last year and have said police are not providing enough protection for people who could be targets for these attacks. Police in Dhaka deny that any terrorist groups are operating in Bangladesh.

The recent revival of extreme Islamist groups in secular Bangladesh could be connected to the Shahbag movement, in which Bangladeshis have demanded that Islamist leaders be held accountable for alleged war crimes committed during the country's War of Independence from Pakistan in 1971.

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