Counter Terrorism Perspectives: CTP

MLM: The Curious Case of Ahmed Muaz: How Islamist Groups Coopt Criminal Gangs to Advance Radicalism in the Maldives

April 12, 2023

In mid-December 2022, the Maldivian Presidential Commission on Deaths and Disappearances (DDCom) submitted its final report on the disappearance of a prominent progressive journalist, Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla. Almost eight years after Rilwan mysteriously vanished from the capital Male’s suburb of Hulhumale in August 2014, the investigating agencies have connected several missing dots to reveal how he was harassed, abducted, tortured, and decapitated (Sun, December 15, 2022). The commission also found that Rilwan’s assassination was directly linked with his fellow friend, blogger, and social media activist Yameen Rasheed’s death in 2017.

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) arrested three prime suspects, Ahmed Muaz, Ismail Abdul Raheem, and Ahmed Ismail, for “aiding and abetting the act of terrorism” in the country on June 26, 2022. Formal charges were brought against them at the Criminal Court of the Maldives on August 1, 2022. The charge sheet noted their role in the abduction and murder of Rilwan in August 2014 and the fatal attack on Yameen in April 2017 (PSM News, August 1, 2022; Dhiyares News (Dhivehi), Sep 26, 2022). This profile examines the role of Ahmed Muaz in particular, who was a radicalized gang leader that has been behind violent attacks, kidnappings, and killings of pro-democracy bloggers, journalists, and rights activists in Maldives. This issue has gained a certain amount of importance, given that 40 gangs are active in the Maldives, and there have been 32 deaths in the country due to gang violence over the past 15 years (Times of Addu, September 12, 2022).

Muaz and Gangs of Maldives

Muaz is around 40 years old and is a resident of Male. In 2011, he was arrested for the first time for burglary and other petty offences (Sun Online, April 21, 2011). Not long after this, he became an integral part of the Maldivian underworld ....

Read More at Animesh Roul, "The Curious Case of Ahmed Muaz: How Islamist Groups Coopt Criminal Gangs to Advance Radicalism in the Maldives", Militant Leadership Monitor (Subscription),  Vol. 14 (3), March 2023.#maldives #islamist #counterterrorism #jihad #violence