The United States on Tuesday designated a Maldivian as a “terrorist leader” for the first time and imposed targeted sanctions against the 35-year-old man.
Mohamed Ameen was described as a recruiter for ISIS-Khorasan, a branch of the militant group Islamic State, and a “key leader for ISIS in Syria, Afghanistan, and the Maldives [who] used to direct terrorist fighters to Syria, but now sends them to Afghanistan.”
As of April 2019, Ameen was “actively engaged in leading ISIS recruitment” in the Maldives, according to a press release from the US Treasury Department.
“Ameen’s subordinates were holding roughly 10 recruitment sessions per week under the guise of Islamic classes at several Malé, Maldives-based locations, including Ameen’s home. Ameen and his group continued to recruit on behalf of ISIS from various Maldivian criminal gangs,” it added.
Ameen was also accused of sending a Maldivian citizen to Afghanistan to work as a member of the terrorist organisation/s digital media team. “The ISIS-K digital media member was told he would receive $700 monthly in salary and was responsible for translating material for Ameen.”
According to local media, Ameen remains free in the Maldives.
Last week, a presidential commission named Ameen as the leader of a Maldivian extremist group affiliated with ISIS. A secret witness told the commission that the ISIS affiliate was formed after in the wake of a split among local extremists after Abubakr al-Baghdadi declared the Islamic State in 2014. One group pledged their allegiance to the rival al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, the inquiry commission found.
Ameen was suspected of involvement in the 2007 Sultan Park bombing that injured a dozen tourists. An Interpol red notice was issued after he fled the country before the bomb blast.
He was arrested from Sri Lanka and brought back to the Maldives in October 2011. But the criminal court ordered his release in May 2012 “on the condition that he not get involved in any further terrorist activities, and not leave the country.”