On October 31, 2015, a group of men stabbed Faisal Arefin Dipan, a publisher, to death at the offices of Jagriti Prokashoniin the capital, Dhaka, and then fled the scene, according to news reports. An autopsy report showed the publisher’s body had multiple stab wounds, according to reports.
The publishing house, in the Shahbagh area of the capital, released short stories, poetry, novels, and essays on progressive topics. Dipan’s company had published Biswasher Virus (The Virus of Faith), in 2014 by Avijit Roy, a blogger who received death threats after the book was published, according to reports. Roy was hacked to death in Dhaka in February 2015, CPJ research shows.
Dipan’s father, Abul Kashem Fazlul Haq, told journalists he suspected his son was targeted because he published Roy’s books, news reports said. Friends of the publisher said Dipan had filed a police complaint after death threats appeared on Facebook, The Associated Press reported. CPJ was unable to determine when the threats were made and whether they were posted to his personal or professional Facebook page.
Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent claimed responsibility on social media for the attack on Dipan and a separate attack the same day in which a publisher in Dhaka was severely injured, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist activity worldwide. One of the statements, which has been viewed by CPJ and which was posted on October 31, 2015, alongside a tweet by someone claiming to be part of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, said Dipan and the other publisher who was attacked were “worse than the writers of such books, as they helped propagate these books and paid the blasphemers handsome amounts of money for writing them. These secular and atheist publishers waged war against the religion of Islam in every possible ways. One of them also published books in support of homosexuality.”
Bangladeshi police said they were investigating the credibility of claims that Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent is responsible for the killing.
The court sentenced Syed Mohammad Ziaul Haque, Akram Hossain, Abu Siddique Sohel, Mozammel Hossain, Moinul Hasan Shamim, Md Abdus Sabur, Khairul Islam, and Md Sheikh Abdullah to death, and ruled that they had killed Dipan for publishing Roy’s book, those reports said.
Four of the convicted, Haque, Akram Hossain, Mozammel Hossain, and Sohel were also separately convicted and sentenced to death for their role in Roy’s killing, according to news reports. Haque and Akram are in hiding and were sentenced in absentia, while the others are in custody, according to the reports.
The defendants were all members of the banned militant outfit Ansar al-Islam, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, according to Al-Jazeera.