Nasheed’s family raises fear of an assassination plot by security forces

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s family has raised concerns over a possible plot within the security forces to assassinate the imprisoned opposition leader.

Speaking to the press today, former First Lady Laila Ali said a very close friend whom she trusts and “could not help but believe” shared information that Nasheed would either be hanged with a note saying he could not remain in jail for 13 years or “disappeared” like Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

As the source was certain of the authenticity of the plans and had learned of it from two Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers, Laila said the information was “too serious to ignore.”

Nasheed was found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to 13 years in prison last Friday. Home Minister Umar Naseer has since said the former president would be kept at the Dhoonidhoo detention centre until a “prison apartment” could be built in Maafushi jail.

“I’ve never feared he might be killed while in jail. It is deeply saddening [that he is jail]. But I’ve never thought he might not come out [alive] when he completes his sentence,” she said.

Nasheed’s brother Ibrahim Nashid said he was certain no inmate would harm the former president and said the family had been reasonably certain Nasheed would return alive when he had been jailed under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

“I was previously certain it would never go that far. But now anything can happen.”

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokersperson Imthiyaz Fahmy told the press yesterday the party has also received information of the alleged assassination plans.

Fahmy referred to rumours of plans to kidnap Nasheed from Dhoonidhoo Island and expressed concern at lax security arrangements at the police detention centre.

“There is only one security personnel where he is kept at Dhoonidhoo. We don’t believe that there will be any security for him. The party believes there is room to organise an attack on him,” he said.

Laila meanwhile said today that she has written to President Abdulla Yameen and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as well as the home minister and police commissioner seeking assurances of Nasheed’s safety.

“In my letter, I expressed my grave concern and told them my husband is in your care. You must give me assurance, in writing or by your actions, that he would not come under any physical or psychological harm.”

The former first lady said she is awaiting a reply, but would make her letters public if she did not receive assurances from the government.

Laila said that she last talked to Nasheed on Tuesday night and shared her concerns. Nasheed told her that police officers had said they would increase security and patrol the island.

Laila noted that Nasheed has also been deprived of legally mandated MNDF protection since his arrest.

Laila said she now feared for his life, adding that she constantly heard of possible attempts to kill Nasheed since the “coup” in February 2012.

Meanwhile, at a press conference today, Police Superintendent Hamdhoon Rasheed dismissed the MDP’s allegations of plans to assassinate Nasheed as false.

Nasheed was safe and under police protection at the detention centre, he said.

“Environment of violence”

British MP for Salisbury John Glen also raised concern over Nasheed’s safety in Westminster today, questioning Leader of the House of Commons William Hague over possible sanctions against the Maldives.

“Although it is believed that he is safe in Dhoonidhoo, it is expected that when he is moved to Maafushi island, there will be real concerns for his safety. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that the Foreign Office is doing all it can to highlight the concerns of Nasheed’s supporters, and can a statement be made to the House about sanctions and whether they should be taken against this much-misunderstood set of islands?” the MP asked.

In reply, Hague said he was deeply concerned over Nasheed’s sentencing and said the UK continues to monitor the case closely.

“We are pressing the Government in the Maldives to give international observers access to any appeal hearing and to allow them to visit the former President in prison,” he said.

Urging calm in the Maldives Hague said, “We have called on the Maldives to follow due legal process. The Foreign Office Ministers were the first to make a strong statement, making it clear that we are monitoring the case closely.”

In a statement on March 16, human rights group Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) also expressed concern over the “rising environment of violence” and threats to Nasheed and other political figures.

The NGO said it has received information of plans to kill Nasheed in Maafushi after instigating a prison riot, referring to previous outbreaks of violence at the jail, including the shooting of inmates in September 2003 and the death of an inmate last year after a fatal stabbing.

“An investigation is still pending and police are yet to inform the public about the progress of the investigation,” MDN said in reference to the latter incident.

Moreover, the NGO said it has also received reports suggesting “violent groups have been hired to harm and kidnap” opposition MPs.

“We believe that the law and order situation has become extremely fragile in the Maldives, and implore the international community to have a presence in the Maldives to prevent further disorder and to ensure a quick and smooth transition to peace and harmony,” MDN said.

MDN called upon international anti-torture organisations to send missions to the Maldives “where they can monitor the safety of former President Mohamed Nasheed.”


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Jamiyyathul Salaf calls on government to cancel “sinful” Sean Paul concert

Islamic NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf has called on the government to cancel a New Year’s eve concert featuring Jamaican artist Sean Paul in Malé, a day after an online group threatened to kill the singer should he visit the Maldives.

The NGO’s President Abdulla bin Muhammad Ibrahim said the ‘Tourist Arrival Countdown Show’ on December 31 would encourage youth to remain ignorant and sinful and said the state was “investing in destruction” by funding the show.

“Instead of ensuring the youth, who are the future of this Islamic country, are educated in the ways of Islam and reformed into being religious, the wealthy are encouraging the youth to remain in their ignorant state by getting intoxicated with music and other sinful activities,” said Ibrahim.

The Facebook statement went on to accuse government leader of “keeping the youth on the attractive footsteps of the devil” by arranging the celebration, calling for its cancellation.

“I further call on all brothers and sisters to refrain from participating in such misleading actions, and to do whatever you are capable of doing, in whichever field you can, to ensure that such activities cannot be carried out,” he continued.

The sponsors of the event will “regret their actions on the day of judgement,” added Ibrahim.

Salaf’s statement comes in the aftermath of a video posted on December 25 threatening Sean Paul with death.

“If you visit the Maldives, the world will see your burnt and blood drenched dead body,” read the message in the Youtube video.

The video bore the logo of  Bilad Al Sham (BASM), an online group that claims to represent Maldivian militants in Syria. However, the group has denied any involvement in the video’s production.

BASM did, however condemn the concert as “filthy” and “part of the ideological attack being waged by the kuffar and their allies on the Muslim youth to take them further from their Deen.”

Police have confirmed that they are investigating the video and said they will strengthen security at the Galolhu Football Stadium where the concert is to take place.

“We are investigating the video. We also urge the public to not be alarmed or intimidated at all by the video. We are further strengthening security measures in response to the video,” a police spokesperson told Minivan News today.

Police have also issued a press release assuring the public that appropriate security measures would be taken and that a security plan, which includes blocking traffic in areas adjacent to the stadium, has been formulated.

The police said it is confident it can assure the safety of all concert goers based on its experience of overseeing security at international football matches at the Galolhu Stadium.

In addition to Jamiyyathuh Salaf, Adhaalath Party Vice President Dr Mauroof Hussain has also expressed his disapproval with the concert.

“I don’t like the planned new year eve show but I abhor more the extremism of some people issuing death threats which is more unIslamic,” a tweet dated December 26 from Dr Mauroof’s official account read.

The Adhaalath Party’s only parliamentarian Anara Naeem has meanwhile tweeted, saying the youth need Islamic education and not ‘music 24 hours’.

In a second tweet, she criticised the imitation of “Western” culture and celebration of Western festivals.

Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has commented on the threat yesterday via twitter, saying: “Bringing foreigners to hold shows coinciding with the New Year is unacceptable. Issuing death threats is also unacceptable.”

Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb has also condemned the video, saying that the government would not give in to threats.

The last major Western artist to perform in the capital was Irish singer Chris De Burgh in 2012. Prior to this, a concert featuring R&B singer Akon in 2010 was cancelled, with the event’s managers citing technical and security concerns.

Related to this story

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UK police to investigate death threat sent to former President Nasheed

No additional reporting by missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has lodged a complaint with the counter terrorism command of the Metropolitan Police Service in the United Kingdom following a death threat sent to his phone.

The former president’s office revealed in a statement yesterday that the case was filed on Friday (October 3). The opposition leader is currently in the UK to attend the Conservative Party Conference.

This threat is one of a line of threats from Islamist extremists,” reads the statement.

“The latest threat follows on from an attack upon the headquarters of the Maldivian Democratic Party [MDP] and an attack upon President Nasheed’s home in the Maldives.”

Shortly after midnight on September 26, the MDP’s office was set on fire following two consecutive nights of vandalism of the main opposition party’s office and numerous death threats sent from unlisted numbers to MDP MPs, the party’s senior members and dozens of journalists.

On the same night, the door of former MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor’s residence was set ablaze whilst crude oil was thrown on Nasheed’s residence the previous night.

The statement from the former president’s office accused Maldivian police of not making “any moves to investigate these crimes” to date.

“President Nasheed has reiterated his concerns of growing fundamentalism and intolerance in the Maldives and more recently an attempt by Islamists to use criminal gangs to pursue crimes of this nature. Currently Maldivian Police appear unable to act to protect the lives of Maldivians. This issue of terrorism cannot continue to be ignored,” the statement read.

The UK police are investigating the death threat to trace its origin, the statement added.

“The information shared by UK police so far is that the texts received from the ‘private’ number are threats sent through,” Nasheed tweeted today.

An IT expert with experience in the telecommunications field told Minivan News in August that it would be difficult to identify the culprit if the text messages were sent through an online mass text message service.

“Unless it came from a local IP address it would be almost impossible to trace it back. If they used anonymous proxy servers to send the texts it could be traced back to the SMS gateway, but no further,” he said

Nasheed previously revealed on Twitter that Eid greetings were sent to his phone from the same number that sent the death threat.

Radicalised gangs

Prior to departing for the UK, Nasheed told reporters that radicalised gangs were behind the recent “atrocities” in the capital, noting that extremist religious indoctrination of youth was a relatively recent phenomenon in the Maldives.

“In my view, one of the most important reasons the government has to think deeply about this is because certain people are instilling their interpretation of Islam in the hearts of the boys in these gangs,” he contended.

Nasheed claimed that many young men from criminal gangs were seen in a protest march held in Malé on September 5 with participants bearing the militant organisation Islamic State (IS) flag and calling for the implementation of Islamic Sharia.

Of the approximately 150 participants, Nasheed claimed most were “active in gangs.”

“So youth in gangs are turning to ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] ideology. That activities of ISIS are happening in the Maldives is becoming very clear to us. And while this is happening, the government is unable to stop gang activities,” he said.

Meanwhile, MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News last month that death threats have become too commonplace to publicise each incident.

Following a rally in September, MDP MP Eva Abdulla received a text message threatening a suicide attack at the next MDP gathering. The message threatened to “kill off” MDP members and vowed to “fight to the last drop of blood.”

Several journalist were also sent a text message warning them not to cover “the incidents happening in Malé now.”

“This is a war between the laadheenee [secular or irreligious] MDP mob and religious people. We advise the media not to come in the middle of this. We won’t hesitate to kill you,” read the threat.