“Growing numbers of Maldives nationals have been drawn to Pakistan-based Islamist groups in recent years. Many were recruited by the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s charitable front, the Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq, which carried out extensive relief operations in the southern atolls after the 2005 tsunami.”
When encountering arguments in defense of jihadist groups like LeT, Hamas, and Hizballah that insist they offer “social services,” remember that this is the other side of the coin. And these arrests show the results of that “charity.”
“Nine Maldives jihadists held in Pakistan,” by Praveen Swami for The Hindu, April 3:
NEW DELHI: Nine Maldives-based jihadists have been held in Pakistan’s troubled Waziristan province “” sparking renewed concern about the use of the Indian Ocean islands as staging-posts for attacks against India’s western coast.
Maldives Minister of Defence and National Security Ameen Faisal told MalÃ©-based journalists that the nine men had been arrested in the troubled Waziristan region of north-western Pakistan, close to the Afghanistan border.
Large swathes of lawless Waziristan are controlled by Taliban insurgents, while Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda is also known to maintain a significant presence in the region.
Eight of the men were identified as Yoosuf Izadhy, 38, of Nicosia in the MalÃ© atoll; Ahmed Ashraf, 31, of Vaikaradhoo; Abdullah Sameer, 38, of Lhaimagu; Ali Faiz, 31, of Vaikaradhoo; Moosa Yoosuf, 30, of Kalhaidhoo; Yoosuf Mohammed, 52, also of Kalhaidhoo; Mohammad Zuhree, 28, of Dhaandhoo; Ali Shafeeq, 25, of Kandholhudhoo and Arif Ahmed, whose personal details have not been released.
Pakistani authorities are reported to have held six of the men in raids on March 11, and six more men on March 12. No details were made available, though, on which jihadist group the men were involved with, and who had arranged for their recruitment in the Maldives.
MalÃ©-based newspaper Minivan News reported that at least one of the men had earlier been held on suspicion of having participated in the September 2007 bombing of MalÃ©”s Sultan Park, which left 12 tourists injured. However, Shafeeq was later cleared of all charges and released.
Concerns about the use of the Maldives by Islamist terror groups has been mounting since 2006, when evidence emerged that Dhaka-based Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Faisal Haroon had explored plans to use the islands as a logistical base.
In the wake of the Sultan Park bombing, 10 key suspects escaped to Pakistan, where they were thought to be sheltered by elements linked to the Lashkar. Maldives authorities are now preparing the trial of one of the fugitive suspects, who was arrested on his return to MalÃ© in January. Three who failed to secure their escape were sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2007.
Growing numbers of Maldives nationals have been drawn to Pakistan-based Islamist groups in recent years. Many were recruited by the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s charitable front, the Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq, which carried out extensive relief operations in the southern atolls after the 2005 tsunami….