Rapid Action Battalion members produce Rasel Bin Sattar Khan, who was arrested in Tangail for sharing on Facebook the audiovisual message said to be from al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, before the media at their headquarters in the capital on Tuesday. Photo: SK Enamul Haq
A youth has been arrested in Tangail for sharing on Facebook the audiovisual message said to be from al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, which urged Muslims in Bangladesh to wage an intifada (popular uprising) to confront the “crusader onslaught against Islam”.
Rasel Bin Sattar Khan, 21, is an admin of controversial Facebook page 'Basherkella' and some other pages believed to be run by extremist operatives, according to elite force Rapid Action Battalion.
Basherkella however denied the claim, saying it has no admin by that name.
A team of Rab detained Sattar at a students' mess at Majhipara area in Tangail town, our Tangail correspondent reported.
He is a third year student of Tangail Textile Institute, Miran Hossain, company commander of Rab-12, told The Daily Star.
Rab men later took Rasel to Rab headquarters in Dhaka.
Three mobile phones, two laptops and jihadi books and materials were recovered during the drive at 5:00am, according to a Rab text message we received hours into the arrest.
“I collect Islamic audio and video whenever I can. I have two blogs – amardeshbhabna.wordpress.com and amardeshbhabna.blogspot.com – and there is also a facebook page by this name,” Rasel said after being produced before media at Rab headquarters in the capital.
Soon after reports were published on different news websites and by television channels, Basherkella issued a statement denying any link with Rasel.
“Rasel Bin Sattar neither has any link with Basherkella, nor there is anyone by this name in our admin panel,” reads the statement.
The page also claimed that it did not publish or circulate the ‘fake’ audiovisual message from al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri at any time.
The arrest came two days after the media reported that al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in an audiovisual message urged people in Bangladesh to wage a massive uprising.
Posted in Jihadology.net, the message alleged thousands of people were being killed in the streets of Bangladesh for protesting the “collusion of the anti-Islam secular government with a bunch of transgressing secularists”.
The audiovisual message titled “Bangladesh: A Massacre behind a Wall of Silence” was released on January 14, but it surfaced in the media last Saturday.
“I accept that the video was publicized because of me,” Rasel added.
“There is a Facebook page named Dawahilallah, where someone made me the administrator. Due to my name being in that page’s admin panel, I was arrested,” he said in his defence.
Raising allegations that BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefajat-e Islam have links with al-Qaeda, ministers and ruling party lawmakers said al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's message reflected the statements of BNP, Jamaat and Hefajat.
In response to the allegation, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, "While the state minister for foreign affairs is unclear about the authenticity of the message, some ministers and ruling party leaders are linking it to BNP. The claim is not only illogical and false but also ridiculous."
Jamaat, a key component of the BNP-led 19-party alliance, also binned the allegation that the Islamist party has any connections with al-Qaeda.
Hefajat also refuted the allegation of having any ties with al-Qaeda.
The Facebook group Basherkella' came to the fore after the start of war crimes trial in Bangladesh.
Very active on other social media platforms especially Twitter, the group ran a massive campaign against the Shahbagh Gonojagoron Mancha after thousands of youths waged an uprising on February 5, 2013 demanding highest punishment to war criminals.
"We are Bangladeshi Muslims trying to practice Islam in broader social and political life. We want to see Islamic Statehood based on Justice, Freedom & Development in Bangladesh," reads the information put on the page.
The media earlier reported that Jamaat-Shibir activists used the Facebook page to exchange instructions about how to spread violence in the country as well as keep track of where their activists were demonstrating and fighting law enforcers.
With more than 6.7 lakh likes now, the page is being updated round-the-clock from different locations.
The Basherkella page is a support page of Jamaat-Shibir's original news website basherkella.com.
The page was opened on February 12, after or around the time Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory
Commission shut the original website along with about a dozen sites that were inciting religious sentiments against the Shahbagh movement.