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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Reappointment of Dr Shaheem as Islamic Minister could sink Dr Mohammed Muizzu’s presidential ship

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The President of Maldives Dr Mohammed Muizzu has close family connections with an NGO Jamiyyath Salaf. The NGO is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and is known to be an Islamic radical organization, and a recruiter for terror operatives for Lashkar-E-Toiba, Al Qaeda, and ISIS. President of Jamiyyath Salaf, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Ibrahim is the brother of the wife of Dr Mohammed Muizzu.

It now appears, that Dr. Mohammed Muizzu’s push for another controversial Islamic radical Dr. Shaheem Mohammed Ali Saeed in his government, also linked to Jamiyyath Salaf and its extremist beliefs, and who is still not cleared officially on the controversy surrounding his questionable role in the death of former Maldivian Member of Parliament Dr. Afrasheem Ali further exposes Dr. Muizzu’s links to the Salafist radical ideology and their questionable intent radicalization under the guise of governance.

Today, in a true mark of a dictator-in-the-making, Dr Mohammed Muizzu has reappointed the three ministers the Maldivian parliament voted to deny approval to their respective ministries.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) voted to deny approval to Housing Minister Dr. Ali Haidar Ahmed, Islamic Affairs Minister Dr. Mohammed Shaheem Ali Saeed, and Attorney General Ahmed Ushman.

Earlier today, GoaChronicle learned that the three ministers took an oath of office today during a ceremony held at the President’s office. The oath to office was administered by Supreme Court Justice Husnu Al Suood.

Haidar was rejected with a vote of 46-24, Usham was rejected with a vote of 44-24 and Shaheem was rejected with a voter of 31-30, with eight parliamentarians abstaining from voting.

Dr Mohammed Shaheem Ali Saeed is known to be close to Jamiyyath Salaf. Dr. Shaheem and Jamiyyath Salaf were being investigated for their role that led to the murder of Dr Afrasheem Ali, a former Member of Parliament of Maldives. On December 4th, 2019, the Presidential Commission sent Dr. Shaheem’s name to the Prosecutor General’s office (PGO) to raise charges for giving false information to the commission regarding the murder of Dr. Afrasheem Ali, which obstructed the investigation. The PGO sent back the case, stating that the investigation was incomplete and required further information.

Presidential Commission Investigating Murders and Enforced Disappearances’s report on religious scholar Dr. Afrasheem’s murder revealed that an extremist religious organization (referring to JS) was behind the murder of the former MP. A closed-door meeting was held by the 241 Committee to discuss taking action against the Jamiyyath Salaf. The then Speaker Mohammed Nasheed stated that he had received information that the sub-committee formed by the 241 committee had decided that Jamiyyath Salaf is a religious group that encourages and supports terrorism and that the committee is preparing to take action against the organization.

The Maldivian Parliament passed to take immediate action against Dr. Mohamed Shaheem and Jamiyyath Salaf and any affiliated people to the murder of Dr. Afrasheem Ali. The Parliament passed this after a vote taken on the report compiled by the Security Services Committee (241 Committee) following its review of the Disappearances and Deaths Commission (DDCOm)’s report of Dr. Afrasheem’s murder. The report by 241 committee included recommendations against several local groups including Jamiyyath Salaf. The report was passed with the vote of 47 lawmakers out of 59 who were present. 10 had voted against passing the report. The committee report classified Jamiyyath Salaf as the organization that headed all extremist actions related to the murder of Dr. Afrasheem. Local extremist groups flagged in the report include; local Al-Qaeda branch, local groups affiliated with Islamic State (IS), Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria or al-Qaeda in the Levant), and extremist groups that operate near Masjid al-Furqan.

Dr Shaheem was the Islamic Affairs Minister of Maldives when Dr Afrasheem Ali was murdered in 2012. According to the statement given by Dr Shaheem to the Presidential Commission, Dr Afrasheem requested to go on the TV program aired on the night of his murder. However, text messages exchanged between Dr. Shaheem and Dr. Afrasheem obtained by the Presidential Commission show that it was Dr. Shaheem who invited Dr Afrasheem to the Ministry on the day of his murder. The former Member of Parliament of Maldives Dr Afrasheem Ali was murdered in the stairwell of his residence when he returned home after the TV program. According to the PC report, Dr Shaheem received a text message before the murder that suggested the senders would “love Afrasheem if he repents and announces on the media.” Shaheem forwarded the message to Afrasheem on September 12, 2012, but claimed he did not remember who the sender was when he was questioned by the commission.

A group of Islamic radicals linked to Al Qaeda was led by Mohamed Mazeed and Somith Mohamed. The planning was overseen by Azlif Rauf, a former soldier charged in connection with the murder who was allowed to leave the country in January 2015. An estimated USD 260,000 was the contract money paid to assassinate Dr Afrasheem Ali.

The Presidential Commission also suspected the involvement of nine people who left the country hours after the murder and joined militant groups in Syria and Iraq. A group of suspects were inside Afrasheem’s apartment building and the nearby Christie’s restaurant on the night of the murder. Strangely, Dr Shaheem left the country a day after the murder.

Then former President Mohammed Nasheed had told the media in Maldives that the Al-Qaeda branch in the Maldives was divided into small cells whose members did not know each other. Subgroups were tasked with proselytizing, managing finances, and other matters. Members of the first group operate openly but members in charge of raising finances take precautions such as not keeping long beards and using casual language. In June 2014, the organization’s leadership split into rival groups that supported al-Qaeda and the Islamic State led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Sadly, however, investigations into the case have still not concluded and do not appear to be reaching a logical justice-driven conclusion soon.

It is interesting for Indians to note that Dr. Mohammed Shahmeen Ali Saeed also led Maldivians and members from his political party coalition PPM-PNC in a rally against former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her controversial statements against Prophet Mohammed on an Indian TV debate. He even took a press conference, a few days before the rally against Nupur Sharma where he categorically stated that merely suspending two top officials (Nupur Sharma and Navin Jindal) was not enough by the ruling BJP government.

He further went on to state, “No matter who slanders the Islamic religion or Prophet Mohammed, an Islamic nation must take adequate action over it. Releasing a ‘cold statement’ regarding the issue was not considered the most adequate course of action. Major Islamic nations had condemned the act – and did everything else in their capacity as well. No matter what sort of friendship there is; this sort of thing should not be played down.”

Dr Shaheem has openly condemned ISIS and its operatives but sadly those appear to be mere political rhetoric because he never ensured action against protestors who carried ISIS flags outside his home demanding a boycott of Israeli tourists coming to Maldives a few years ago. In another incident, the Islamic Ministry of Maldives under Dr. Shaheem provided a meeting hall of the Islamic center for a religious sermon which was advertised with the ISIS logo, according to the claims made by the Maldivian Democratic Party then.

Whether the Maldivian President Dr. Muizzu’s strong-arm tactics to swear in the three ministers including Dr. Shaheem stand the test of the Supreme Court of Maldives is a matter that will be decided in a few weeks but in a similar act carried out by former President Mohammed Nasheed, the then President faced the ire of the Supreme Court and it ruled that the seven cabinet ministers not endorsed by the opposition-majority parliament cannot remain in their ministerial posts.

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