Interpol has criticised media reports in the Maldives following claims that it was hunting two Maldivian nationals over alleged plans to attack the 2011 Cricket World Cup event, adding that it had no such information.
In a statement released today, Interpol said a report in local newspaper Haveeru inaccurately cited it as stating that it was searching for two Maldivians suspected of involvement in a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) terror plot.
Interpol also reiterated claims made earlier today by the Maldives’ National Security Advisor denying any knowledge of Maldivian involvement in any reported terrorist plots targeting the Cricket World Cup.
“An article entitled ‘Interpol on the hunt for two Maldivians involved in planning Cricket World Cup attack’ and published in the newspaper Haveeru on 26 March 2011 in the Maldives contains serious inaccuracies which require a correction by the newspaper and an express denial from Interpol,” the organisation stated.
“The article states that ‘Two Maldivian nationals, who are believed to be connected to a Pakistani terrorist group, are now wanted by the International Criminal Police Organisation – INTERPOL – for conspiring to attack international cricketers during the ongoing 2011 Cricket World Cup.’ In fact, there are currently no Maldivians wanted for arrest by Interpol for conspiring to attack any of the 2011 Cricket World Cup events.”
Interpol claimed that a reported confirmation from ” officials” cited in the article, alleging the involvement of “four Pakistanis, two Maldivians and an Afghan” in an alleged terror plot had not been made as the organisation had not received any such information.
Interpol’s statement followed similar claims by Ameen Faisal, the Maldives’ National Security Advisor, who denied that the country’s security forces had been involved in any investigations concerning Maldivian involvement in alleged terror attacks targeting the ICC tournament.
Faisal today issued a statement claiming that Iqbal Mohamed, a suspect taken into custody earlier this month and identified in press reports as being involved in alleged plans to strike the tournament, had been arrested solely in connection to an earlier attack that occurred in Male’ in 2007. After being taken into police custody on March 10, Iqbal was released by the Criminal Court this week after police reportedly did not supply required information to detain him further.
The statement from Faisal was released to media just twenty four hours after Maldivian police told Minivan News that they had not been supplied with any information relating to an Interpol hunt for two Maldivians accused of being part of a wider terrorist group targeting the high profile cricket tournament being held in Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh.
Attempting to clarify the arrest of a terrorist suspect made at Male’ International Airport earlier this month, Faisal stated that he had no knowledge of any involvement of Iqbal in plans to attack the Cricket World Cup as alleged by international media, including the Times of India.
“Iqbal Mohamed is a Maldivian citizen who had an Interpol Red Notice issued against him in connection to an improvised explosive device which was detonated in Sultan Park, Male’ on Saturday, 29 September 2007,” said Faisal in a statement.
“Iqbal Mohamed was travelling back to the Maldives from Pakistan, via Colombo, when the Interpol’s Major Events’ Support Team, who was in operation due to the ICC Cricket World Cup, identified him and informed the Maldivian authorities in coordination with the security agencies of our friendly neighbouring countries.”
Faisal added that the Maldives had been grateful for the assistance provided by Interpol and regional police services.
Iqbal’s arrest was related to questioning over 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.
Although police sources have previously claimed that the suspect was believed to have been in Pakistan at the time of the bombing, Iqbal had still been wanted by authorities as part of their ongoing investigations into the 2007 attack over an alleged role in the plan.