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Police arrest Maldivian on America's OFAC terrorist list

Shahudha Mohamed
24 October 2019, MVT 10:33
Maldivian insurgents in Syria. PHOTO: UNKNOWN
Shahudha Mohamed
24 October 2019, MVT 10:33

Local media Mihaaru reported that Maldives Police Service arrested Mohamed Ameen, who was on the list of terrorists publicised by America's Department of the Treasuries Office of Foreign Affairs Control (OFAC).

He was arrested over allegations of spreading extremist ideologies in Maldives on a large scale in addition to recruiting and directing terrorist fighters abroad.

Red Notice issued by Interpol for Mohamed Ameen following the bombing near Sultan Park in capital Male' City in 2011. PHOTO: INTERPOL

The first Maldivian mentioned in OFAC's terrorist list was taken into custody in a special operation conducted by Police. America also imposed sanctions on Ameen with the publication of the list in August.

Police have yet to reveal further information on the 35year-old terrorist.

Local authorities attempted to arrest Ameen in relation to the bombing that took place near Sultan Park in 2007. However, he fled the country before an arrest could be made.

Following this, Interpol released a red notice for Ameen's arrest.

He was arrested in Sri Lanka in 2011 but was freed after being brought back to Maldives. Ameen was arrested while trying to enter Sri Lanka illegally using a forged passport. At the time, he was seized with a Maldivian and Pakistani passport.

OFAC's terrorist list was compiled following the terrorist attacks on November 11, 2001 when two hijacked passenger jets flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in America's New York City.

According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Ameen is identified as both a recruiter and key leader for ISIS in Syria, Afghanistan, and the Maldives.

The department further alleged that Ameen is known to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K), which is a branch of the IS based in Iraq.

Additionally, OFAC revealed that Ameen was actively engaged in leading IS recruitment through his close lieutenants, from April 2019 onwards. US authorities stated that Ameen’s subordinates hosted approximately 10 recruitment sessions per week under the guise of Islamic classes, held at several locations in Male' including Ameen’s residence.

Recent amendments brought to the Prevention of Terrorism Act authorises Police to make warrantless arrests for certain criminal acts that constitute terrorism, as well as conduct inspections and strip searches under specific circumstances.

The Act criminalises supporting extremist ideologies, including political and religious extremism, and fear-mongering within society.

Moreover, it also criminalises the act of departing for war zones without authorisation by the administration. While the current Act recognises partaking in a foreign conflict as a crime, the new changes criminalise all unauthorised attempts to go to any war zones.

Some of the insurgents that travelled to fight in Syria's civil war are currently trapped in inhumane conditions with no way to return back to Maldives.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih recently declared that the government was attempting to bring back these insurgents, later adding that they will be reintegrated into society through rehabilitation programmes.

Various Maldivian insurgents were reportedly killed in Syria's war zones but the exact number is unknown even to the authorities.

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