Islamic State (IS) terrorists have claimed responsibility for the execution of an Italian citizen on a street in Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital. According to an intelligence group monitoring jihadi threats, Cesare Tavella, 50, was shot three times by assailants on a motorbike as he jogged through the city’s diplomatic district.
Islamic State claimed that a “security detachment” had tracked the Italian aid worker and shot him with silenced weapons late on Monday night. Tavella was the project manager of Profitable Opportunities for Food Security, a programme of ICCO Cooperation, a Netherlands-based charity.
Tavella’s murder happened only two days after the Australian cricket team decided to delay its tour to Bangladesh after their government warned of possible militant attacks on ‘Australian interests’. It has since confirmed the postponement in the light of Tavella’s death.
After Australia, the UK and the US claim to have received information that militants might target their interests in Bangladesh and advised their citizens to limit their movements in the country.
IS’s initial claim of responsibility has since been challenged in Bangladesh. Witnesses to the murder reported hearing a number of shots, casting doubt on the initial IS claim about the use of silenced pistols.
According to bdnews24.com, investigating agencies have ‘no proof’ that IS murdered Tavella, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said.
“Primary investigations have negated the involvement of IS in this case,” he told reporters after meeting the Italian ambassador in Dhaka on Wednesday afternoon, “Italy too agrees there is no IS connection in Tavella’s murder.”
On a profile on the Couchsurfing website that bears his name, photograph, and location in Dhaka, Tavella said he was “curious to discover this great world we have and its people”. In a section on his personal philosophy, he had written: “My time here is too short not to try and enjoy it as much as possible in a healthy and positive way.”
Bangladesh is a country of more than 160 million people that has struggled to resolve profound disagreements over the role of religion in politics and society in recent years. Although officially a secular country, more than 90 per cent of its 160 million people are Muslim.
Bloggers have been targeted by some Islamic religious conservatives for daring to express secularist views. Four have been murdered so far this year.
The most recent was Niloy Chakrabarti, who used the pen name Niloy Neel. He was hacked to death with machetes in August after a gang broke into his Dhaka apartment.
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper two months before his death, Chakrabarti said he was scared that he would be killed and that he had tried to file reports with local police about continued harassment but was not taken seriously.
All of the victims had been active on social media, criticising the extremist Muslim ideologies that have gained strength in Bangladesh in recent years or arguing in favour of progressive causes. On his Facebook account, Chakrabarti frequently wrote in favour of women’s rights.
As reported previously by Breitbart London, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh has demanded David Cameron take action with regards to British Bangladeshis who she says are funding and exporting Islamism and terrorism into her nation.
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