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Friday, March 1, 2024

Maldivian hands in the 26/11 terror attacks on India

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So far, India, the US, and the world have been aware of the fact that David Headley was the reconnaissance man for the Lashkar-E-Toiba (LeT). After receiving instructions in late 2005 to conduct surveillance in India, Headley made five extended trips to Mumbai in September 2006, February and September 2007, and April and July 2008, each time making videotapes of various potential targets including those attacked on 26/11. But David Headley was not the only reconnaissance man for the LeT. After 15 years, GoaChronicle tracked the truth of the second reconnaissance man.

LeT had also commissioned a Maldivian youth Mohamed Ziliyan. His Maldivian National Identity Number is A071311 to visit India and undertake a reconnaissance in India in particular Mumbai and Bengaluru and provide to the terror outfit videos, photographs, and observations of places of interest.

Mohammed Ziliyan (son of Ahmed Ibrahim) went to Yemen via Colombo with the assistance of his family after he was suspected of being a part of the uprising in Maldives in 2005. His name even appeared on the ‘Wanted List’ of Maldives Police. In Yemen, he met with LeT and left for Pakistan with them. He was trained by LeT in Pakistan and he agreed to work as a paid agent for them. His first assignment was to travel to India and provide places of interest to LeT. He was provided with a mini-pocket camera and money to travel with.

Maldivian hands in the 26/11 terror attacks on India - Arshad Warsi, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Maldives, Mohamed Ziliyan, Mohammed Shahnawaz, Mohammen Rizwan Ashraf, Mumbai 26/11 Terror Attack, President Mohammed Nasheed
Mohammed Ziliyan

Ziliyan visited several locations in Mumbai as instructed by LeT. He took pictures and observed these locations which included the Taj Hotel, Trident, Hospitals, Railway Station, Nariman House, some offices of foreign delegates as well as shopping complexes. His photos and observations were reported to LeT. His photographs were used in the planning of the terrorist attacks on several locations in Mumbai.

Importantly, Ziliyan’s father had several friends at different levels of society in India and was fluent in some local languages like Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Gujarati. Mohammad Ziliyan spent some years in India studying. He was studying in Bengaluru.

Sources in the intelligence circle in the Maldives have told GoaChronicle that Mohammed Ziliyan was a relative of a powerful politician of the Maldivian government then.

The truth about the role of Maldivians in the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks was confirmed by none other than the Former President of Maldives Mohammed Nasheed in an interview with an Indian media house. When questioned by a female journalist on the rise of Islamic radicalism in Maldives, Nasheed, said, “Yes, we have a serious issue with Islamist radicals, we know that many are being trained by the Al Qaeda in the northern reaches of Pakistan. Several Maldivians have been arrested by Pakistani authorities after they crossed into Pakistan from India. The recruitment of Islamist radicals takes place in the Maldives and their channel of movement is up to Pakistan. They are getting trained there by Al Qaeda to fight the war in Afghanistan. I believe that the identity of all the dead terrorists in the Mumbai attacks has not been broken down into nationalities. I feel there is a Maldivian connection to the Mumbai attacks. Well, we have information from the families of terrorists who are still in the Maldives about this.”

LeT terror modules connected with Maldives and India first surfaced in 2007, after the Male Sultan Park blast. Asif a terror operative connected with this blast was arrested by the Kerala police and under interrogation he spoke in detail about the links between the terror groups in Kerala and Maldives. India’s Intelligence Bureau has also tracked the operation of the Jaish-E-Mohammad module in Thiruvananthapuram in 2010. That module had a direct link to the Maldives operation. Then within the intelligence circles, there was strong information that LeT was shifting its base out of Pakistan to Maldives because it had patronage from some people in powerful political positions in Maldives. LeT terror operatives Sarfaraz Nawaz and Sabahuddin revealed to the Indian intelligence agencies about LeT plans in the Maldives.

It is also important to put out that Ibrahim Mohammed, brother of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed, President, Jamiyyath Salaf went for training at a LeT camp in Pakistan. Incidentally, both Ibrahim Mohammed and Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed are brothers of the first lady and wife of the current President of Maldives Dr Mohamed Muizzu.

And now the arrest of Mohammed Shahnawaz, Mohammed Rizwan Ashraf, and Arshad Warsi by the Delhi Special Cell last year brings to the fore terror operatives from Maldives working in India.

Based on credible intelligence inputs, over two months of surveillance and raids in 200 locations, the Delhi Police Special Cell arrested a mining engineer Mohammed Shahnawaz last year. Investigations exposed that he was an ISIS operative and that he and his team planned high-intensity bomb blasts across India with Akshardham Temple in New Delhi, Ayodhya and Chabad House in Mumbai were the primary target locations.

During his interrogation, Shahnawaz told the investigating authorities that he had come in touch with a woman from Maldives, who introduced him to the ISIS terror network and was also his handler. He met her through the messaging App Telegram. The name of the chat group on the messaging App Telegram was ‘Caged Parrot’.

Shahnawaz further revealed that the Maldivian woman told him that she was campaigning to raise funds for the women in the Al-Hawal (ISIS refugee detention center) refugee camp on the Syria-Iraq border. While the initial conversation with the woman revolved around raising funds for the refugee camp and Shahnawaz donated Rs 1.40 lakh through Google Pay using an accomplice teacher from Kerala in two tranches; the relationship further intensified over the weeks and later discussions focused on the expansion of ISIS in India, the role Shahnawaz could play in spreading the message of ISIS in India and also planning ‘Islamic Jihad’ within the country.

Shahnawaz introduced two of his friends – Arshad Warsi and Mohammad Rizwaz Ashraf, who were also engineers to this ISIS cell operating in India. All three were indoctrinated by the Maldivian woman, her brother another Maldivian ISIS operative. All three engineers turned ISIS operatives. They were also introduced to other ISIS operatives in India and internationally. Together, a team of ISIS operatives put into action a plan of a terror attack at Akshardham Temple in New Delhi, Ayodhya, and Chabad House in Mumbai which included Shahnawaz, Ashraf, and Warsi.

Besides doing the recce on the targeted location, Shahnawaz who had done his B-Tech in Mining from NIT was also responsible for making IEDs and even tested them. Mohammed Rizwan Ashraf was born in Jeddah and he did his BTech (IT) in Ghaziabad. Arshad Warsi was a BTech in Mechanical Engineering, he also did his MBA and was pursuing his PhD at Jamia Islamia University. They were arrested with the components to make the IEDs for the bomb blasts.

Maldives is slowly moving from being a tourism haven to a terrorism haven with patronage from political leaders in Maldives. Recently, the Maldivian government chartered a plane from Turkey to Male to bring back 24 ISIS operatives who were in the Al Hawal camp and their families. Incidentally, the Al Hawal camp at the Syria-Iraq border was the camp where the recently arrested ISIS operative in New Delhi, Mohammed Shahnawaz sent Rs 1.4 lakh through an accomplice in Kerala. Also, the current Maldivian government is working to bring 243 ISIS operatives from Maldives jailed in Afghanistan to the country.

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