Police in Bangladesh revealed they arrested one of the main suspects in the 2016 murder of LGBTI activist and editor Xulhaz Mannan. The group of men also murdered his friend, Mahbub Tonoy.
According to BD News 24, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested Asadullah Tuesday (15 January) evening. It happened during a raid in Tongi, a township of Gazipur.
Asadullah, 25, is a member of Ansarullah Bangla Team, a banned militant group operating in Bangladesh.
Police took Asadullah into custoday and gave him a detention order of three days on Wednesday.
Xulhaz Mannan’s story
Before his death, Mannan was the senior editor of Bangladesh’s only LGBTI magazine, Roopbaan. He was also the organizer of Bangladesh’s Rainbow Rally, a protest for LGBTI rights held on 14 April since 2014.
In 2016, a group of men killed Mannan and Tonoy using machetes in a gruesome display of violence. According to police, they entered an apartment in Dhaka, the capital, and then attacked their victims.
His death was one in a string of murders against the country’s atheist and intellectual communities that year. Authorities banned extremist groups following the deaths.
One year after his murder, an exhibit beautifully honored Mannan and other members of the community.
Where the case stands
Asadullah is one of four men arrested for killings that year, including Shams aka Siam aka Sajjad, Saimon aka Shahriar, Abdullah aka Jubair aka Zaid aka Jabed aka Abu Umair.
Md Monirul Islam, head of the police’s counter-terror unite, detailed Asadullah’s involvement in Mannan’s murder in a press conference.
‘There were seven people who took part in the killings,’ he explained. ‘Of them, five went inside the building. Meaning, the killing mission involved five. Asadullah was among those five men.’
Police further said Asadullah was one of two men who wounded the apartment complex’s security guard using machetes.
‘Asadullah was a member of [Jamaat’s student wing] Shibir before he joined the Ansarullah Bangla Team,’ Monirul continued.
Shibir is the student organizaiton wing of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islam, the largest Islamist political party in the country. In 2013, the Bangladesh Supreme Court ruled the registration of Jamaat-e-Islam illegal. Numerous leaders of the organization have been accused of war crimes.