DHAKA: Bangladesh today banned extremist Islamist group Ansar Al-Islam blamed for the brutal murders of several secular activists and atheist bloggers in the Muslim-majority country. A Home Ministry spokesman said an order was issued banning the militant outfit as "the group is involved in anti-state activities which are contrary to peace and order and a threat to public safety and security in the country."
The radical group, which claims links to Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, has claimed responsibility for a spate of gruesome murders of secular activists and atheist bloggers in the country that sparked a security crackdown on extremists. The ban was enforced as members of previously outlawed Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) regrouped under the banner of Ansar al-Islam, the Ministry said.
ABT was banned in May 2015 when one of its leaders was arrested and two members were sentenced to death for the murder of an atheist blogger in February 2013. The group also claimed responsibility for the 2015 murder of Avijit Roy, an American atheist author of Bangladeshi origin, gay activist Xulhaz Mannan, a magazine editor and bloggers Niladri Chattopadhyay and Nazim Uddin Samad.
It is the seventh radical extremist organisation, whose activities have so far been banned in Bangladesh. The six other groups already banned are Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami Bangladesh (HUJI-B), Hizb ut-Tahrir and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).