Leaked cable from 2008 reveals US concerns about Maldivian national’s “unspecified links to al-Qaida”

United States diplomats expressed concern back in October 2008 regarding the activities of “al-Qaida associates” in the Maldives.

In a leaked cable prepared by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the US reveals that the Maldives Police Service investigated and monitored the activities of Yoosuf Izadhy, Easa Ali, and Hasnain Abdullah Hameedh, the former of whom was believed to be in contact with a militant group in Waziristan with “unspecified links to al-Qaida.”

“Izadhy was clandestinely working to recruit others into his organisation, specifically seeking individuals who had undergone basic terrorism training in Pakistan,” the cable read, adding that Izadhy “planned to create a terrorist group in the Maldives with the assistance of the Waziristan-based group.”

In addition, the cable said that “Hameedh was in close contact with a number of individuals who had undergone training in Pakistan, including individuals who were members of Jamaat-ul Muslimeen and completed basic and advanced training by Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) in Pakistan. They followed the ideology of Abu Easa.”

Izadhy was among the nine Maldivians that Defence Minister Ameen Faisal said in April 2009 were “arrested with weapons” near the Pakistani-Afghan border. Two men were arrested in Waziristan, the religiously conservative mountain region of northwest Pakistan.

In addition to Ali Shafeeq, 25, of R.Kandholhudhoo, who was arrested for alleged involvement in the Sultans Park bombing in 2007 but later cleared of all charges and released, those arrested included: Yoosuf Izadhy, 38, of M.Nicosia in Male’, Ahmed Ashraf, 31, of Hdh.Vaikaradhoo; Abdullah Sameer, 38, of Sh. Lhaimagu; Ali Faiz, 31, of Hdh.Vaikaradhoo; Moosa Yoosuf, 30, of L.Kalhaidhoo; Yoosuf Mohammed, 52, L.Kalhaidhoo; Mohammad Zuhree, 28, of Gdh. Dhaandhoo; and Arif Ahmed, whose details were unavailable.

The Defence Minister told press at the time that all nine of these individuals had travelled on three separate flights to Pakistan between February 27 and the March 1, 2009.

In Feburary 2010, the Maldivian government repatriated the nine Maldivian nationals held in Pakistan, who had been arrested by Pakistani authorities following a military raid on several armed groups.

No charges were filed against the men, and they were released to their families. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Shaheed emphasised at the time that the nine men had not been formally charged and stressed that “the types of activities they are alleged to have been involved in, while illegal, do not necessarily fall under terrorism.”

The role of the Foreign Ministry, Dr Shaheed said, was to “repatriate Maldivians when it is in the national interest to do so” and “not to mix that up with judgements of character”.

President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News there had originally been 12 Maldivians arrested in Pakistan “but three died while they were being transported between facilities”

Reports the group were carrying weapons were “conflicting”, he said.

Sleeper cell

Concerns about plans by Lashkar-e-Tayyiba to establish a ‘sleeper cell’ in the Maldives periodically surface in the Indian media – the group is believed to be responsible for the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008. The attacks saw gunmen enter the city by sea before going on to kill at least 173 people and leave 308 wounded. President Mohamed Nasheed has since downplayed the claims.

While the cable describes the “operational aspirations” of Izadhy, Easa , and Hameedh as “unclear”, “past reporting suggests Maldivian extremists have demonstrated interest in actively participating in global jihadi activities by attempting to arrange travel and terrorist training in Pakistan.”

“While many Maldivian participants of extremist online forums aimed to ultimately fight Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, mid-October 2007 debrief information following the September 29 bombing in Male’ that targeted tourists indicates at least two of the operatives participated in the attack in exchange for travel from the islands after the operation and arranged study at a madrassa in Pakistan.”

The Maldivian government has repeatedly expressed concern about Maldivian nationals travelling to Pakistan for free ‘Islamic education’ at unmonitored madrassas.

The leaked cable further mentions “recruitment activity” in May 2008 for a Kashmiri offshoot of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba by a Maldivian national Ahmed Zaki.  The document refers to reports from 2006 detailing linkages between Maldivians belonging to a UK-based extremist group called Jama-ah-tul-Muslimeen (JTM) and an “anti-American Islamic extremist online forum called Tibyan Publications.”

“JTM is an extremist group based in the UK set up to follow an extremist ideology known as Takfiir that actively encourages violent jihad and supports criminality against apostate states,” the cable notes.

The US has stated that it will not comment on the specific contents of the 250,000 diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks.


16 thoughts on “Leaked cable from 2008 reveals US concerns about Maldivian national’s “unspecified links to al-Qaida””

  1. It is depressing to see that politicians seem to have a hard time acknowledging what common citizens have long known ago.

    While Ameen Faisal and President Nasheed and Shaheed have been 'downplaying' the threat, innocent people are being murdered elsewhere by our citizens.

    Just two weeks ago during Farah Pandith's visit, Shaheem kept up the denial, said there were no Al-Qaeda kind of organizations in the country.

    A couple of months ago, Minister of Islamic Affairs Baaree said there were no terrorists in this country.

    While these idiots bury their heads deeper in the sand, hoping the problem will go away if they don't acknowledge its existence, terrorists have been actively recruiting would-be mass murderers from our youth, brainwashing them with salafi ideology.

    Meanwhile, secular liberal bloggers - the only media that seems to report these things - keep getting denounced by the same Ministers and their followers for being 'anti-Islamic', every time they report these facts.

    Perhaps our government and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs is still trying to chalk up a convincing plan to somehow distinguish between Abu Easa's ideology and Adhaalath/J Salaf/Islamic Foundation ideology before they go public with this?

  2. I think travelling to other countries for Jihad is wrong.

    Be it Muslims,Atheists/Secularists, Jews or Christians.

    Maldivians should not travel to Pakistan or Afghanistan to sort out their indigenous matters.

    It will only aggravate and further complicate their matters.

    We have enough problems to solve right here in the Maldives.

    Islam today is not under a Caliphate for people to listen to dubious political figures in other countries and then act on their commands.

    The indigenous people or the rightful citizens of a country should fight their own causes - interference by people who are not related or who do not really know their real problems, is not going to help any one.

    If we get a chance - we can express our disapproval for wrongs that occur.

    But as far as Jihad is concerned, I always believe that we must start from our own being or closer to home.

    In this context, it would be wrong for Americans, Britons, Germans or anyone to invade other countries on the pretext of "war on terror" or "weapons of mass destruction" and try to interfere with local politics. I would say they are also fighting a religious war against the citizens of the countries they invaded.

    No one is trying to solve any problem of the world.

    It's just selfishness.

    We Muslims should not get too emotional with the plight of other countries, when we have our own problems to solve.

    Even the rules of engagement in an emergency tells us that we must first attend to ourselves and then think of saving others.

    Let's try to improve our local affairs first.

    Let's delve into our own politics and get elected to Majlis, Independent institutions to improve our own matters.

    If we say that there should be nothing that divides Islam and politics - then why are we staying away from Majlis, for a start.

    Why are there no religious people in our own Parliament?

    I would say - it's because we do not think about it.

    We MUST think about it!

    It is our constitutional right!

    Our constitution says that we must uphold Islamic values in all our local affairs.

    Right now I don't think the Majlis is full of people who are upholding Islamic values.

  3. The future of Maldives look extremely gloomy. Maldivian women who used to be very free and liberal seem to be like those women we see in Afghanistan who fear their husbands more than the devil himself. When I see women who cover their whole body with a shroud of black cloth here in our country I feel sorry for them. They really are not aware that they are mere prisoners living a life of slavery to their husbands or male relatives. Azhar University Sheikh very clearly says that this type of face veil is not Islamic but is a Saudi desert culture. There is one Maldivian woman in the Face Book with her photo (I suppose it is hers) in full face veil. So actually she has no face in the Face Book.

  4. very shoddy article, minivan has simply copied what was on leaked US Cable. There is no attempt to find out who these people are. For instance we dont know who this Ahmed Zaki or Easa Ali or Hasnain Abdullah Hameedh are; which islands they come from and their house names. These facts are required for maldivians to put two and two together.

  5. @ahmed

    I can give you information regarding one of the individuals, Hasnain Abdullah Hameedh. He is the son of former Chief of Protocol of the Foreign Ministry, Mr Abdulla Hameed. He got involved in the terrorists activities while studying in the UK. From there he went to Pakistan to do terrorist training.

  6. This isn't news. We know for a fact that terrorists do exist within our community. Sultan park didn't blow up by itself, nor were 50+ innocents Pakistanis killed by Mickey Mouse. Ali Jaleel is a name all the local mullahs praise day and night as a martyr. His video is on youtube, go check it out. The future of this country looks bad. We are living alongside extremists, Somali pirates, rapists, murderers...you name it, we have it.

    And all this while, the president, Shaheem and DJ Baaree have nothing better to do than say "There are no extremists in the Maldives".

  7. This is a real problem that needs urgent attention. Alternatives to studying religion in Pakistan, in my view, is the key to minimize radicalization in this country. It is puzzling to see how Maldivians perceive the arab-israeli conflict and the conflict in kashmir.

  8. We let extremism flourish by creating an intolerant state with intolerant leaders and an ignorant people. In addition to access to modern education we also need to change the constitution and let non-muslims exist as Maldivians, unless you want to to be buried in the mess we created. I predict the Maldivian people will choose the latter.

  9. Maldivians have been travelling to Pakistan for free Islam Education since the 1980s. The previous government thought it was a good will aid from Pakistan at that time and the Embassy of Pakistan in Male' played a majoy role in exporting Maldivian students to Pakistani Madrasas. It was only in year 2000 when the Maldivian government realised that this educaation in Pakistan was something more than just 'Islamic education', when some students staterted returning and spreading extreme beliefs in the Maldivian society. By then it was too late. Maldivians were fighting in Kashmir and have joined Taliban in Afghanistan too. Now its for Anni to end this saga. But the real question now is how is he going to end this spread of religious extremism within the country itself. And he has got some of them within his own government too !

  10. @yameen
    OR perhaps bari and Shaheem condone those acts of terrorism and that is why they are not willing to admit today mojority of the population are extremists and a substantial amount of Maldivians are already recruited for the cause of terror by Arabs.

    President can not do anything, cabinet ministers can not do anything, because they lose their salary and post if they said anything against this. the stupid constitution gives power like never before to whoever has a title Sheikh before the name.

    so we should blowup here in Maldives, not in Pakistan? or you mean a jihad of another kind?

  11. Obviously, those who go for jihad will justify with quran and hadith. Same way, those who are against it will justify the same. But I fear that people with power will use the situation to their advantage and make this country a police state. Erosion of civil liberties, privacy and freedom in the name of fighting the terrorists, is exactly what is happening in the US.


    Whatever happened to Muslim solidarity? If one part of ummah is attacked, isnt the whole ummah under attack? Is jihad obligatory only in the presence of a caliphate? If so, is sharia law obligatory only under caliphate? or atleast islamic state?
    If we pray for the liberation of Palestine in our Friday prayers, why not actually go and fight in the cause? We apparently can pray for them, but not fight for them.

    Not that I consider it jihad or support american foreign policy of interventionism, it is in reality a geopolitical conflict, if you really look past the conspiracy theorists. It appears as if Saudi-Salafis will only consider jihad when Saudi Arabia is attacked (when there obviously non-dubious king calls for jihad). But the irony is that the Saudi kingdom was the one who aligned with the British *against* the then existing remnants of a caliphate in turkey.
    Saudi Ulema don't have a monopoly on religion (or their offshoots such as Al-Qaeda). Or anyone for that matter. The truth comes out when it is free from political influence. Justice is served when it is seperated from politics too (whether it is sharia or any other law).
    It is interesting that saudi arabia enforces strict punishments for adultery/theft etc for ordinary citizens, but their royal family and their friends have drinking parties as revealed in this cable.

    Obviously, those who go for jihad will justify with quran and hadith. Same way, those who are against it will justify the same. But I fear that people with power will use the situation to their advantage and make this country a police state. Erosion of civil liberties, privacy and freedom in the name of fighting the terrorists, is exactly what is happening in the US.

  12. @ theekaaku

    "Is jihad obligatory only in the presence of a caliphate?"

    I don't think jihad always amounts to taking party in a brutal war the motive behind which is sometimes not very clear cut.

    Attending to your sick mother is also jihad! Preaching God's message is also jihad.

    "Whatever happened to Muslim solidarity? If one part of ummah is attacked, isnt the whole ummah under attack?"

    Muslim solidarity is very much alive. During the recent floods in Pakistan we Maldivian Muslims helped them as much as we could.

    Solidarity comes in many shapes and sizes.

    "It is interesting that saudi arabia enforces strict punishments for adultery/theft etc for ordinary citizens, but their royal family and their friends have drinking parties as revealed in this cable."

    I don't think Saudi royal family having drinking parties makes drinking 'halaal' in Islam.

    It is still 'haraam'.

    "Obviously, those who go for jihad will justify with quran and hadith. Same way, those who are against it will justify the same."

    You might be trying to mislead here. If something is proven by Quran and Hadith, then it will be justified. And it can go both ways. Like the judges in the supreme court who refer the same constitution. The verdict is sometimes unanimous and sometimes not.

    But in all cases the motive should be to serve justice and to uphold truth.

    That, is why I think when talking about jihad involving international borders there must be an overall judge or a caliph to give the final verdict, and there is none. So jihad in this case becomes dubious.

  13. damn u all...u r all responsible for this...u all careless ruthless greedy overpride egositic characters r ruining the ppl in this world...shame on u all...listen to me u fools...there is no nyd for arguing,shouting,fighting,stealing,killing,raping,abusing, or do any bad things...be normal humanbeing...dont try to b extraoedinary...and yaa this goes to u all powerful and rich ppl also cause u ppl keep on using ur wealth and power to influence terror over innocent ppl and u ppl juz chill out at home comfortably by giving some bucks to a shithead prik who is impatient for some money to do ur dirty little jobs...do me a favour donate 50% of your wealth to some charity and become clean...learn to get ur daily enjoyment by helping and supporting ppl not stealing and killing them...grow up paleez

  14. The current government's ''liberal'' policies and its growing ties with the Zionist would provoke extremism & intolerance among the muslim community. The result of such policies are seen in many Muslim countries.

  15. This goes to (Heck):
    Are you a fool.& r you a muslim,you only
    know the value of you'r own country.You dont know the value of Islam,as the Messenger (May Allah send blessing on him) said, Similtitude of my Ummah is like one body,if one part of the body is
    injured the whole body acompanys that part of the body in feever & sleeplessness.So you idiot if any muslim in any part is in state of sorrow
    we have be apart of them & try to help them.In the Hadith did he said Maldives only ?. He said The Ummah which means every Muslim around the world,it dosn't matter of any mazhab any raise as long as they are muslims.But you fools only understand that Hadith as it's talking only about Maldives....The Anti Islamic Law Maldives........ !
    Ponder you fools...... !


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