“We think the audio message which is being circulated in the name of Al-Qaeda or Zawahiri is a conspiracy. It has no relation with us,” Hifazat’s central Organising Secretary Azizul Haque Islamabadi told bdnews24.com on Saturday.
A statement by the organisation, widely believed to be funded by the Jamaat-e-Islami, quoted its chief Shah Ahmed Shafi and Secretary General Zunayed Babu Nagari as saying that Zawahiri and Al-Qaeda was a creation of ‘imperialist forces’.
“We do not know who is circulating this message, in what intention. We suspect it’s a new conspiracy against the country’s sovereignty and the Muslims of the country,” reads the statement.
The first two minutes of Zawahiri’s tape show footage of last year's May 5 police action at a Hifazat rally in Dhaka from where its supporters let loose widespread violence leaving several people killed and government and private establishments damaged.
Security forces then flushed out the Islamists from Motijheel’s Shapla Chattar after they declared an indefinite siege to the business disctrict.
The audio clip then hits out at the Western media's alleged silence on 'how Muslims are massacred in Bangladesh'.
“My Muslim brothers in Bangladesh, I invite you to confront this crusader onslaught against Islam, which is being orchestrated by the leading criminals in the subcontinent and the West against Islam, the prophet of Islam and the Islamic creed, so that they may turn you into slaves of a despotic and disbelieving system.”
Describing Bangladesh as a ‘huge prison’, the recording says the honour and dignity of the Muslims is at stake in the country.
In its statement, the Hifazat- said that it had been protesting peacefully and continuing its movement from a non-political position involving the people in support of its 13-point charter of demands to protect ‘Iman' and 'Akida', and the country’s sovereignty.
“Hifazat-e Islam has been showing patience by not engaging in violence and vandalism despite the Shapla Chattar tragedy, the government’s repression and oppression, attacks, lodging of cases, harassment and arrests of our activists.
“Frequent provocative conspiracies are being designed frequently against us through falsehood and libel to derail Hifazat-e Islam from its path of non-political peaceful stance.”
The Islamist outfit claimed the Alems (Islamic scholars) and students and teachers of the Kawmi madrasas were working to protect the country, becoming the enemy of those involved in oppression, repression, corruption, terrorism, falsehood and anti-Islam activities.
“As a result, conspiracies have been hatched several times to wipe Islamic education and Muslim thoughts off the country by resorting to falsehood claiming that the Kawmi madrasas and Alems are involved in so-called terrorism and militancy.”
The two top Hifazat-e Islam leaders further claimed that their ‘non-political’ organisation and the Alems had no connection with the audio message of al-Qaeda chief Zawahiri.
They said besides international Jewish lobbyists, the intelligence agency of a ‘big neighbouring country of Bangladesh’ and many other quarters were involved in plots against the madrasa education and the Alems.
Widespread allegations have it that the Hifazat leader Mufti Izharul Islam Chowdhury and his son Harun Izhar have connections with Afghanistan’s al-Qaeda leaders.