Fear and violence of Islamist attack continues to wreck Bangladesh as a Sufi Muslim leader was hacked to death by unknown assailants. The killing is seen as a reaction — in the undercurrent of ongoing religious-political turbulence –against the death penalty of a top Islamist leader for war crimes was confirmed two days ago. Although series of similar attacks in the recent past against liberals, bloggers, professors, activists and minority community were claimed by al Qaeda affiliated Ansar al Islam or a group which has linked itself to the Islamic State, no jihadi group claimed responsibility for the attack.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The dead body of Sufi leader, Mohammad Shahidullah, was found with deep gashes in his neck in a mango grove in Rajshahi on Friday night. The 65-year-old was missing since he left home in the morning. According to the local police, Shahidullah was not a popular leader but had few followers in near by villages.Rajshahi, located in the North of Bengal across the border from India has previously seen attack when a Ahmadiya mosque was bombed by local militants and a professor of English language was hacked to death in March.Both the attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group through its news affiliated channel Amaq agency. Rajshahi is a stronghold of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). The local police believes that some local militants have established contact with IS group leaders in Syria and have pledged their allegiance. The IS has accepted the militants as its formal alliance operating for jihad in Bangladesh.The police suspects Shahidullah was murdered by radical Islamists, the cause is still being investigated. In the last three years, 20 targeted killings have been carried by al Qaeda and IS linked militants. Police investigations in majority of these investigations have been attributed to members of Jamaat e Islami and its student wing Chhatra Shibir.Sufism has a wide influence and adherence in Bangladesh, similar to the syncretic traditions of Islam practiced in India, Indonesia and other parts of South Asia. This form of Islam is opposed by the radical Islamists who believe the practice in worshipping graves of saints and reaching out to Allah through music to be a deviation from the fundamental teachings of Quran. Sufi leaders and followers are thus apostates and therefore anti Islamic.But contrary to popular belief, Sufism is not always a softer version of Islam nor always non-violent. Massive protests had rocked Pakistan in February against the hanging of Punjab governor, Salman Taseer’s killer, Mumtaz Qadri who was a Sufi leader.It is not confirmed if the killing of Shaidullah is a reaction against the death sentence of top Jamaat e Islami Motiur Rahman Nizami who was convicted this week on genocide, rape and torture charges in the 1971 war. During the struggle of liberation, Nizami set up a militia that helped the Pakistani forces to identify and target pro-independence activists and leaders.


Sufi leader is latest victim of suspected Islamists in Bangladesh