Court agrees on closed trial for alleged ISIS operative Hood

Hood Mohamed Zahir, 30, joins his court hearing from Maafushi Prison on December 5, 2022.

The Criminal Court has decided to hold closed hearings in the case against an alleged top operative from the international terror group ISIS, who was arrested by the Maldives police in a joint operation with the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and investigative authorities from two European Union (EU) nations back in January.

Hood Mohamed Zahir, 30, V. Dhelwatta, was arrested from suburban Vilimale’ on January 6.

He is on trial on five charges of terrorism. They are:

  • Incitement to terrorism via internet
  • Propagating documents from a terror organization via internet
  • Membership at a terror organization
  • Supporting a terror organization
  • Possession of a document or drawing or picture showing support for a terror organization

At a hearing Monday, Judge Mohamed Misbah accepted the request by both the prosecution for closed hearings in the case.

Hood’s attorney, Noor al-Salam also asked for the judge to revise his client’s detention, arguing that all suspects arrested in the Yoga Day violence – a case which shares similarities with his client’s case - had also been released.

However, Misbah found there wasn’t sufficient grounds to revise the order to have Hood jailed pending the outcome of his trial.

Hood is suspected of professing support for ISIS and propagating the terror group’s documents, pictures and video on various social media platforms using different accounts, and threatening to plan and carry out a terror attack.

He faces minimum 34 years in prison if found guilty of the charges against him.