The Maldives is not only a hub of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operatives but also of Pakistan based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) along with narcotic smugglers as well, top intelligence sources said on January 9, 2024. The sources also claimed that narcotics trade is very common in uninhabited islands and it is linked with gangsters lodged in local jails.
Challenges Facing Maldives
The sources further revealed that Maldives is facing and suffering heavily from radical Islamic fundamentalists who are funding the local government with the involvement of some big business houses. In the greed to grow, these businesses houses have been drawn towards Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) and Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, the sources said.
According to them, many leaders from the Lashkar-e-Toiba, have settled in the island nation to expand their global activities. This after then Union Minister of P. Chidambaram intervention in 2010 for the safety of the Indian tourists when it was decided that Maldives will not give refuge to the Lashkar operatives following the 2008 (26/11 terrorist attacks) in Mumbai.
In South Asia, the narcotic and terrorist networks are often interlinked, the sources said. According to them, the key ISIS-K Operative Umar Nisar Bhat (aka Qasim Khorasani), who was arrested in 2021 by agencies said in his confession that he was in regular contact and touch with Bangladesh and Maldives based Islamic Ameer (Chief) and he could have used that to expand terrorist propaganda networks.
Khorasani was in contact with Pakistani national Huzaifa-al-Bakistani, who was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan After his interrogation, the Indian agencies gave this data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and later, he was arrested by them, said the sources. Khorasani told the Indian agencies that his main aim was cyber propaganda and literature and for this reason, he was in touch with Maldives based ISIS modules and used to get material against India, they added.
According to officials involved in the Umar-Nisar interrogation, he was about to turn into Ansari (soldier) due to the material supplied by the Maldives based ISIS Chief but got caught in the initial stage. The agencies are not ruling out the Maldives being safe haven for terrorist activities and a hub of the ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Pakistani groups. The Sri Lanka attack was also linked to Maldives agencies investigating the matter.