Two immigration officers and Afrasheem murder suspect among group of twelve jihadis

Two immigration officers and a suspect in the brutal murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali are among a group of twelve Maldivians to travel to Syria for jihad, reliable sources have told Minivan News.

Afrasheem murder suspect, Azlif Rauf of Henveiru Hilton, left to Turkey with six members of Malé’s Kuda Henveiru gang four days ago, sources have said. They have now crossed the border into Syria.

The two immigration officers were among a group of six individuals who traveled to Syria on December 27. The five included two women and a one year old infant.

Azlif’s group also included an individual arrested over the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan, one man arrested for issuing a death threat, one man classified by the police as a dangerous criminal, and three men with criminal records, local media have reported.

The Maldives Police Services declined to comment on the report.

According to Haveeru, Azlif had attempted to take his pregnant wife, one-year-old son and four-year-old daughter with him, but his wife’s family had prevented them from accompanying him.

Hussain Humam Ahmed, now serving a life sentence over the Afrasheem murder, named Azlif and five others in the organising of the killing in October 2012. Humam later retracted the confession claiming it had come under duress.

The police have forwarded accomplice to murder charges against Azlif to the Prosecutor General’s Office, but charges have not yet been filed at the Criminal Court.

The Criminal Court in December fined Azlif and ordered him to pay back a MVR50,000 loan to the Bank of Maldives.

An investigative report published by Maldivian Democratic Network (MDN) identified Azlif’s brother Arlif Rauf as the owner of a red car which may have been used in an abduction reported on the night Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan disappeared.

Eyewitnesses told Minivan News they saw a man being forced into a red car at knifepoint in front of Rilwan’s apartment building around the time he would have reached home on August 8.

According to MDN’s report, police were investigating Arlif’s car for having been illegally imported to Hulhumalé on August 4, and returned to Malé sometime between August 13 – 15.

It also suggested gang leaders had been exposed to radical Islam during incarceration in prison, saying that they openly supported the actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and recruited jihadists for the war in Syria and Iraq.

Last month, Home Minister Umar Naseer reported that there are more than seven Maldivians fighting in foreign civil wars.

In November, a jihadist media group called Bilad Al Sham Media (BASM) – which describes itself as ‘Maldivians in Syria’ – revealed that a fifth Maldivian had died in Syria.

BASM had made a threat to Rilwan shortly before his disappearance in which they stated ‘his days were short’.

Earlier in November, Sri Lankan police detained three Maldivians who were allegedly preparing to travel to Syria through Turkey.

The incident followed reports of a couple from Fuvahmulah and a family of four from Meedhoo in Raa Atoll travelling to militant organisation Islamic State-held (IS) territories.

This article previously incorrectly stated two immigration officers were among the group of seven Maldivians to travel to jihad in January. The officers were in fact among a group of six who traveled to Syria in December.

Related to this story

Six Maldivians reported as latest to travel for jihad, taking one-year-old infant

More than seven Maldivians fighting in foreign civil wars, reveals home minister

MDN investigation implicates radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance

Police detain Maldivian jihadis caught in Sri Lanka