Extremist groups behind largest robberies in capital Male'

The Presidential Commission Investigating Murders and Enforced Disappearances has revealed that an extremist religious organization was behind the biggest robberies that took place in capital Male' in the recent months.

At a press conference held on Sunday, President of the Commission Husnu-al-Suood said two main religious organizations operate in the Maldives. While one group is affiliated with Jabat-Al-Nusra of Syria, the second group is part of Abubakur-Al-Baghdadi's Islamic State in Iraq.

Suood revealed one of the two groups were involved in the robbery that occurred near State Bank of India (SBI) during which a large amount of cash belonging to BHM Traders was snatched.

"All recent big robberies that occurred in Male' was planned and executed by them. You may have heard of cash belonging to BHM Traders being snatched near SBI. They were behind the heist", said Suood.

In addition to robberies, the two organizations conduct many businesses in Maldives, said Suood. The organizations operate fishing vessels, fabric and vegetable shops, and cafe's to gather funds for their 'missions'.

Suood said the gathered funds are divided into five parts out of which one part is sent to the organization. The people who are carrying out these activities have been identified, said Suood.

"The organization affiliated with Jabat-Al-Nusra sends funds to Syria. Those supporting IS ideologies send part of the funds to Iraq.", said Suood. While the main person involved in these activities is based in southernmost Addu City, his identity cannot be revealed at the time, he said.

Suood said extremest ideologies are mostly propagated in Masjid al Furqan and Masjid Al Noor in capital Male'. While isolated youth who attend congregation at the mosques are targeted, representatives of the organizations spread extremist ideologies in the name of teaching religion to these young people, said Suood.

The commission revealed that one of the organizations was behind the murders of journalist Ahmed Rilwan and blogger Yameen Rasheed. The commission has obtained evidence that Rilwan was murdered after being abducted in Hulhumale'.

Suood said the organizations had a list of participants who attended a rally calling for freedom of religion in Maldives held on December 10, 2011. While some of the people involved in attacking those petitioning for religious freedom flew to Qatar on the day former MP Dr Afrashim was murdered, they went on to travel to Syria, said Suood.

Suood said Rilwan had communicated with Maldivian militant fighters in Syria via Facebook, and the group had threatened Rilwan.

The commission has now requested the court to impose a travel ban on some of the suspects involved in the cases, said Suood.