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Attack on tourists was an act of revenge: witness

Lamya Abdulla
16 June 2022, MVT 13:16
(FILE) Ali Manik: he is believed to be connected to the attack on a group of tourists in 2020 --
Lamya Abdulla
16 June 2022, MVT 13:16

A witness said a group of tourists were attacked and stabbed with a knife two years ago in revenge for taking Abdulla Ali Manik's children to state custody.

Abdulla Ali Manik has terrorism charges pressed against him.

The witness statements were provided by a police officer involved in making the intelligence report for this case. The statements were provided at the hearing held on Wednesday regarding the charges pressed against Abdulla Ali Manik, from Haa Alif Molhadhoo, and Mohamed Thasleem from Haa Alif Hoarafushi for supporting a terrorist organisation.

The police officer said Ali Manik had been operative in the religious extremism activities since 2000. After he was jailed following a violent unrest in Alif Alif Himandhoo in 2007, he had worked to recruit people to religious extremism while in jail. He had accessed a phone while in jail as well.

The police officer said Ali Manik in an individual flagged by Maldivian intelligence sources as someone that supports the Islamic State (IS), an organisation the Maldivian state has identifies as a terrorist organisation. They also said Ali Manik has spoken in support of religious extremism and believes that people that does not support his views are not "proper Muslims."

The attack on tourists was an act of revenge

The police officer said that prior to being arrested in 2020, he had been arrested in 2019 on the accusation that he had not sent his children to school. The children were taken under state custody shortly after that. The attack on a group of tourists in 2020 was in retaliation to that, they said.

However he did not clarify whether it was Ali Manik himself making the attack on the tourists. None of the people arrested in connection to the attack had any charges pressed against them, because the deadline stipulated in the law expired.

When asked how they knew about Ali Manik's connection to the attack on tourists, the police said how they receive their intelligence would not be disclosed.

Ali Manik said that he had been sending his children to school and there is evidence to prove he only stopped due to financial difficulties. He also refuted that the claim he was promoting extremist thoughts in 2017 cannot be possible because he was working as a state approved Imam then.

"Believed to have conspired with Thasleem regarding the bomb attack"

Thasleem has been active in religious extremism since 2015, said the policeman. He was also a supporter of IS and was reportedly carrying items such as a bomb-making manual, the policeman said.

The police said he is believed to have been consulted prior to the attack on Mohamed Nasheed last year. An IED had exploded outside his family home, injuring him and several others.

The second witness that testified was the police officer that had investigated Ali Manik's phone. He said that photos circulating on media and social media regarding the attack on Nasheed were found on the phone. He also found a picture of an al-Qaeda-linked senior, Anwar Aulaki, but did no contact between them was on the phone.

The testimony of the remaining witnesses still need to be taken.

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