IS enforces death penalty against Maldivian recruit

The militant organisation Islamic State has enforced the death penalty against a Maldivian recruit in Iraq.

Haveeru reported today that the Maldivian was thrown off the top of a tall building last month.

He was sentenced to death by an IS court, the newspaper reported, but the alleged offence is unclear.

The Maldivian had traveled to IS-held territories in Syria in late 2014 and had gone to Iraq last month following a military offensive by the Iraqi army to recapture Tikrit.

A number of Maldivians jihadis who traveled to fight in the Syrian civil war have been reported dead. Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed in early January estimated over 50 Maldivians could be fighting in foreign wars.

Most Maldivian jihadis are believed to have joined the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat Al Nusra front in Syria.


Government to stop flow of Maldivians joining jihad

The government is working on a new law to deter a growing number of Maldivians seeking to join radical Islamic movements in Iraq and Syria.

Home minister Umar Naseer told Haveeru the attorney general’s office had drafted legislation that would criminalize the act of leaving the Maldives to participate in foreign wars.

However, the attorney general’s office said only “discussions had been held on drafting a law.” Naseer was unavailable for comment as he is currently in Qatar for a UN congress on crime prevention and criminal justice.

The police chief in January said there are over 50 Maldivians fighting in foreign wars, but the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party estimates the number to be as high as 200.

At least seven have reportedly died while fighting in Syria in the past year.

Another seven Maldivians were arrested in Srilanka and Malaysia on the suspicion of attempting to travel to Syria for jihad, but were released in Malé as the law does not recognise the act as an offence.

Prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin welcomed the move, but said Maldivians going abroad to fight in foreign wars could be prosecuted in provisions in the new penal code.

The penal code was due to come into force on Monday, but the ruling party delayed it by three months claiming more time was needed to raise awareness on its provisions.

“I believe putting a stop Maldivians going abroad to fight is very important. The new penal code would be helpful in these kinds of cases,” Muhsin told Minivan News.

The new penal code criminalizes participation in a criminal organization and contributing money to such an organization.

A counter-terrorism expert, who wished to remain anonymous, welcomed the government’s plans, but cautioned: “As we have seen so many times, legislation alone does not always solve the problem. The government also needs to put together a cross-governmental plan of action to tackle the wider issue incorporating the aspect of prevention.”

The law must criminalize financing and membership of terrorist organizations, and recruiting members and training in such organizations, they said.

The Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed earlier this year said that the police are tracking individuals associated with foreign militant groups.

“We know who the foreign militants are. We are monitoring their activities. My hope is, I believe we will be able to monitor them to the extent they are not able to [present a threat] in the Maldives.”

Maldivians who have reportedly left the country for Syria include immigration officers, hospital workers, members of Malé’s criminal gangs, and entire families including infants.

Suspects in the murder of an MP and the disappearance of Minivan News journalist are also reported to have left for jihad.


UN sees increase in Maldivian jihadists overseas

A UN report has raised concerns over an increase in fighters leaving the Maldives to join terrorist organisations including al-Qaida and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The expert report to the UN Security Council, obtained by The Associated Press, said the flow of fighters globally “is higher than it has ever been historically”, increasing from a few thousand a decade ago to over 25,000 from more than 100 nations today.

The Maldives police chief Hussein Waheed in January estimated some 50 Maldivians are fighting in foreign wars, but the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party says the figure could be as high as 200.

Waheed’s comments came after reports of at least 13 Maldivians leaving for jihad surfaced in local media in early January. Since then, at least four more have traveled to the Middle East.

Some seven Maldivians are reported to have died in the past year during battle in Syria, according to local media.

Waheed said that police were monitoring the activities of militants and would reveal details of plans to prevent radicalisation at a later date. The MDP has said the government is doing little to counter radicalisation and prevent recruitment of would-be fighters.

The UN report, written by a UN panel monitoring sanctions against Al-Qaida, listed the Maldives, Finland and Trinidad and Tobago as countries from which numbers of fighters were increasing, while the highest number of foreign fighters come from Tunisia, Morocco, France and Russia.

Most fighters travel to Syria and Iraq, to fight primarily for the Islamic State and the Al-Nusra front.


Majority of Maldivian jihadists ex-military, claims former President Nasheed

The vast majority of Maldivians jihadists fighting in Syria are former officers of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), former President Mohamed Nasheed has claimed, warning of the rise of Islamic extremism in the Maldives.

In an interview with the Independent newspaper in the UK during a visit to London, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) president claimed that up to 200 Maldivians were presently fighting in Syria and Iraq.

“Radical Islam is getting very, very strong in the Maldives. Their strength in the military and in the police is very significant,” the opposition leader was quoted as saying in a story that appeared online today.

“They have people in strategic positions within both. Of the 200 people who have gone to jihad, the vast majority are ex-military. What’s happening is they are taking people in for training and they will go away [to fight abroad]. They are using the Maldives military to train their people.”

In May, the MDP claimed that extremist ideologies were prevalent in the security services and that most militants traveling abroad were ex-police and military officers.

The Ministry of Defence and National Security dismissed the allegations at the time as both “baseless and untrue” and intended to “discredit and disparage” the military.

Condemning the MDP’s statement, the defence ministry called upon the opposition party to “stop spreading misinformation in ways that could confuse the public”.

At least four Maldivians have reportedly been killed in the Syrian civil war.

Growing radicalism

Nasheed meanwhile blamed an influx of Saudi Arabian funds for the conservative turn of Maldivian society in recent years and suggested that President Abdulla Yameen might tacitly encourage radicalism.

“President Yameen feels he can deal with the Islamist threat later but first he wants to consolidate power,” Nasheed explained.

“He has the Islamists with him and he can’t do away with them. He would deny that but I don’t see the government taking any measures against the Isis flag being displayed on the street and all the indoctrination going on. They have allowed the military to grow beards.”

“They are very short-sighted. Their thinking is that Islam has a lot of support and you can whip up more [political] support with religion.”

Nasheed warned that the government’s position was untenable.

“If you look at how at how Mosul fell – the top brass ran away because Isis had already infiltrated the rank and file,” Nasheed said.

“I have a feeling that our police and military are already taken. Eventually the Islamists will create havoc in the Maldives. I have no doubt about it.”

However, there was no direct threat to tourists who visit the Maldives, Nasheed said, as the extremists did not want to draw attention to a fertile recruiting ground.

“The government wants the money out of tourism. Everybody wants the money out of that. How the tourists behave on their uninhabited islands is nothing to do with us apparently,” he said.

“They are not worried about the hypocrisy of it. Not all worried – they think it’s very clever, and it is. They have two tracks going. You have your money on one track and then you have religion on another track. They think they have found an excellent model.”

Nasheed also suggested that people were afraid to speak out due to death threats and intimidation.

“They are afraid to talk about it because the minute you mention Isis you get death threats,” he said.


On September 5, a protest march took took place in Malé with participants bearing the Islamic State’s (IS) flag calling for the implementation of Islamic Shariah in the Maldives.

‘We want the laws of the Quran, not the green book [Maldivian constitution]’, ‘Islam will eradicate secularism’, ‘No democracy, we want just Islam’, and ‘Shariah will dominate the world’, read some of the placards carried by protesters.

In late August, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon condemned “the crimes committed against innocent civilians by the organisation which identifies itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”

Dunya’s remarks followed Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed’s declaration that the ISIS would not be allowed to operate in the Maldives.

“ISIS is an extremist group. No space will be given for their ideology and activities in the Maldives,” Shaheem tweeted on August 24.

The MDP, however, promptly put out a statement questioning Shaheem’s sincerity, suggesting that the words had not been backed up with concrete action by the government.

A Facebook page called Islamic State in Maldives promoting IS in the country was discovered last month, which shared photos of protests calling for a ban on Israeli tourists where protesters carried the IS flag.

A new site called Haqqu (truth) and Twitter account meanwhile sprang up recently featuring IS-related news as well as Dhivehi translations of a sermon by self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other IS publications.


Maldives condemns ISIS crimes, says foreign minister

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon has condemned human rights abuses carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), calling for the respect of life and dignity in the spirit of Islam.

“The Maldives strongly condemns the crimes committed against innocent civilians by the organization which identifies itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” she said in press release today.

Jihadist militants – who declared an Islamic caliphate in territory held across the state of Iraq and Syria – are accused by the UN of having committed mass murders against prisoners, enemy combatants, and civilians.

“IS is using the veil of religion as a pretext for inflicting terror, and committing violations of human rights,” said Dunya.

“Their philosophy blatantly violates the fundamental principles of peace, tolerance, and unity which are advocated by Islam, and their actions have tarnished the world’s perception of our great religion. A religion of peace and tolerance.”

Dunya’s remarks follow Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed’s declaration that the ISIS would not be allowed to operate in the Maldives.

“ISIS is an extremist group. No space will be given for their ideology and activities in the Maldives,” Shaheem tweeted on Sunday night (August 24).

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) immediately seized upon Shaheem’s comments, suggesting that the words had not been backed up with concrete action by the government.

“We note with concern that neither the Islamic minister nor the government has taken any action while activities related to terrorism in different forms as well as extremism are carried out in the Maldives, religious strife and hatred is incited widely, and death threats are being made against various people over religious matters,” read an MDP statement.

Authorities are currently investigating the source of a number of death threats sent to journalists and politicians in recent weeks, some of which were send from a user identifying themselves as ‘ISIS’.

The threats also made reference to the recent abduction of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla – missing since August 8. Rilwan had also been the subject of intimidation from extremists as a result of his writing and micro-blogging.

Foreign Minister Dunya also spoke in favour of moderate Islam during a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in June, calling for a thorough self-assessment to identify the reason Islam is being associated with intolerance, terrorism, violence, and backwardness.

“It is beyond imagination, or within the realm of belief, to think that we can overcome these dark times? Let us recommit ourselves to work together to overcome our challenges. United and strong we can once again become the standard bearers of tolerance and innovation,” she said.

Condemning Islamophobia, Dunya told the 41st session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers that the chaos seen in the Muslim world today was the result of not exercising true Islamic ideals.


Improving relations with Arab countries, a high priority in foreign policy: Yameen

Improving relations with Arab countries is a high priority of the government’s foreign policy, President Abdullah Yameen has said.

Speaking to the Ambassador of Iraq to the Maldives, Kahtan Taha Khalaf who made a courtesy call today, Yameen said that he will work towards improving bilateral relations with Iraq, and that it has been fourty three years since diplomatic relations with Iraq was established.

Taha congratulated Yameen on his being elected president.


Former senior US officials admit Iraqi WMD source was unreliable

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has lashed out at the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon’s Defence Intelliegence Agency, for failing to inform him that a key source behind the decision to go to war in Iraq was unreliable.

Iraqi defector Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known as ‘Curveball’ to his western handlers, has admitted fabricating evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, al-Janabi said he saw the fabricated evidence as a chance to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

“I wanted to get rid of him and now I had this chance,” he said. “I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that.”

“Saddam did not (allow) freedom in our land. There are no other political parties. You have to believe what Saddam says, and do what Saddam wants. And I don’t accept that. I have to do something for my country. So I did this and I am satisfied, because there is no dictator in Iraq any more.”

Powell told British media this week that it had been known for several years that al-Janabi was unreliable.

“The question should be put to the CIA and the DIA as to why this wasn’t known before the false information was put into the NIE sent to Congress, the president’s state of the union address and my February 5 presentation to the UN,” he said.

Former Head of the CIA, George Tenet, put out a statement on his website acknowledging that “the handling of this matter is certainly a textbook case of how not to deal with defector provided material. But the latest reporting of the subject repeats and amplifies a great deal of misinformation.”

Tenet claims he only became aware of al-Janabi two years after the invasion, and by then it was “too late to do a damn thing about it.”


Obama announces end to Iraq war

United States President Barack Obama has declared an end to the seven-year American combat mission in Iraq, saying that the United States had met its responsibility and it was now time to turn to domestic problems.

In a prime-time address from the Oval Office, the New York Times observed Obama balancing praise for the US troops who fought and died in Iraq with his conviction that getting into the conflict had been a mistake in the first place.

“But he also used the moment to emphasise that he sees his primary job as addressing the weak economy and other domestic issues — and to make clear that he intends to begin disengaging from the war in Afghanistan next summer,” the NYT wrote.

“We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home,” Obama said. “Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it’s time to turn the page.”

“Over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has shortchanged investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.”

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