The missing journalist from the Maldives killed by al-Qaeda affiliate
A journalist who went missing in the Maldives five years ago was killed by a local affiliate of al-Qaeda, an investigator has said, publicly acknowledging for the first time the hardline group’s existence and efforts to silence liberal voices in the Indian Ocean island nation.
Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, whose disappearance in 2014 shook the Maldives, was forced into a car at knifepoint outside his home on the island of Hulhumale and taken to a boat out at sea where he was killed, said Husnu Suood, the head of a presidential commission set up to investigate the case.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Suood said the commission’s nine-month investigation found that then-President Abdulla Yameen tried to “divert the focus” of the police investigation, while his former deputy tried to obstruct justice in the case.
The findings addressed long-unanswered questions over the journalist’s fate and prompted an outpouring of grief. In a statement, Rilwan’s family said it heard the commission’s conclusion with “deep sorrow” and called for protection for witnesses in the case.
Officials in the Maldives, a popular Indian Ocean holiday destination, have previously denied the existence of hardline Islamic groups in the Sunni Muslim state, despite a spate of attacks against people advocating the practise of moderate Islam and freedom of belief.
The attacks include the killing in 2017 of a prominent blogger, Yameen Rasheed, who led a campaign to find Rilwan.
“Those who organised and financed Ahmed Rilwan’s abduction and Yameen Rasheed’s murder are the same,” Suood, a former judge, told a news conference in the Maldives’ capital, Male.
“We have to root this group out. They are dangerous.”
The inquiry commission was set up by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who assumed office last year vowing to fight corruption and free politicians jailed under his predecessor Yameen, who presided over a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent during his five-year rule.
Solih also promised justice for Rasheed’s killing and Rilwan’s abduction.
Source: Al Jazeera