Extremist group behind Dr. Afrasheem's murder : Pres commission

Presidential Commission Investigating Murders and Enforced Disappearances has revealed that that an extremist religious organization was behind the murder of former Ungoofaaru MP and religious scholar Dr. Afrasheem Ali.

Dr. Afrasheem was murdered in the stairwell of his residence at around 1:30 am on September 30, 2012.

The presidential commission investigated his murder and forwarded their findings in the form of a report last week to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the Prosecutor General, Anti-Terrorism Unit and the Attorney General.

A summary of the commission's investigative report into Dr. Afrasheem's murder was presented at the Parliament floor on Sunday.

Citing the report, Speaker Mohamed Nasheed said the religious organization that orchestrated Dr. Afrasheem's murder is headed by two individuals named Mohamed Mazeed and Saamith Mohamed.

Both Mazeed and Saamith are also alleged to be involved in the abduction and murder of Miniwan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan. The report said Mazeed was involved in the Sultan Park bombing incident that took place in 2007 and said Mazeed traveled to Pakistan and met with senior members of Al-Qaeda following the bombing. Mazeed is accused of carrying out Al-Qaeda's work and spreading their ideologies and propaganda in Maldives.

The report further named Azlif Rauf of H. Hilton as the main perpetrator behind MP Afrashim's murder.

While one person has been convicted thus far on Dr. Afrasheem's murder, the verdict on Hussain Humaam of H. Lobby was upheld by the Supreme Court.

According to the commission's report, in addition to Humaam and Azlif, an individual named Ali Shan of H. Coast, a minor, and seven other individuals were actively involved in executing the murder. While Shan could not be convicted due to lack of evidence, investigation into the remaining people could not be pursued as they fled to Syria the morning after the murder, said the report.

The report noted that Dr. Afrasheem was harassed and tormented on multiple occasions, and that some religious scholars had stated that "it is desirable if he repents" in reference to Dr. Afrasheem.

It also noted that the group behind the murder strongly disagreed with Dr. Afrasheem's religious opinion on performing a good deed over a deceased person on condition that something pleasant happens, and his opinion on the dress code of Muslim women.

The report further named several individuals who spoke on public platforms in a manner that could incite hatred against Dr. Afrasheem. The report highlighted the Salaf Organization, and noted that a Youtube video posted by 'Habeys TV' in 2011 described Dr. Afrasheem as a dangerous individual.

It further said while several politicians were aware of Azlif's activities and involvement, political figures had attempted to cover up his activities.

Serious allegations against Dr. Shaheem

The report further said an unknown individual sent a text message to former Islamic Minister Dr. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed which read 'it is most desirable that Dr. Afrasheem reverts, and asks for forgiveness in front of the media, and repents for his actions", which was forwarded to Dr. Afrasheem by Dr. Shaheem.

The report said Dr. Shaheem acted as a mediator in settling the dispute between local religious scholars and Dr. Afrasheem over his religious opinions.

The statement given to the commission by Dr. Shaheem said while Dr. Afrasheem went to the Islamic Center the day before his death, Dr. Afrasheem did not go to the Islamic Centre on his request. It further said that Shaheem was unable to name the person who sent him the text message, as he claimed he could not to remember who sent the message.

However, the communications between the unknown individual and Dr. Shaheem indicate that Dr. Afrasheem went to the Islamic Center, and went on a TV Program the night of his murder on the request of then Islamic Minister Shaheem.

While the messages prove that Dr. Shaheem was aware that Dr. Afrasheem was called on to go live on the TV program to issue a public apology for his 'actions', and to announce his repentance, Shaheem had also requested to hold a press conference at the Islamic Ministry if the TV program was unsuccessful, said the report.

Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed noted that Dr. Shaheem had left the country the morning after Dr. Afrasheem's murder.

Citing the report, Speaker Nasheed noted that CCTV footage, phone call logs and other relevant information on Dr. Afrasheem's murder were not shared with the commission by the police

Nasheed said while the commission's investigations show funds amounting to MVR 4 - 6 million were spent to arrange the former MP's murder, the trial of the funds can be traced through central bank Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA). According to the report, several individuals are indirectly involved in the murder, and their role in executing the murder needs to be investigated further, said Nasheed.

"I have been given the legal opinion that charges can be raised against a large number of people based on the evidence cited in the report", said Nasheed.

Nasheed warned that Maldives will be 'ruined' if the actions of radical organizations are not put to an immediate stop, and stressed that action should be taken on the findings of the commission's report at the earliest.