The Islamist terrorist group which authorities believe were involved in the murders of four bloggers in Bangladesh this year has reportedly issued a new hit list this week, targeting Bangladeshi bloggers internationally for the first time.
The list includes two people of Bangladeshi origin in the U.S., including Rafida Bonya Ahmed, the widow of one of the murdered bloggers, and several more people in Germany, the U.K., Canada, and Sweden, the Guardian reports.
The Ansarullah Bangla Team (A.B.T.), or Ansar Bangla, is the group that authorities suspect of being behind the murders, and were reportedly behind the hit list posted online this week, though this hasn't been confirmed by Bangladeshi authorities.
"Let Bangladesh revoke the citizenship of these enemies of Islam," a statement posted online with the list says, according to CNN. "If not, we will hunt them down in whatever part of God's world we find them and kill them right there."
Earlier this month Bangladeshi police arrested Mohammad Abul Bashar, the head of the A.B.T., in relation to this year's killings along with two other alleged members of the group. The group allegedly has ties to Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), who have claimed responsibility for at least one of the blogger murders this year.
The writers on the list remain defiant, saying they will continue to write and criticize the government and Islamists in Bangladesh.
"I have never been so terrified in all my life," Sobak, one of the bloggers on the list still in Bangladesh told the BBC, using his pen name rather than his real name out of concern for his safety. He told the news network that despite his fears he will continue to write and be critical of the government.
“Our weapon is [the] pen, and we can use it without hurting anybody. We just want to make people conscious about their rights. So that nobody can use them to fulfill bad intentions,” Ananya Azad, another one of the bloggers on the list told the Guardian from his exile in Europe.
The bloggers who have been killed were Hindu or secular, and have been critical of the continued influence of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party, though they are no longer in power in Bangladesh.
"There is a battle going on in Bangladesh between fundamentalists and secularists," Ajit Kumar Singh, a fellow at the South Asia Terror Portal in New Delhi, told CNN. "A blogger like Niloy Neel, the last one who was killed, was openly questioning fundamentalist thought. Organizations like Ansar Bangla wanted to shut him up—and scare others into not talking."
But the killings are about more than just religious differences: A war crimes tribunal was set up in 2010 to hold people accountable for atrocities allegedly committed during the country's war of independence from Pakistan in 1979—most of the accused belong to the Jamaat-e-Islami party. Protestors in the Bangladeshi capital demanded harsher punishments and swifter convictions for those found guilty, in what became known as the Shahbag movement. Many of the bloggers who have been targeted have either explicitly spoken out in support of the movement, or support the idea of the Jamaat-e-Islami holding less power.
Bangladeshi authorities, though they have made arrests in relation to the murders, have also reacted by warning bloggers against "hurting religious sentiment."