MP presses govt. on commutation of alleged terror recruiter’s sentence

West Henveiru MP Hassan Latheef. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader and Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed’s faction pressed President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration on Wednesday, demanding an explanation for the reason why repeated queries seeking the reason for the commutation of the prison sentence issued against Abdulla Ali Manik – believed by police to be a top terror recruiter – have gone unanswered.

Ali Manik was imprisoned in connection to the violence in HA. Himandhoo back in 2007, when a group of separatists propagated extremist religious ideologies, and faced off with the security forces armed with wooden bats, sharpened metal rods and machetes.

He had been free after getting his sentence commuted when he was rearrested in connection to the 2021 assassination attempt on Nasheed.

The issue was raised at the Parliament by West Henveiru MP Hassan Latheef on Wednesday morning.

In a letter to the Speaker, Hassan Latheef said President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had commuted the sentence of one of the suspects of the IED attack on Nasheed, ahead of the attack.

“The 241 Committee sent letters to the President’s Office twice seeking an explanation to why he was released. But the committee hasn’t received a response,” he said.

Hassan Latheef said that standard procedure dictates that the sentences of convicts are commuted only after a behavioral analysis, which is reviewed by the Director of Prisons.

Abdulla Ali Manik, Bahaaruge, HA. Molhadhoo.

He said the behavior analysis report wasn’t taken into consideration when the individual in question was released.

Hassan Latheef said the individual was released on August 20, 2019, while the report was dated September 1, 2021.

“A request was made to clarify the information from the President’s Office due to multiple suspicions in this,” he said.

Nasheed, who was presiding Wednesday’s sitting, said he can only ask the president to clarify the information given his position as Speaker, and that he had “no other ways” he can request the information from him.

“I respectfully ask the president to share this information with the Parliament,” he said.

The terror attack targeting Nasheed with a homemade remote-controlled IED took place on May 6, 2021. Nasheed sustained multiple shrapnel wounds, while three members of his security detail and two bystanders sustained minor wounds.

The May 6 trial has produced only one conviction, that against Adhuham Ahmed Rasheed, Hiyaa, V. Thinadhoo, who confessed to detonating the IED. He signed a plea deal with the prosecution and received a reduced sentence of 23 years in prison in 2021.

Total 11 people were charged in connection to the May 6 attack, including Adhuham. The other defendants are:

  • Mujaz Ahmed, Ma. Feyruge, K. Male’
  • Thahmeen Ahmed, Folheyma, GA. Kondey
  • Ali Haisham, Nooreege, N. Manadhoo
  • Mohamed Nazim, Asareege, AA. Maalhos
  • Fahumy Ali, Hudhuruvaage, GA. Vilingili
  • Abdulla Ali Manik, Bahaaruge, HA. Molhadhoo
  • Is’haq, M. Kudhehige, K. Male’
  • Mohamed Thasleem, Alanaasige, HA. Hoarafushi
  • Hassan Yaseen, Dhafthar 6231
  • Mohamed Zoomal Zareer, Hulhumale’ 56-3-07
Security forces at the scene of an explosion outside the residence of Parliament Speaker, former President Mohamed Nasheed on May 6, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Police believe Ali Manik to be a top recruiter of Maldivians for militant activities overseas in the name of ‘jihad’, and of holding separate communal prayers and classes to propagate extremist ideologies.

He was sentenced to prison in connection to the Himandhoo violence in 2008. He escaped from prison twice during that time.

His first prison escape was in 2009. He was later found living in GDh. Thinadhoo, and during his transfer to Male’ City, made another escape attempt by jumping overboard, off the coast of V. Fulidhoo.

His second prison escape was in 2010. He was found a year later living in K. Thilafushi. Police reported at the time that he had been heavily disguised.