Minivan News journalist feared abducted

Information gathered by Minivan News strongly suggests that journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla was abducted in the early hours of August 8 in Hulhumalé.

Two eyewitnesses in Hulhumalé have reported seeing a man in dark clothes being forced into a vehicle at knifepoint outside Rilwan’s apartment at around 2am.

CCTV footage of the Malé ferry terminal obtained earlier by Minivan News shows Rilwan entering the waiting area at 12:44am wearing a black shirt, rather than turquoise, as had previously been reported.

A tweet from Rilwan’s account @moyameeha at 1:02am implies he was on the one o’clock ferry, suggesting he would have reached his apartment between 1:30am and 2am on August 8. Another man who claimed to have sat next to Rilwan on the ferry has also been positively identified on CCTV footage, entering the waiting area at 12:54am.

Neighbours claim to have heard screaming before seeing a man being forced into a vehicle. From a balcony 20 feet away they reported seeing a tall thin man holding his right hand over the captive’s mouth from behind.

The thin man was then seen to drop something before the car sped off, its door still open. One observer subsequently went down to the street and found the weapon before alerting police, who took statements and confiscated the weapon.

Further statements were taken from the witnesses after Rilwan’s family reported his disappearance on August 13. Minivan News understands that no other persons have been reported missing from Hulhumalé.

Minivan News has consulted with police regarding the disclosure of this information for fear of hindering the ongoing investigation. It is released now only after its appearance in other media.

Further analysis of CCTV footage from the Malé ferry terminal – conducted with security experts with experience in counter-terrorism – also shows a number of men who appear to be tracking Rilwan’s movements before boarding the same 1:00am ferry.

The experts also alleged an “unholy alliance” between gangs and religious radicals, as evident by a number of abductions in June. Two men were briefly held and accused of being ‘secularists’.

Blogger and journalist Ismail Hilath Rasheed had his throat slit in 2012 by a similar group after publicly calling for religious tolerance. He narrowly survived, and fled the country seeking asylum abroad. His attackers were never prosecuted and remain at large. The security experts informed Minivan News that Rilwan was also considered a target.

Hulhumalé – the location for the government’s ambitious youth-city ‘mega-project’ – has become attractive to radical groups due to its low levels of policing in comparison to the crowded capital island across the channel, they explained.

Residents of the Hulhumalé suburb interviewed during Minivan’s investigation reported an atmosphere of fear, with little trust in the police’s ability to protect them from the radical groups said to be increasingly common on the island.

The security experts suggested that many within the security forces had indeed themselves become radicalised – a claim previously made by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

On Friday (August 15), members of Rilwan’s family received phone calls and were also approached outside a mosque with anonymous warnings to call off the search efforts of around 30 friends and relatives.

The International Federation of Journalists, the Progressive Party of Maldives, and the MDP have all called on the government to speed up its investigations, with the MDP demonstrating outside the UN for greater pressure on the government.

President Abdulla Yameen’s Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali said the government is “deeply saddened and concerned” over Rilwan’s disappearance, while police continue to appeal for public assistance in the search.

Minivan News is grateful for all the police’s efforts and urges the public to work closely to coordinate search efforts with the Maldives Police Service.

Images of the suspicious individuals has not been included, in accordance with the police’s wishes


20 thoughts on “Minivan News journalist feared abducted”

  1. i say this again to the police.

    some of the radicalized police officers would be in on it. and they are protecting these thugs and extremists.

    we need our police to do their duties. and thats to protect and serve.

  2. If someone fitting Rilwan's description was seen being abducted right outside his apartment building in the time frame in which Rilwan would have reached his home from ferry, why did the police say in their press conference that they were unsure whether Rilwan had reached Hulhumale that night? This is questionable behaviour at best on police's part, highly suspicious at the worst.

  3. This is rather worrying and confusing. The Police spokesperson today appeared reluctant to confirm if Rilwan got off the ferry at Hulhumale. Yet they have a statement by an eyewitness who was abroad the same ferry. Wasn't he unable to confirm if he got off or not?

    What was the Police response to the kidnapping? I sincerely hope that reason we didn't hear about roadblocks, police searches of boats at Hulhumale harbour, or even enquires at all homes with cars was because the MPS actually asked the media including Minivan not to report.

  4. President in china selling mordiZ , while the fake muslims force the nude judges to implement death penalty and the so called democracy activists practice their slangs to communicate with europeans rgding the dire situation they help create in the maldives. Well mr president sell this godforsaken land to china and we will see how long islam lasts in the maldives .

  5. Of course it's a gang of radical islamists who are behind this. Many people don't realise terrorism is used more against their own people than against "kufar".

    People here are scared to stand up against extremists, because they can become victims. But in the long run people should band together and stop extremism from spreading before they completely destroy Maldivian culture and society. The danger to the Maldivian values comes from within, although extremist influence comes from outside.

  6. it is very clear that police are trying to find excuse not to investigate.. just covering the surface with "we are trying" like the case of afraashym, and place the label on a wanted criminal that they built.. politicians are part of this too, specially those radicals with beards.. il be waiting for them to kidnap me.. d thalhu mua knows me very well.. come if you dare.. im not the type who would stay still.. il take the lot of you with me... valhi jahan kerenyaa nikan ais bala.. varah rangalhah dhas koh dheynan.

  7. wonder why those two guys didn't inform police when they saw someone forcefully taken into a vehicle at a knife point.

  8. A journalist has disappeared and no news of him for more than a week..This news should worry each and every Maldivian and raise a lot of questions..Are we safe anymore?Isn't this the methods used to terrorize journalists and prevent freedom of expression in backward countries of the world? isn't this high time that places like Hulhumale get more police and better protection for its ever increasing residents? and however much we would like to ignore a nagging and terrifying sort of fear will remain within us when incidents like this happen. it is also a fact that there will be plenty of ways to make a person disappear in a country with so much of sea around us and in cases like this the ultimate outcome is usually not favorable..

  9. Here again I have to maintain my conviction that no activity takes place in this or any other country without police knowledge. This is true of Rilwan's disappearance. I can only allege that they even have the identities of the men who kidnapped Rilwan.

  10. There are comments made here, in my judgement, by people who are accomplices to Rilwan's kidnapping.

  11. this story is highly suspect. Why did this so called witness stay mum all this time after informing police. If it was me i will tell all my friends, family, enemy basically everyone. will call minivan and rabo tv, haveeru, tvm, vtv anybody who would listen. Now this witness suddenly appearing awaking from a coma after two weeks is very suspect. most likely this is drama.

  12. My two cents:

    Even if the police have a list of suspects, they must do their homework thoroughly before arresting them. Otherwise, the notorious justice system of the Maldives will just set them free because of "insufficient evidence". It's not going to be easy for the police to uncover this as it's most certainly a professional job.

    It sounds like a well planned and well orchestrated one. The timing, place and supposed methods used are clear indications. Hence, the culprits will have gone to some length to wipe out any clues that will link them to the disappearance of Rilwan.

  13. What you see now is most lightly a follow up of the radicalism that has sneaked into the country for the last three four years. In many countries like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and North African countries same radicalism sneaked in over years and is now a Civil war in many of them, tyrannizing ,killing and beheading their own people much same as the Cristian and Islamic medieval religious wars thousand year ago.

  14. Hopefully this will be the fate of other apostates and secularists. I hope they all get abducted similarly.

  15. This is infuriating to learn. I have been here 4 years and it is beyond belief what your progressive government allows. What is happening to this Paradise of Maldives the world is still seeing?

  16. This has to be taken very seriously and I hope MPS would carry out a very through and professional investigation. This country is not safe if people who plan and carry out these acts of terrorism roam freely!

  17. From Bangladesh Journalists Community based Network Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum-BMSF call Maldives Government to takes legal steps Journalist Rilwan kidnapping issue.

    K Kamal
    BMSF, Dhaka
    [email protected]

  18. At the night of Mr Rilwan's disappearance, there was a report of someone being forced on to a vehicle at knife point, at Hulhumale'. Did Police investigate the incident? If not, why not?


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