Afrasheem murder suspect dead in Syria, claims family

A suspect in the murder of MP Afrasheem Ali, Azlif Rauf, has died while fighting in Syria, his family has claimed.

Azlif’s brother wrote on Facebook on Friday that he had “lived like a lion and died as a hero.” The family was reportedly informed of Azlif’s death on Thursday night by Maldivians in Syria.

Sources close to the family told Haveeru that the Maldivian jihadis had sent a photo of the dead ex-military officer.

However, there has been no independent verification of Azlif’s death and opposition politicians have questioned whether he had gone to Syria.

A police media official said the police do not have any information on the case. The police are not investigating any cases involving Azlif at present, the official said.

Reliable sources told Minivan News in January that Azlif left to Turkey with six members of Malé’s Kuda Henveiru gang and crossed the border into Syria.

Azlif was under house arrest at the time and police had forwarded terrorism charges against him to the prosecutor general’s office in relation to Afrasheem’s murder. However, the PG office had not filed the case at court.

A counter-terrorism expert told Minivan News today on the condition of anonymity that the reports of Azlif’s death were “not convincing.”

In other cases where Maldivians had died in Syria, there was confirmation from credible independent sources as well as reports from jihadist media, the source noted.

The death of most Maldivian jihadis were reported by online group Bilad Al Sham Media, which describes itself as “Maldivians in Syria.” The group says it represents Maldivians fighting with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra militant organisation.

The expert also questioned whether Azlif had been radicalised enough to leave for Syria.

Another possibility is that Azlif’s “associates here who wished to hide him” were spreading false reports of his death, the expert suggested.

Hussain Humam Ahmed, now serving a life sentence over the murder of Dr Afrasheem, had said Azlif had planned the murder in October 2012. Humam later retracted the confession and claimed it had come under duress.

Speaking at an opposition alliance rally on Thursday night, ‘Sandhaanu’ Ahmed Didi alleged that Azlif is hiding in Malaysia. He further alleged that tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb had facilitated Azlif’s departure while he was acting defence minister in early January.

After Humam alleged President Abdulla Yameen and Adeeb’s involvement in the murder last month, Adeeb accused the opposition of orchestrating the convict’s remarks in a “character assassination” attempt.

A senior police officer has meanwhile told Haveeru that Azlif is in Armenia while other sources claimed he was in Sri Lanka last week.

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.

The report 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.


Online jihadists threaten Sean Paul with death ahead of New Year’s concert

A video has appeared online threatening dancehall singer Sean Paul with death should he visit the Maldives for a New Year’s Eve concert.

“‘Sean Paul’!!! If you visit the Maldives, the world will see your burnt and blood drenched dead body,” read cards held by a cloaked figure in the video posted on Youtube late last night (December 25).

Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb, has responded to the threat this afternoon, stating in a tweet that the concert will go ahead as planned. Meanwhile Islamic minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has that that both bringing foreigners to perform new year’s concerts, and the issuing of death threats were both “unacceptable”.

Adeeb informed media late last month that the Jamaican artist would be appearing in a free concert in the capital Malé as part of the government’s tourism promotion efforts.

Last night’s video bears the logo of ‘Bilad Al Sham Media’ (BASM) group – an organisation which claims to consist of Maldivian jihadis based in Syria and the Maldives.

Through social media, the group has reported the deaths of five Maldivians in the Syrian civil war this year, as well as taunting the police’s efforts to locate its members.

BASM has, however, posted a statement on its official Facebook page distancing itself from the video.

“We suspect that the video was released by MDP supporters/secularists or other such anti Islamic elements who have been pushing hard to potray [sic] a threat to the Maldives which in reality does not exist, and their mouth piece Minivan News is also pushing the same lies and has been the first to report on this video.”

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.”

Minivan News was the first outlet to report on the story in English, after a number of outlets had published news of the video in Dhivehi.

“It is for all Muslim to jihad in the name of Allah. Hence disbelievers like ‘Sean Paul’, who are like the worst of devil’s advocates, deserve nothing but death!” continued yesterday’s video threat.

“‘Sean Paul’ who is joining from abroad in the celebration of year-end 2014, end [sic] the beginning of 2015, is a major disbeliever,” came the message, printed on cards in Dhivehi, with English subtitles.

The figure, whose face and hands are covered sits in front of a black flag which has become synonymous with the Islamic State militant group, ISIS.

“We will not welcome or tolerate the destruction of such cunning men anymore.”

“Even the government will not be excused for bringing such cunning disbeliever to our soil, because our beloved nation is 100% Muslim!”

Tourism minister Adeeb has 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.

In the run-up to the scheduled Akon concert, the Islamic minister Dr Shaheem reported receiving a number of complaints about the explicit content of the singer’s lyrics.

Today, Shaheem has commented on the threat via twitter, saying: “Bringing foreigners to hold shows coinciding with the New Year is unacceptable. Issuing death threats is also unacceptable.”

“Lessons have to be learnt from the past of those who committed acts challenging the Muslim culture,” read a second tweet.

Yesterday’s Youtube message suggested that Maldivian society was being led to destruction through “beautiful painted pictures, songs and entertainment”, decrying what it saw as the celebration of western festivals such as New Year and Valentine’s Day.

“Mixing such festivities into our culture will result in a destructive future for the Maldives and our beloved children.”

Earlier this week, the religious Adhaalath Party was reported as urging Maldivians to avoid celebrating Christmas.

November and December have traditionally represented the high season for the Maldives’ dominant tourism industry, with tourists celebrating Christmas and New Year in the archipelago’s 109 single island resorts, on which the country’s Shariah-based laws do not apply.

The online threat concluded by suggesting that those who saw the group’s actions as “extremism” are demonstrating the weakness of their faith.

Concern regarding religious extremism in the country has grown this year, with a number of Maldivians reported to have travelled to IS held territory – sometimes with family members.

Despite the government’s condemnation of the Islamic State’s atrocities, around 200 individuals marched through the capital in September, brandishing black IS-style flags and calling for the implementation of full Shariah law in the Indian Ocean nation.

Authorities arrested unauthorised Imam Hussain Thowfiq in October before sentencing him to two years in prison for leading extremist anti-government sermons in Malé’s Dharumavantha mosque.

Prior to this, former police officers and opposition politicians had questioned the capacity and desire or authorities to prosecute such activities.

Police spokesmen reported that they were investigating the video, but had found “nothing authentic”, urging calm.

*Article updated at 7:58pm to incorporate comments from police and statement from Bilad Al Sham Media.

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Akon’s Supafest postponed “at least six weeks”


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

More than seven Maldivians are currently fighting in foreign civil wars, Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer revealed at the People’s Majlis today.

Responding to a query during minister’s question time from former police commissioner and Jumhooree Party MP Abdulla Riyaz about the ministry’s efforts to prevent Maldivians joining civil wars in foreign nations, Naseer said police were monitoring persons with extremist religious views.

“In such cases, persons attempting to leave abroad with the intention of joining civil wars have been stopped with court orders and prohibited from leaving,” he said.

“And the passports of some people have been withheld for a period determined by the court.”

Maldivian jihadis have also been brought back to the country with help from foreign law enforcement agencies, he added.

However, police faced difficulties in proving guilt at court of persons intending to join foreign civil wars, he continued, suggesting that the evidentiary standard should be lowered for terrorism cases.

Police were also working with the Islamic ministry to provide religious counselling and advice to discourage Maldivians from flying overseas to fight in civil wars, Naseer said.

Efforts were meanwhile underway to establish an efficient mechanism for taking action based on intelligence information, Naseer said.

While neighbouring countries provide assistance in returning Maldivians intending to travel for jihad, Naseer said the government was unable to bring back Maldivians who have made their way into Syria.

The government is studying a recently-approved UN security council resolution on foreign terrorist fighters, Naseer said, and would comply with obligations.

A strategic action plan is also being implemented to combat religious extremism, he added, which involved prevention of radical views in public schools.

Asked about efforts to prevent recruitment in the country, Naseer said the government has banned independent prayer congregations across the country.

Naseer denied claims by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik that Maldivian students who went to Sudan through the Islamic ministry in 2012 are involved in violent conflicts.

He also denied MDP MP Abdul Bari Abdulla’s allegation that government ministers were involved in a “network” for recruiting Maldivian jihadis with help from foreign terrorist organisations.

Police intelligence officers were constantly monitoring alleged recruitment efforts, Naseer said, insisting that foreign terrorist organisations or religious extremists would not be able to interfere in domestic affairs.

“The number of Maldivians participating in foreign wars would be proportionately much lower than large European nations,” he said.

Islamic State

Last month, a jihadist media group called Bilad al-Sham – which describes itself as ‘Maldivians in Syria’ – revealed that a fifth Maldivian had died in Syria.

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

The three – two men aged 23 and 25, and a woman aged 18 – were from the island of Madduvari in Raa atoll and were released from custody upon being brought back to the Maldives.

The incident followed reports of a couple from Fuvahmulah and a family of four from Meedhoo in Raa atoll traveling to militant organisation Islamic State-held (IS) territories to join the fighting in Syria and Iraq.

A UN report obtained by the UK’s Guardian newspaper earlier this month observed that foreign jihadists were now travelling to Syria and Iraq on “an unprecedented scale”.

The report mentioned the Maldives as one of the “unlikely” places from which IS supporters have emerged.

Meanwhile, a protest march took place in the capital, Malé, in September, with around 200 participants bearing the IS flag and calling for the implementation of Islamic Shariah in the Maldives.

In late August, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon issued a press statement condemning “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 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 August 24.

Shaheem had also appealed for Maldivians to refrain from participating in foreign wars and has recently defended the government’s record on extremism before the Majlis.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (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.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has claimed that up to 200 Maldivians are on jihad, alleging that a vast majority of them are ex-military – a claim vehemently denied by the security services.

“Radical Islam is getting very very strong in the Maldives, their strength in the military and in the police is very significant. They have people in strategic positions within both,” Nasheed said in an interview with UK’s Independent newspaper.

Related to this story

Islamic minister defends government policy on extremism

Police detain Maldivian jihadis caught in Sri Lanka

Police arrest Imam of unauthorised independent prayer congregation

Islamic Minister advises Maldivians against participating in foreign wars


Police defiant in the face of taunts from jihadi group

The Maldives Police Service is investigating remarks made by Bilad Al Sham Media (BASM) in response to its investigation into the jihadist group.

“Whether threats are issued from within the Maldives or from outside, the police will remain confident in fulfilling our legal obligations,” police told CNM.

Responding to police attempts to locate the group, which recently reported the deaths of two Maldivians in Syria, a post on BASM’s Facebook page said they could be found at the Jabhat al-Nusra base in Idlib, northwestern Syria.

“Now lets see whether they can bring us back,” read the post.

“We will throw out the map and you shall go step by step just the way we want until you land in that pit of doom which you are headed to right now.”

Meanwhile, a former senior police officer questioned both the capacity and the desire or authorities to prosecute such activities.

The former officer pointed to the lack of comprehensive anti-terror laws in the country, as well as questioning the decision to have controversial Sheikh Adam Shameem speak at the police’s recent master parade.

“For the police to invite these people validates the accusations made by some that police and the security services are quite supportive of extremist elements and extremism in general,” said the former officer.

The jihadist BASM group’s members have claimed to be fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra – the Al Qaeda-affiliated group designated as a terrorist organisation by the UN and a number of leading western countries since its creation in 2012.

Investigations into the two men reported by BASM as having been killed – identified as Hassan Shifaz and Ali Adam from Malé and Shaviyani Feydhoo, respectively – also brought criticism from the group.

“When the Maldivian Police heard of the Maldivians being martyred in Syria, those half female creatures made sure they go enter upon their houses and question their women,” said BASM.

“If the Maldivian Police are investigating about us, then let them know that we too are investigating.”

“We cannot have another Sultan Park”

The former senior police officer, who spoke with Minivan News on condition of anonymity, suggested that current events represented the mismanagement of several governments.

“This situation has been getting bigger and bigger everyday since the incidents in Sultan Park and Himandhoo island.”

Twelve tourists were among those injured in the September 2007 blast, which was followed by violent confrontations between authorities and a radical congregation on the island of Himandhoo during the police investigation.

In addition to “fast tracked” legislation, the source called for more serious efforts to analyse the root causes for the radicalisation of Maldivians – a problem he argues can no longer be denied.

“Our terrorism act  – the legislation we have on terrorism, is from 1990 I think – is really irrelevant to the new age of violent extremist acts.”

“I think just mere investigation into something that has already happened will not do any good. There has to be some serious efforts to analyse this problem – what actually causes this problem.”

“In 2012 the government denied that Maldivians were involved in any level in violent extremism. Now the very people involved in it are very openly admitting to it,” he explained.

Identifying those involved in the financing, recruitment, and transportation of Maldivian extremists is relatively simple, he explained, while the preventive aspect is more difficult.

The officer believed that the neglect of the problem could perhaps be explained by preoccupation with the country’s turbulent domestic politics – suggesting that Sheikh Shameem’s “provocative” invitation to the Martyr’s Day parade may have been another symptom of this.

“The police have become very politicised, they make everything political,” the source told Minivan News today.

“Because someone whom they do not support – someone whom they hate – had openly claimed that Maldives is faced with this problem with violent extremism, people don’t like it.”

Sheikh Shameem told officers they should always possess the will to be martyred when defending the people and the nation. He also recently prayed for the acceptance of the martyrdom of Maldivians killed in Syria.

Shameem first came to public attention following his ‘mega-lecture’ ‘Andalus‘ last year, which was interrupted by authorities for violating state broadcaster’s guideline.

Last month, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) suggested that extremist ideologies were prevalent within the security services – accusations described as “baseless and untrue” by the MNDF.

The MDP also condemned Shameem’s ‘Andalus’ lecture last year, accusing him of inciting hatred in order to sway the electorate.


Comment: Does this government support Maldivian jihadists in Syria?

In the last week two Maldivians died in the Syrian conflict. About twenty more are fighting in the war. The news was brought to local papers by a group calling itself Bilad Al Sham Media, which insists furiously that it is run by a group of Maldivians based ‘in Syria, not in the Maldives’.

Bilad Al Sham refers to what is known as Greater Syria, currently the main attraction for the world’s jihadis who are lured to the conflict by what many believe is a divine promise that jihad there ‘will set the stage for the emergence of the true Islamic state’.

According to the Lebanon-based newspaper Al-Akhbar, the various nationalities currently fighting in Syria—Lebanese, Jordanians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Kuwaitis, Tunisians, Libyans, Saudis, Yemenis, Afghans and Pakistanis—are divided among many factions and schools of thought.

Three among them espouse the most hardline takfiri ideology – al-Qaeda’s Abdullah Azzam Brigades, the Doura Fighting Group, and the Jabhat al-Nusra li-Bilad al-Sham. The Bilad Al Sham Media group, which appears to have been set up for the purpose of publicising the activities of Maldivian ‘jihadis’, has confirmed that the Maldivians are with Jabhat al-Nusra, the deadliest of the three.

Al-Nusra first announced its existence in January 2012, pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2013 and in April 2014, started its own weapons factory. To remove any doubt about Maldivian fighters being affiliated with Jabhat Al-Nusra, Bilad Al Sham Media posted an Al-Nusra issued identity card which it says belonged to the second Maldivian who died in the conflict. Affiliation with Al-Nusra is a matter of great pride for them.

Bilad Al Sham Media has a strong online presence—it has a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, a YouTube channel, and a blog. The group is making full use of all the platforms to bring detailed news of their activities in Syria to the Maldivian public. According to its Facebook page discussions with followers, the decision to go public was not made lightly. It was aware that being out in the open could mean that future jihadists would find it more difficult to leave the country and join others in Syria as authorities crack-down on them. But, in the end, it decided that the gains of going public — calling others to ‘Jihad’ and attracting them to their cause — far out-weighed the potential harm.

Bilad Al Sham Media appears to have been spot on in its calculations – they have got a far bigger response from their followers and wanna-be jihadis than from the government. Whereas the glorification of their ‘martyrdom’ has increased with the publicity, the government response has been virtually non-existent.

Maldivian jihadists, it appears, have nothing to fear from this government. In fact, the government appears to be tacitly condoning the whole enterprise if not actively encouraging it.

Bilad Al Sham Media warned the police not to investigate them, and instructed the Islamic Ministry to stay out of it.

Government’s response

The Islamic Ministry is following the instructions to a tee. Minister Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed responded to news of the Maldivian suicide bomber by saying that while he personally disapproved of Maldivians fighting in wars abroad, the Islamic Ministry itself had nothing to say on the matter.

President Yameen, meanwhile, has come out with a statement that makes suicide bombing in Syria sound similar to a minor transgression such as throwing some rubbish on the streets of Singapore where there are strict regulations against such behaviour.

Yameen said that the government had always urged Maldivians to maintain discipline abroad, adding that the responsibility for any crime wilfully committed by an individual must be borne by the individual himself.

Bilad Al Sham Media has made it clear that Maldivians in Syria are well trained fighters killing in the name of God – not ‘a family of Maldivians’ who, while travelling abroad, have somehow found themselves in a bit of a kerfuffle in Syria, as Yameen appears to suggest.

The rest of the president’s utterances on the subject, offering financial assistance to the fighters if they have found themselves stuck in Syria, smacks of someone who is totally ignorant of the phenomenon of violent radicalisation or is having a private laugh about it.

Does the government’s astonishingly blasé attitude to one of the most pressing security concerns in the world today stem from ignorance, or is it calculated? Is the government deliberately turning a blind eye to the radicalistion—both violent and non-violent—of Maldivians? Does it consider the ‘jihadists’ to be engaged in a Holy War to protect Islam?

Its actions, or lack of them, since the news broke certainly suggests this to be the case.

Most people were still reeling from the shocking news of the Maldivians killing and being killed in Syria when the national Martyr’s Day rolled around on Friday, 30 May. The death of the second Maldivian had been announced only three days before. Bilad Al Sham Media was busy putting out statements promoting their deaths as martyrdom, a jihad for Islam, when Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon addressed the nation on the occasion of Martyr’s Day.

Shockingly, in all the talk of martyrdom, she had nothing to say about the Maldivians dying in Syria. Still conspicuously not remarking on the Syrian ‘jihadis’, she defined martyrdom as ‘loss of one’s life from an attack by the enemy in a jihadi war being fought for religion and for the country’s freedom’. She later said, ‘if we were to lose our lives during a sincere effort to protect our country’s sovereignty, that death will without a doubt be martyrdom.’


There was no such clarification of whether or not the government considers those killing themselves and others in Syria fits into her definition of martyrs for religion.

Other government officials were even more vague. Here is, for example, Vice President Mohamed Jameel Ahmed’s tweet to mark the occasion:

Which martyrs is he speaking of? The Maldivians ones of days long gone who died fighting for the country’s freedom, or the self-proclaimed jihadis killing and being killed in Syria?

Never the sort to waste an occasion for nationalistic rhetoric, on Saturday evening the government held an official ceremony to mark Martyr’s Day. As Chief Guest, Home Minister Umar Naseer added to the ambiguity. He focused on the changed nature of modern warfare, saying that days of fighting with swords and guns are long gone.

Today’s war, he said, is ideological – what is under attack are ‘how people think of their countries, and their religion.’ There was no mention of whether or not he, or the government, considers Maldivian ‘jihadis’ fighting in the Syrian war as soldiers in that ideological war.

Added to this recurring ambiguity is total inaction. Although it is the Maldives Police Service (MPS) which has a dedicated counter-terrorism department, recent media reports have quoted the police as saying Maldives National Defence Force is responsible. In this case, however, the buck seems to have been passed to MPS.

Bilad Al Sham Media, which has warned the police that probing into their activities is anti-Islamic, is right not to be too concerned. The MPS was unable to identify Justice Abdulla Hameed from the leaked sex videos despite his identity being obvious to the naked eye. And, it was only in last October that the MPS Counter-terrorism chief flew to London with a ballot box for the presidential election and disappeared only to be found when he posted pictures of himself at an Arsenal football match.

In addition to the cluelessness, it is not just Bilad Al Sham Media that is warning police that investigating their ‘jihad’ is anti-Islamic.

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 7.46.53 PM

They were recently told the same thing by hardline Salafi preacher Sheikh Adam Shameem Ibrahim (of Andalus fameselected by the government to address the police on the occasion of Martyr’s Day. What he had to say to the police is not the least bit surprising. He recast national heroes of history in today’s Islamist terms— ‘Mujahedin who had martyred for Islam’ and the country.

He said all police should always be determined to become a martyr, and took pains to tell the force just what a glorious position Islam has for martyrs. Nothing, of course, was said about it being wrong to blow themselves up, and kill others, in the name of Islam in the Islamists’ ‘Holy War.’

The government’s non-action, its sanguine reaction to the news of Maldivians fighting in Syria, its complete lack of any counter-extremism or counter-radicalisation initiatives, its failure to state its position on whether or not it regards the Maldivian fighters who died in Syria as martyrs or not, and its sanctioning of an Islamist preacher to glorify martyrdom to the Maldives Police Service all combine to make a very loud statement — this government tacitly supports Maldivians fighting and killing themselves in the ‘Holy War’ to establish an Islamic state in Syria.

Interesting, given that the jihadists themselves have little respect for it – and we have already had some experience of what Islamists do to governments they have no respect for.

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 11.10.19 AM


Taking the Wind Out of Maldives’ Radical Sails: The Sunday Standard

“There is alarm in India over Jehadi indoctrination of youngsters from the island nation of Maldives in Pakistan,” writes Devirupa Mitra for India’s Sunday Standard publication.

“Red flags have gone up over young Maldivians going for Islamic studies at seminaries in Pakistan and later turning up at the wrong place at the wrong time. Like a 31-year-old Maldivian national killed in a bomb explosion in Afghanistan in December 2013.

To curb the spread of Pakistan-induced radicalisation in the atoll—as it could pose a greater security challenge due to Maldives’ strategic position and freer travel guidelines—New Delhi is moving towards increasing contacts with moderate Indian Islamic institutions to educate youths from its Indian Ocean neighbour.For a year now, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been working on a proposal to increase engagement and contact between Islamic groups in Maldives and moderate Islamic educational institutions in India. All with the hope that more Maldivian youth would prefer to come to India in large numbers to pursue Islamic education than go to Pakistan.

The latest example of the phenomena which has raised concern came to the fore just last month, when the family of a Maldivian national, who had been studying in Pakistan for nearly six years, learned that he had died in a bomb blast in Afghanistan. A media report quoted a local politician as saying that when he called home, he would just “talk about Jihad and independence of Palestine”.

Sources made it clear that the government will try not to barge into this sensitive area in a heavy-handed manner, so it will only be a “facilitator to increase contacts with moderate Indian groups”.

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