Police have released the identities of all 10 suspects arrested in connection to the IED attack targeting Parliament Speaker, former President Mohamed Nasheed on May 6, including a man they believe to have been one of the people who led the planning of the attack.
A homemade remote-controlled IED was strapped to motorcycle parked nearby Nasheed’s residence, and was detonated at 08:27 pm on May 6, just as Nasheed, 54, exited his residence and went to get in his car. Nasheed was thrown to the ground and sustained multiple shrapnel wounds, while three members of his security detail and two bystanders sustained minor wounds.
In a press conference on Saturday night, Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed announced authorities have made a significant arrest in the case – a suspect they believe played a key role in planning the attack.
“An individual who persuaded and instructed the suspects that President Nasheed needed to be attacked and killed, and who investigators believe to be one of the people who led the planning of the attack, was arrested from Addu City earlier this Saturday. He is Mohamed Thasleem from Alanaasige in HA. Hoarafushi,” announced Hameed.
Thasleem had been previously investigated and pressed with charges for an attempt to prepare an IED.
Hameed said Thasleem was one of the suspects arrested from Machangolhi district of Male’ City back in 2017 for active involvement in an attempt to prepare an IED inside the office of private company Attic International Pvt. Ltd.
He was arrested on April 24, 2017, but released on October 28, 2018, after the case was investigated and charges against him were filed with the court.
“Though his release was appealed, the appeal was withdrawn following his re-arrest in the operation in connection to the May 6 attack as the appeal had remained stymied for over two years,” said Hameed.
Police said they have made total 10 arrests in connection to the case, including people involved in planning and executing the attack.
Identities of six of the suspects were released for the first time this Saturday. They are:
Police previously disclosed the identities of four suspects arrested in the case; Ahmed Adhuham Rasheed, 26, Hiyaa, V. Thinadhoo; Mujaz Ahmed, 21, Ma. Feyruge, K. Male’; Thahmeen Ahmed, 32, Folheyma, GA. Kondey; and Ahmed Fathih, 23, Dhunfini Ufaa, L. Gan.
Adhuham is the man police believe detonated the bomb with a remote-controlled device. CP Hameed said on Saturday that Adhuham had been ready for a suicide attack, if necessary.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Mohamed Riyaz said the suspects involved in the attack believe Nasheed to be an apostate who openly mocks the religion of Islam and Prophet Mohamed, and that killing him to be justified.
He said that the suspects support ISIS, and are involved in propagating the terror group’s ideologies in Maldives.
However, there is no evidence of a direct link between them and ISIS or any other international terror organization, he said.
“The investigation uncovered they believe themselves to be religious scholars who have not received any education from the official education system who issue fatwas, and interpret and translate the Holy Quran, Sunnah, and Islamic Fiqh and Qaida to fit their vision and propagate it to other people, and work to lead other people towards such destructive acts,” said Riyaz.
He said the evidence uncovered so far does not suggest the suspects carried out the attack in exchange for money.
Riyaz said the suspects also made previous attempts to target Nasheed with an IED attack using the same motorcycle used in the May 6 attack, including parking the motorcycle strapped with an IED outside the residence on his spouse in Maafannu district of Male’ City on four different days.
Police detailed the role each of the suspects are believed to have played at Saturday’s press conference.
CP Hameed said investigators believe Thasleem, Is’haq and Ali Haisham played key roles in planning the attack.
SUSPECTS ASK FOR PLEA DEAL
The press conference was also attended by Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem, who said that some of the suspects were negotiating with the State for plea deals.
“Some of the suspects involved in the attack are negotiating with us for plea deals,” said Shameem.
He, however, did not specify the suspects negotiating for a plea deal.
Shameem said the State has yet to make a decision regarding making plea deals. And that the decision will be made after taking into consideration the value of the information they have to offer, and how effective the information proves in reaching the source of the attack.
He said that updates regarding possible plea deals will be disclosed at the next press conference.