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.