US citizen arrested for funding Maldivian terrorist in Lahore bombing

A US citizen has been charged in the States with conspiracy to provide material support to a Maldivian terrorist who helped carry out a deadly attack in Pakistan in 2009.

48-year-old Reaz Qadir Khan, a waste water treatment plant operator for the city of Portland, US, was arrested on Tuesday (March 5) on a charge of providing advice and funds to Maldivian national Ali Jaleel.

On May 27, 2009, Jaleel – along with two other men – stormed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) headquarters in Lahore and detonated a car bomb that left around 23 people dead and a further 300 injured.

Prior to the attack, US media reported that in 2006 Khan had received an email from Jaleel “goading” him about his past devotion to seek martyrdom for Allah.

“Where are the words you said with tears in your eyes that ‘we shall strive until Allah’s word is superior or until we perish’???” the email stated, according to US publication The Oregonian.

Following the message, Khan had then allegedly communicated and provided financial backing through email to Jaleel and his family, making it possible for the Maldivian to attend a training camp in Pakistan ahead of the 2009 bomb attack.

The emails cited in the indictment against Khan – sent in October and November 2008 – were said to have included a coded note from Jaleel telling Khan that he needed US$2,500 to pay for admission into a terrorist training camp.

The Oregonian reported that Khan had replied to Jaleel instructing him to pick up the training camp money from one of his associates.

Jaleel, who later responded saying he only needed US$1000 of the US$2,450 that had been sent, was then advised by Khan to send the remaining money to his two wives in the Maldives, The Oregonian reported.

The indictment does not cite that there had been any other emails between November 2009 and the May 27, 2009 ISI attack.

However, US media reported that less than a week after the bombing, US$750 was wired from Khan to one of Jaleel’s wives from an Oregon store.

Khan, who has pleaded not guilty during a court appearance on Tuesday, could face life imprisonment if he is convicted at trial, US media reported.

According to The Oregonian, Khan must now remain in his Portland home until his trial on the terrorism-related charge begins.

Local media reported that Jaleel, who lived at H.Moscowge in Male, featured in a video on the internet showcasing his terrorist training and subsequent attack.

A member of Jaleel’s family told local newspaper Haveeru back in November 2009 that he had left “around a year ago” and that there had been “no further communication with him”.

Jaleel had been caught once before whilst on jihad and was sent back to Maldives. On 26 December 2006, he was also sentenced to two years’ house arrest for giving religious sermons and preaching without a licence, local media reported.

“Martyrdom was certain”

In a video released by Al Qaeda’s media outlet, 30-year-old Jaleel, referred to as Mus’ab Sayyid, can be seen speaking in front of the camera surrounded by an assortment of weaponry.

Jaleel calls for his teachers and those he knew who had taken the status of scholars to visit the Mujahideen and make “decisions” based on what they saw.

“I want my blood to be the bit of the carpet which the Mujahideen have painted from their blood. The red carpet which would take the Umar to its glory,” Jaleel says in the video.

The footage shows Jaleel going through various stages of training, including throwing what appears to be a hand grenade and firing various weapons. The video then cuts to footage of the attack.

A white van carrying armed men pulls up to what appears to be a police check point, before two men disembark and open fire on various individuals manning the post.

The van continues through the checkpoint before briefly stopping beside two men who had hidden behind a barricade, at which point the armed men appear to shoot them from inside the vehicle.

The video then shows the same white van pulling up to a large gate, before detonating the explosives.

The Pakistani government said at the time that the car bomb attack was carried out in apparent revenge for an army offensive against Taliban militants in that nation’s north-western Swat region.


Criminal court frees 2007 Sultan Park bombing suspect

The Criminal Court ordered the release of 2007 Sultan Park bombing suspect Mohamed Ameen from police custody on Thursday.

Ameen is said to be  a member of the extremist group Jama’athul Muslimeen, the leader of whom died in a suicide attack on the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence in 2009.

The suspect was taken to the court for an extension of detention after the two-month detention previously warranted by the court expired, according to Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef.

Haneef noted that the suspect had to be released as the court did not issue the extension.

However, he refrained from commenting on why the court released the alleged bomber.

Ameen was one of the Interpol’s most wanted and was not apprehended until October 2011 following a combined operation by Maldivian and Sri Lankan authorities.

The Criminal Court’s spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Manik told Minivan News that would clarify the reasons for Ameen’s release but had not responded at the time of press.

Local newspaer Haveeru meanwhile reported that the suspect was released by the court “on the condition that he not get involved in any further terrorist activities, and not leave the country.”

The 27 year-old  had reportedly fled the Maldives before the bombing took place on September 29, 2007. The bomb blast from a homemade IED (improvised explosive device) was the first bombing incident in the country.

The bomb blast at Sultan Park – a major tourist attraction in the capital located in front of the Islamic Centre – was triggered using a mobile phone and washing machine motor attached to a gas cylinder.

The attack injured 12 tourists, including eight from China, two from Britain and two from Japan. The incident received widespread publicity around the world, damaging the country’s image as a luxury tourism destination.

The attack meanwhile prompted the authorities to declare a state of high alert and arrest 12 suspects within 48 hours.

Terrorism charges were filed against 16 suspects, including 10 who had fled the country.

In addition to Mohamed Ameen, Interpol red notices were issued for Hussain Simaad, 25, of Baa atoll Dharavandhoo; Hassan Riyaz, 21, of Haa Dhaalu atoll Nellaidhoo; Mohamed Imad, 27, of Baa atoll Dharavandhoo; Abdul Latheef Ibrahim, 25, of Laamu atoll Kalhaidhoo; Mohamed Iqbal, 42 of Maafannu Naseemee Manzil; Moosa Manik, 20, of Seenu atoll Hithadhoo; Hassan Yoosuf, 24, of Laamu atoll Kalaidhoo; Ali Shameem, 25 of Shaviyani atoll Komandoo; and Ibrahim Maslamath of Maafannu Gold Ring.

Three men – Mohamed Sobah, 19, Moosa Inaz, 21, and Ahmed Naseer, 20 – were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in December 2007 after they confessed to the crime.

In August 2010, the former administration commuted the sentences of Ahmed Naseer and Mohamed Sobah from incarceration to three year suspended sentences under observation.


No fresh terror fears after Male’ bombing arrest, says President’s Office

The government has said it will not amend national security measures after police last week arrested a Maldivian man suspected of involvement in a bomb attack in Male’s Sultan Park back in 2007 upon his return to the country.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that Maldivian national Iqbal Mohamed had been arrested on arrival at Male’ International Airport from Pakistan, after authorities had been alerted of his movements by the International Police Organisation Interpol.

However, the President’s Office claimed that the arrest did not impact current security practices in relation to possible wider terrorist threats in the country.

The arrest was made in connection with a homemade bomb attack in Male’ in 2007, where a device built from components such as a gas cylinder, a washing machine motor and a mobile phone exploded injuring 12 tourists – several seriously.

Shiyam told Minivan News today that although Iqbal Mohamed was believed to have been in Pakistan at the time of the bombing, he had been wanted by police as part of their ongoing investigations into the 2007 attack due to an alleged role in the plan.

“He [Mohamed] is in custody right now,” added Shiyam, who claimed the Maldives Police Service was now waiting for the Prosecutor General to present a case against the suspect ahead of any potential trial in the Maldives.

“We really don’t why has had travelled back to the Maldives, but we have now arrested him.”

Mohamed, who is the subject of a red notice issued by Interpol, drew police attention after Interpol’s Major Events Support Team (IMEST), currently operating in Sri Lanka during the Cricket World Cup, identified the suspect as he was traveling through the country back to the Maldives.

According to Interpol, red notices are a system used to keep the 188 nations that make up its members informed of arrest warrants issued by judicial authorities. Although the notices are not formal arrest warrants, the organisation said that they are used to identify individuals wanted for crimes under a national jurisdiction.

Security focus

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said that he did not believe Iqbal’s return raised concerns about further potential attacks in the country.

He claimed that the country’s National Security Advisor had recently addressed the issue of religious fundamentalists after a request from the country’s Immigration Commissioner and found no additional concerns.

Zuhair added that the advisor had concluded that there was not thought to be any terror cells operating within the Maldives and claimed there was no need to further heighten national security against such threats.

The press secretary claimed that rather than facing possible arrest in a foreign country, Iqbal had perhaps returned to face more lenient sentencing that he claimed would be offered by the Maldives’ legal system.

After the attacks took place, 10 Maldivians and two foreigners were arrested in connection with the case. By December 2007, three men confessed to having roles in the bombing in court and were sentenced to 15 years prison.

According to the Attorney General’s office at the time, sixteen men had been charged under the terrorism act in relation to the Sultan Park bombing, including ten fugitives believed to be in Pakistan.

In August last year, the government had announced that it would commute the sentences of two of the three convicted terrorists found guilty of being responsible for the bombings under the Clemency Act.

The two men had their sentences changed from incarceration to three year suspended sentences under strict observation.

By comparison, Zuhair pointed to the case of nine Maldivian nationals that were arrested back in 2009 after allegedly being found carrying weapons near the Pakistani-Afghan border, who were facing strict punishments for their alleged offences.

Last April, as the Maldives and India was working on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding joint counter-terrorism measures, press reports in the country began surfacing claiming that concerns had grown over the likelihood that groups like Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba may have a foothold in the country.

The claims have not been officially confirmed and no serious attacks have occurred since the 2007 bombing.


Government decreases sentences of Sultan Park bombers under Clemency Act

The government has confirmed it has commuted the sentences of two of the three convicted terrorists responsible for the 2007 bombing of Sultans Park in Male’, under the Clemency Act.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said the pair, identified by local media as Ahmed Naseer and Mohamed Sobah, were “not granted clemency, but had their sentences decreased.”

The two men had their sentences changed from incarceration to three year suspended sentences under observation.

”Their punishment was delayed by the lawful offering of a suspended punishment,” said Zuhair, indicating that “they will be well observed.”

Naseer and Sobah were convicted for 15 years on charges of terrorism, ”but they were not the people who were in charge of doing this, they did not having the highest involvement,” Zuhair said.

He added that the government wished to “provide an opportunity for everyone to be involved in the society, and the opportunity to rehabilitate and recover.”

The bomb attack near the Sultan Park was the first such incident to occur in the Maldives and received widespread publicity around the globe, damaging the tourism industry.

The incident occurred on September 29 2007 in Sultans Park,  near the Islamic Centre.

The homemade bomb, which consisted of a gas cylinder, a washing machine motor and a mobile phone, injured 12 foreign tourists several seriously.

The tourists hurt included eight from China, two from Britain, and two from Japan.

10 Maldivians and two foreigners were arrested in connection with the case, and in December that year three men confessed in court and were sentenced to 15 years prison.


Two-time escaped convict apprehended on ‘Garbage Island’

Police have apprehended an escaped convict from Maafushi jail, who escaped midway through last year.

Abdulla Ali Maniku from Bahaaruge Haa Alif Molhadhoo had been on the run since 17 June 2009.

The 37 year-old was originally arrested and charged for his part in the clashes between religious extremists and security forces on Alif Alif Himandhoo on 7 October 2007.

Police said Maniku also escaped from the jail early last year, when he was caught in Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo. While being transported back to Male’ he again gave the authorities the slip by jumping into the ocean near the island of Vaavu Felidhoo.

He was recaptured on 4 January on Kaafu Thilafushi, a heavily industrialised island seven kilometres west of Male’ known colloquially as ‘Garbage Island’.

In 2007, the government cracked down on religious extremism after a home-made bomb exploded in front of Sultan Park in Male’ on 1 October. The attack injured 12 tourists.

After the attack, police arrested ten suspects. A week later, more than 100 security personal searched the island of Himandhoo for people suspected to be linked with the attack.

The police and many of Himandhoo’s residents clashed violently, leaving many injured on both sides. More than 50 people were arrested and taken to Male’ for questioning.

Ali Maniku is currently being held by the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS).