Avijit Roy murder: Bangladeshi police arrest 'radical Islamist' over the murder of American-Bangladeshi blogger

Hundreds took to the streets of Dhaka to protest following the blogger's murder

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The Independent Online

A radical Islamist has been arrested over the murder of an American blogger who was hacked to death in a machete attack.

Farabi Shafiur Rahman was detained by Bangladeshi authorities over the murder of an atheist American-Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy last week.

A spokesman for the police’s elite Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) said that Farabi had been arrested at a bus station in the capital, Dhaka, over the killing.

Rab spokesman Major Maksudal Alam said: “He is the main suspect.”

The spokesman said: “He is a fundamentalist blogger,” adding that according to “primary information” Farabi had threatened Roy on numerous occasions over Twitter and Facebook before.

Roy was hacked to death with a machete in Dhaka last Thursday.

He was the founder of the Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog and had authored a series of books including the best-selling The Virus of Faith.

He was born in Bangladesh to a family of scholars but moved to Atlanta, Georgia around 15 years ago.

Roy and his wife, Rafida Ahmed, who was also badly injured in the attack, had been returning from a book fair when they were hauled off their rickshaw by two attackers who then slashed them with the machetes.

Avijit-Roys-wife.jpg
Avijit Roy's wife Rafida Ahmed Banna, who was seriously injured by unidentified assailants, at Dhaka Medical College hospital

Farabi was paraded by the Rab before the press at its headquarters in Dhaka where another spokesman, Mufti Mahmud, said that he was a member of banned pan-Islamist outfit Hizbut Tahrir.

“On different occasions he exchanged [Roy’s] location, his identity and his family’s photographs with various people,” he told reporters.

“He wrote: ‘Avijit Roy lives in America. So it’s not possible to kill him at the moment. But when he’ll return to the country, he’ll be murdered.”

A former Physics student at a top university, Farabi was detained in 2010 after he joined Hizbut Tahrir and was arrested again after the murder of another atheist blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haiderm in February 2013, but was released on bail.

Roy is the fourth writer to have been attacked in Bangladesh since 2004. His killing was greeted by uproar in the country and abroad, with hundreds of activists holding protests for days.

The US condemned the killing as a “shocking act of violence” and an assault on the country’s “proud tradition” of free speech.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters: “This was not just an attack against a person, but a cowardly assault on the universal principles enshrined in Bangladdesh’s constitution.”

Roy father said on Sunday that, whilst Islamist militants were responsible for his son’s death, he blamed the police for failing to protect him despite repeated threats on his life.

“I am speechless at this moment of mourning. When the fundamentalist threatened, I informed the Inspector General of Police and Deputy Inspector General of Police, this murder has proved their utter failure.”

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