SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
"Congratulations," said the voice on the crackling phone line from Lahore, "your sons have become martyrs for the faith in Kashmir." Ever since that January 27, 2007, call, the families of teenagers Mohammed Faseehu, from the Laam atoll island of Dhanbidhoo, and Shifahu Abdul Wahid, of Dhiffushi island in Kaaf atoll, have been engaged in a desperate search for their children. Despite petitioning both the Maldives Government and the Pakistan High Commission in Male, both families have so far drawn a blank. There is no trace of Mohamed Niaz, a Lahore-based seminary student from the Maldives who called with news of their death.
After the September 29, 2007, Sultan Park bombing in Male, the first-ever Islamist terror strike in the Maldives, however, intelligence services across the world – those of India, USA and UK among them – have developed a new interest in the missing men. A rising tide of violent Islamism, the Sultan Park bombings suggest, has begun to surge across the Maldives. Dozens of local men who have fought in Islamist campaigns across the region are now preparing to bring home their war. Experts, and many Maldives residents, fear the gathering storm could tear apart the island paradise.
Faseehu and Wahid had travelled to Pakistan in March, 2005, to study at a seminary in Karachi. Soon, they moved to the Jamiya Salafia Islamia at Faisalabad – a seminary whose alumni include several al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leaders. It is also a leading supplier of the Maldives’ large-scale import of Salafi neo-conservatism – and now, terrorism.
More than two decades ago, a young seminary student from the Maldives made the same journey as Faseehu and Wahid. Mohamed Ibrahim Sheikh returned to the islands in 1983, armed with the neo-conservative Salafism he had learned in Pakistan. He railed against the mainstream Sha’afi-Sunni traditions the regime of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom propagated. Soon, Sheikh was banished from Male to the southern atolls. Out of sight, though, Sheikh continued to preach his faith. Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed, the Qatar-educated cleric now held for his links with the Sultan Park terrorists, was among those who were influenced by Ibrahim Shiekh. Salafi mosques operating without the legal permission required by Maldives law were set up in Male. On the remote southern island of Himandhoo, in the Alif Alif atoll, Fareed was eventually to build a tiny Shariah-bound mini-state modelled on the Taliban’s Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the flow of students to Pakistan continued. Mohamed Halim, now vice-chief of administration for the Laam atoll, was among the first from the Maldives to study at Jamia Salafia. "There were 23 students from the Maldives there in 1989," he recalls, in perfect Urdu "and dozens of others at other seminaries across Pakistan. Some used to go off for training with jihadi groups along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border." Among Halim’s contemporaries was Fonadhoo island resident Ali Shareef, who has now been held for his alleged role in the Sultan Park bombing. Along with Mohamed Mazeed of Male, as well as Ali Rashid and Mohammad Saleem, both residents of Kalaidhoo island in Laam atoll, Shareef plotted to establish a Shariah-based state in the Maldives. The plot failed, but President Gayoom sent an envoy to Jamia Salafia to insist the seminary watched its students more closely.
It was a futile enterprise: at the seminary, religious education and jihad were organically enmeshed. Shareef’s contemporaries included, for example, Faislabad resident Abdul Malik. As head of the Lashkar-e-Toiba’s Umm-ul-Qura camp between 1998 and 2003, he trained thousands of LeT operatives for the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Operating under the code-name Abu Anas, Malik was eventually killed in a 2003 firefight with Indian troops near Sangrama, in northern J&K
Several Maldives students continued at LeT-run facilities in Pakistan, some during Malik’s tenure as head of Umm-ul-Qura. Ahmad Shah, a Male resident now battling a heroin addiction, was put through the daura-e-aam, or basic combat course, at a Lashkar-run camp in the late 1990s. "Many students from the Maldives were there," he recalls. Others were recruited from the Binori Masjid seminary in Karachi, the institution which gave birth to the Jaish-e-Mohammad’s Maulana Masood Azhar. One Maldives national, Ibrahim Fauzee, spent time in Guantanamo Bay after intelligence officials learned of his association with al Qaeda operatives.
In the run-up to the Sultan Park bombing, evidence emerged that these networks were preparing for more aggressive operations. Ali Shameem and Abdul Latheef Ibrahim, now held for their role in the terror cell, were arrested on charges of preparing to join the jihad in J&K. In April 2005, Ibrahim Asif was arrested in Kerala after attempting to source weapons from Thiruvanathapuram. And in 2006, Male residents Ali Jaleel, Fatimah Nasreen, and Aishath Raushan were arrested for preparing to go to Pakistan to receive jihad training. Although acquitted for want of evidence, Nasreen made little effort to veil her ideological leanings. In one recent interview, she said of Osama bin-Laden: "there are things I support, and things I can’t decide on".
Across the road from the Zikura Masjid, loud Hindi film music blasts out of a store selling high-end audio equipment. No-one seems to object: in the Maldives, the sacred and the profane have learned to coexist: Nasreen’s views are those of a small minority. Just around the corner, though, stand the Zeenia Manzil apartments, until recently the centre of Islamist efforts to change the local balance. Inside a makeshift, one-room mosque in the building, Police investigators say, a group of local residents linked to the ultra-right Jamaat Ahl-e-Hadis sect planned the Sultan Park bombing. Much of the funding for the Sultan Park bombing, investigators in the Maldives believe, came in from Islamist organisations based in Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Some USD 1,000 was recovered from Sultan Park-accused Moosa Inas, but Police say thousands more would have been needed to pay for the terror cell’s frequent international movements, proselytization activism, and recruitment operations. Investigators are, in particular, seeking to identify a United Kingdom national of South Asian origin, who identified himself to members of the Sultan Park terror cell as ‘Abu Issa’. Believed to be of South Asian descent, ‘Abu Issa’ is thought to have arrived in the Maldives soon after the 2005 Tsunami, armed with several thousand dollars in cash for victims then sheltered in the premises of a factory in Gan.
Moosa Inas, who, Police say triggered the explosive device that went off at Sultan Park, was among several local Islamists involved in distributing the relief. Ali Shareef and Mohammad Mazeed, arrested after the Maldives Defence Forces moved against the Islamist base at Himandhoo, also participated in the relief operations. Both men are believed to have earlier participated in an abortive plot to bring about an Islamic revolution. Fiyes magazine reporter Ahmed Abdulla, who covered the 2005 disaster, recalls: "Basically, Inas and the others made it clear that they would only help those who converted to their particular form of Islam. People were desperate, so many agreed." Interestingly, the charitable wing of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq, claimed to have spent PKR 17.2 million on tsunami relief operations in the region.
Apart from distributing funds to Islamists in the Maldives, intelligence sources said, ‘Abu Issa’ also travelled to Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram. One meeting between the terror financier and operatives in India is thought to have been held six months ago. Indian intelligence services believe Ibrahim Asif, a Maldives national arrested for seeking to procure weapons in Kerala in April 2005, may also have been financed by ‘Abu Issa.’
Much of the Islamist infrastructure built with these funds is thought to have been controlled by Saeed Ahmed, the Zeenia Manzil Masjid’s leading ideologue. Ahmed, who was a key participant in 2004 street protests against President Gayoom’s regime, left for Pakistan several months ago. His family claims to have no knowledge of his current whereabouts. Like several other Maldives Islamists, Ahmed is thought to have been linked to the Jamia Salafiya Islamia, the Faislabad-based seminary that has long had close links with both al Qaeda and the Lashkar.
Eight members of the terror cell – Ibrahim Maslamath, Mohamed Ameen, Mohamed Imad, Hassan Yousuf, Mohamed Iqbal, Moosa Manik, Hassan Riyaz, Hussain Simad – left for Karachi through Colombo before the bombings. Two other suspects, computer engineer Abdul Latheef Ibrahim and Ali Shameem, were deported from Colombo before they could catch an onward flight to Karachi.
Despite large-scale operations against Islamists, and over a hundred arrests linked to the Sultan Park bombing, officials in the Maldives say the terror threat has yet to recede. "I think we still need to be alert," Maldives Home Minister Abdullah Kamaludeen said, "Both the available intelligence and plain and simple prudence make this imperative."
Just why did Islamism flourish in paradise – in islands apparently free from the deep social and political strains that drove its growth in Pakistan or India? Two sets of processes – cultural and political, need be examined.
Nothing illustrates the changing cultural climate in the Maldives as well as the story of its top rock star, Ali Rameez. Three years ago, Rameez abandoned his place under the spotlights, and chose a new life guided by the light of Islam. In a public demonstration of his new convictions, the rock star had thousands of hit compact discs thrown into the sea off Male, and invited his fans to follow the teachings of the islands’ best-known neoconservative Islamic theologian, Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed: the man who inspired the Sultan Park cell. Rameez’s journey represents an ongoing battle between religious neo-conservatism and liberalism: a battle Islamists seem to be winning. Maldives residents say the cultural influence of Islamists has become increasingly visible in what used to be an almost ostentatiously westernised society. There are more women wearing headscarves than short skirts or jeans now, while growing number of men can be seen sporting full-length beards. On some islands, women have defied laws that prohibit the all-enveloping buruga, known in India as the burkha. Underpinning this shift is a deep cultural dislocation. Signs of the crisis aren’t hard to come by. Just three kilometres by two kilometres, Male is home to a welter of street gangs, engaging in violent crime and competing to sell drugs. Machangolhi’s Buru gang has clashed with the BG (a street gang) in Maafannu and the Flats’ Bosnia gang, named after the jihad which stirred Islamists worldwide.
Narcotics use has also grown to disturbing levels. According to a 2006 United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) report, non-governmental organisations have estimated that there are some 8,000 drug users in the islands – an astounding figure, given that their total population is just some 300,000. In the southern-most atoll of Addu, informants told UNICEF that up to 70 per cent of young men and women were using drugs. "Many parents," says Male journalist Ahmed Nazim Sattar, "are delighted when their children turn to religious groups, since it keeps them away from drugs and gangs. Very few understand where this journey might end up taking their children."
Bookstores selling the Islamist vision to new recruits have proliferated. One, until recently owned by Rameez’s brother, Ibrahim Fareed, stocks a wide range of Salafi sect literature. Zakir Naik, a controversial Mumbai-based television evangelist, whose admirers included 2005 Mumbai serial bombing-accused Feroze Deshmukh and Glasgow suicide-bomber Kafeel Ahmed, occupies a place of honour on the shelves.
President Gayoom’s complex, ever-changing relationship with Islamists in the Maldives has also driven the rightward-turn in the islands. Having risen to power three decades ago on his religious credentials from the famous al-Azhar University in Cairo, Gayoom used Islam as a tool of social control, often characterising his critics as apostates, or, even worse, Christians. Islam, regulated and propagated by the state, was adroitly used to marginalise his increasingly-vocal democratic opponents.
Islamists, often educated at state expense in West Asia and Pakistan, were quick to cash in. The journalist Aishath Velazinee has recorded:
Two key social classes in the Maldives backed militant Islamists. Merchants and traders, the islands’ traditional elites, had seen their influence decline as the power and wealth of new elites rose. Gayoom’s regime had given birth to an affluent new group of entrepreneurs, often linked to the tourism trade, and the traditional bourgeoisie saw piety as a means with which to reassert power. Second, universal school education had created a generation of young people with skills, but few entrepreneurial opportunities. Disinherited and disenfranchised, some turned to drugs and street violence; others to militant Islam.
With democratic voices silenced, religious fundamentalism emerged as the principal language of dissent. In December 1999, Islamists launched incendiary attacks against the regime, arguing that planned millennium celebrations were part of plot to spread Christianity. In 2003, posters appeared on the walls of schools in Edhyafushi Island, praising Osama bin-Laden. A Male shop displaying a Santa Claus was attacked in 2005.
Militant Islam now threatened the regime which had nurtured it. But while the government sometimes used coercive means to punish Pakistan-trained Islamists involved in violence – some famously had their beards shaved off with chilli sauce instead of foam – for the most part, it chose accommodation. Islamists who accepted the established political order – a group who call themselves ‘super-Salafis,’ to distinguish themselves from the jihadi ‘Dots’ – were given considerable freedom.
Ali Shareef, for example, returned to the Maldives despite his abortive plan to over throw the Government, and secured an appointment in the judicial service. He used his influence to help build the Islamist mini-state on Himandhoo, which, among other things, ran a Salafi mosque that rejected state-approved liturgical practices. Charges against Ibrahim Asif were dropped, after the Maldives Police chose not to secure witnesses or forensic evidence from India. Jaleel, Nasreen and Raushan, too, were set free.
Police shut down the Himandhoo mosque in 2006, but it was allowed to resume operations within weeks. Ibrahim Shameem, a Government supporter on the island who resisted the Islamists, was assassinated two months later in a reprisal killing that went unpunished. And while the Islamists and Police fought a street battle in June after officials attempted to close down a Salafi mosque in Male, at least two others operated unhindered. One, investigators have now found, gave birth to the cell which carried out the Sultan Park bombing.
Now under pressure, the Maldives finally appears to be cracking down. Soon after the Sultan Park bombing, troops and Police moved to clear the mini-state in Himandhoo, while Salafi mosques have been closed down. Almost a hundred people have been arrested. Still, trouble could lie ahead. Elections are scheduled for next year, and some analysts believe jihadis will escalate operations to ensure their cadre are not won away by mainstream parties like the secular Maldivian Democratic Party or Islamist Adaalath. Intelligence officials are also concerned at the possible use of remote Maldives Islands by organisations like the LeT, as well as at the steady flow of funds to local Islamists from organisations in Pakistan, west Asia, and the United Kingdom.
Hell, it would appear, isn’t that far a journey from paradise.
It was supposed to be a rather routine and uneventful trip from Myanmar to Assam through Nagaland for the group of seven United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) cadres. However, on November 11, barely a few kilometres from the Assam-Nagaland border, while passing through the Tizit town in the Mon District of Nagaland, the group was ambushed by National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) cadres. In the ensuing encounter, two ULFA cadres and a lone NSCN-IM cadre were killed, three others injured and two ULFA cadres were taken into custody by the Naga group.
The incident led to an expected spat between the two outfits. While ULFA asked for the release of its captured cadres, the NSCN-IM claimed that they had been handed over to the Police. The NSCN-IM, further, warned the ULFA to desist from trespassing into Nagaland without its permission, rebutting the latter’s claim that the route used by its cadres falls within a ‘disputed’ territory.
Occurring at a time when the group is already facing critical challenges to its survival, the incident could not have come at a worse time, from the ULFA’s perspective. Since the collapse of the temporary truce between the Union Government and ULFA in September 2006, a total of 655 ULFA militants have surrendered (till October 31, 2007) across the State. During the same period, in three Districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sibasagar alone, Army personnel have killed 51 militants from the outfit and arrested 95 others. Separately, the police and the central paramilitary forces have also neutralized a number of ULFA militants in independent operations. The pressures of attrition have pushed the group into crisis that threatens its very existence.
The November 11 incident is the first of its kind involving armed violence between the two ULFA and the NSCN-IM, who had parted ways in 2001, after nearly a decade-and-a-half-long courtship. In the late 1980s, the NSCN-IM had provided arms training to ULFA cadres and introduced the group to the Southeast Asian arms bazaars, thus assisting its transformation from ragtag group of troublemakers to an outfit that could rival the firepower of the Security Forces (SFs). Subsequent years had seen a cementing of ties between the two groups, and these withstood several conflicting developments, including the ULFA’s formation of an umbrella group of insurgent organisations in the Northeast, the Indo-Burma Revolutionary Front (IBRF), along with NSCN-IM’s bete noire, the Khaplang faction (NSCN-K) in May 1990.
The immediate reason for the estrangement between the groups was the June 13, 2001, Union Government decision to extend the ceasefire with the NSCN-IM ‘without territorial limits’. The NSCN-IM interpreted this as recognition of its avowed objective of Nagalim (Greater Nagaland). Since this grandiose vision includes significant portions of the Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills Districts of Assam, it was unacceptable to the ULFA, which claims to fight for a ‘sovereign Assam’. In its mouthpiece, Freedom, dated July 17, 2001 ULFA ridiculed the idea of Nagalim and opined that ‘history should not be distorted only to satisfy the chauvinistic ego.’ It further asked the NSCN-IM leaders to "review their stand concerning their most-talked Nagalim over others territories (sic)". Even though the Union Government was to annul its decision subsequently, relations between both groups never improved after this point.
The split with the NSCN-IM in 2001 pushed the ULFA further into the lap of the NSCN-K. ULFA’s cadres started using NSCN-K camps in the Sagaing division of Myanmar, just across the international border along Nagaland. Such camradarie further deepened after the December 2003 military blitzkrieg in Bhutan, in which ULFA lost all its bases in that country. Since then, ULFA’s ‘28th battalion’, which operates out of the Myanmar camps, has been solely responsible for the outfit’s concentrated activities in the State’s eastern-most Districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sibasagar. To execute these attacks, ULFA cadres have periodically travelled between Myanmar and Assam, principally using two routes: one through the Tirap and Changlang Districts of Arunachal Pradesh and another through the Mon District of Nagaland.
The NSCN-IM’s ambush of ULFA cadres is largely the fallout of ULFA’s ties with the NSCN-K and needs to be assessed within the context of the continuing fratricidal warfare between both the NSCN factions. Since their split in 1988, both the factions have engaged in bitter clashes across the entire territory of Nagaland and adjoining areas in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Area domination being the key objective, both factions have won and lost control over various Districts from time to time.
Interestingly, the November 11 ambush occurred at the Tizit sub-divisional town (under Mon District), where the NSCN-K has a designated camp, set up under its 2001 ceasefire agreement with the Government of India. Mon is the northern-most District of Nagaland and is strategically positioned at the tri-junction between Myanmar, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Control over the District has thus become vital for any outfit that does business in any of these three regions. If recent incidents are an indication, the NSCN-IM is beginning to secure an upper hand over the NSCN-K in Mon. Several NSCN-K cadres have deserted the outfit to join the rival faction, thus, weakening the traditional support base of the Khaplang group among the Konyak tribals who dominate the District. On at least on two occasions in 2007 (June 24 and July 4), both factions have clashed at Tizit, 44 kilometres away from Mon’s District headquarters. Earlier, in March 2005, the NSCN-IM carried out an attack on NSCN-K’s Mon-based Ceasefire Supervisory Board office. The fact that the NSCN-K is gradually loosing its grip over Mon is further evident in their October 2007 request to New Delhi to shift the Ceasefire Supervisory Board office to the District of Zunheboto, which is the group’s stronghold.
For the ULFA’s ‘28th battalion’, on the other hand, the Mon District has served as the shortest and safest transit route between Assam and Myanmar. Adjoining the Sibasagar District in Assam, Mon provides passages through the Patkai Hills range on the eastern side of the District to the NSCN-K camps at Lunglung in Myanmar. Another route starts from Sonari in Sibasagar District via Nyasa in Mon District and passes through Hoyet in Myanmar, to reach the camps located at Kachintala. However, the consolidation of NSCN-IM control over Mon and the November 11 ambush, makes both the routes highly unsafe and hence, unusable for Khaplang cadres. Dodging Mon and trekking through the adjoining Tuensang District to reach Assam is also not a workable option for the ULFA, as that considerably increases the length of the route, passing mostly through areas that are, again, dominated by the NSCN-IM.
This compels the ULFA’s ‘28th battalion’ to fall back on the routes through the Tirap and Changlang Districts of Arunachal Pradesh. These routes have traditionally been less preferred by the militants as they involve treks though extended road lengths, compared to the informal routes through Nagaland. Moreover, these two Districts have also witnessed extended NSCN-IM activity since 2000. On November 12, 2007, five civilians were injured as IM and K factions exchanged fire in the Lazu village of Tirap District. In addition, in recent times, SFs’ presence has increased in these Districts. A sweep operation by the SFs was conducted in Tirap on October 26, 2007, two days after an NSCN-IM ambush killed five persons, including three personnel of the para-military Assam Rifles. Using Arunachal Pradesh territory as a route is, consequently, no less risk-prone for the beleaguered ULFA.
These developments will certainly impact on the operational capacities and effectiveness of ULFA’s ‘28th battalion’. That being the only potent armed division of the outfit at present, the overall activity of ULFA in Assam is likely to be affected, with the State’s eastern-most Districts benefiting the most from the difficulties the rebel group is currently experiencing. It will be interesting to watch whether ULFA attempts to tide over the crisis by entering into an understanding with the NSCN-IM, though this cannot be an option as long its ties with NSCN-K remain intact.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
November 12-18, 2007
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Saikia Commission indicts former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta for secret killings in Assam: The Justice K.N. Saikia Commission has indicted the former Chief Minister, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, the then Police hierarchy and the Home Ministry for the "extra-constitutional killings" which occurred in Assam during 1998-2001. "There is enough evidence to show that the then Home Minister was at the helm of these extra-constitutional killings," the one-man Commission said. Mahanta, who was heading the Asom Gana Parishad-led Government, was also Home Minister during this period.
The report of the Commission, constituted by the State Government to probe the "secret killings" of family members of leaders and cadres of the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), was tabled in the Legislative Assembly by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on November 15, 2007. About the motive behind the "secret killings," the Commission said it was "perpetuation of the Asom Gana Parishad rule by villainy, treachery and monstrous cruelty and dangerous propensity." The Commission recommended to the Government "to try to first keep in abeyance, and then gradually dismantle" the Unified Command structure of the Army, the Assam Police and the Central Paramilitary Forces as an immediate measure to prevent recurrence of such killings. The Government also tabled the preliminary report of the Justice J.N. Sharma Commission, constituted prior to the setting up of the Saikia Commission. Justice Sharma said he was not able to identify the killers and accomplices, and pinpoint responsibility. The Hindu, November 16, 2007.
More than 120 militants killed in ongoing military operations in NWFP: Military spokesperson Major General Waheed Arshad disclosed on November 18, 2007 that about 120 militants and five soldiers had been killed in the past few days of military operations that targeted militant strongholds in the Swat and Shangla Districts. The spokesman had earlier termed as baseless the militants’ claim that 60 soldiers were killed in Shangla in two days of fighting. Further, General Waheed admitted to have received some reports about civilian casualties in the Shangla District, but did not provide any details. Security forces backed by helicopter gunships are currently targeting militant positions at various places, including Alpuri, the District Headquarters of Shangla – which the militants had captured on November 13 without any resistance – Belay Baba, Pagoray, Daulat Kalley, Shalmano, Tandar, Shahtoot and its adjoining localities. Without confirming or rejecting the casualties, the militants’ spokesman Sirajuddin said that he was in a war-like situation and could say nothing about the casualties at the moment. Daily Times; The News ; Dawn, November 13-19, 2007.
86 people killed in three days of sectarian violence in Parachinar: Security forces used Cobra helicopters on November 18, 2007, in an attempt to end the sectarian violence in which approximately 86 people have died and an unspecified number has been injured in Parachinar in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in three days. Two Cobra helicopters strafed combatants’ positions in and around Parachinar. Several shops reportedly caught fire when the helicopters attacked a market with rockets. Clashes ensued after two people were attacked in Parachinar city on November 15. Despite the presence of paramilitary personnel, warring factions started attacking each other’s positions with mortar shells and rockets. Daily Times ; Dawn, November 15-19, 2007.
Mohammedmian Soomro appointed caretaker Prime Minister: President Pervez Musharraf, on the night of November 15, named Mohammedmian Soomro, the chairman of the Pakistan Senate, as the Prime Minister of a caretaker Government tasked with conducting parliamentary elections in January 2008. At a farewell call on him by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, General Musharraf praised him for the "fast track socio-economic development" of Pakistan and described the smooth working relations between their two offices as "unparalleled." The Hindu, November 16, 2007.
Former ISI chief Hameed Gul released: The Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, General (retired) Hameed Gul, his son and two other detained persons, were released after the Government withdrew detention orders in Islamabad on November 15, 2007. Earlier, there was a report that the Saudi Arabian Government has intervened to secure his release. The report was not denied by the Pakistani Government. On November 14, General Hameed Gul and his son were shifted to their Chaklala residence, which had been declared a sub-jail. However, Security Force personnel were removed from his house on November 15 after the withdrawal of the detention order. Dawn, November 16, 2007.
Taliban take over Shangla town in NWFP: Around 500 local Taliban militants took over control of the Shangla District headquarters, Alpuri, on November 13, 2007, occupying the District Police Office (DPO), District Coordination Office (DCO) and Police lines, without facing any resistance from the Government. Eyewitnesses said the armed militants urged locals to stay calm and extend all possible support to them. Alpuri Union Council Nazim Sabir disclosed that armed militants, led by Maulana Muhammad Alam, a close associate of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) leader Maulana Fazlullah, captured the district. "All Government functionaries, including the DPO and DCO, left the area the moment they heard of the fall of Shangla Top Police Station, located at the border between Swat and Shangla," Sabir said. Taliban commander Maulana Muhammad Alam was quoted as saying that no one would be harmed nor would any private or state property be damaged. "We only struggle for the enforcement of Shariah," he told Alpuri residents. Daily Times, November 14 2007.
Unites States freezes assets of Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation: On November 15, 2007, the United States Government froze all the assets of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) front organisation in the USA, which raises money to support terrorist activities. In a Press Release, the US Embassy in Colombo stated that, "The US Department of the Treasury yesterday announced that it would freeze the US-held assets of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), a charitable organisation that acts as a front to facilitate fund-raising and procurement for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)." The TRO was designated under Executive Order 13224, which is aimed at financially isolating terrorist groups and their support networks. Executive Order 13224 freezes any assets held by designees under US jurisdiction and prohibits US persons from transacting with designees. Daily News, November 16, 2007.