Maldives minister says jihadi recruiters identified

Defence minister Adam Shareef (L) pictured during the press conference held by the counter terrorism centre on Wednesday. MIHAARU PHOTO/NISHAN ALI

Defence minister Adam Shareef (L) pictured during the press conference held by the counter terrorism centre on last week. MIHAARU PHOTO/NISHAN ALI

The government has been able to identify some of the jihadi recruiters operating in the Maldives and are being closely monitored, defence minister Adam Shareef said Thursday.

But he was quick to argue that a lack of sufficient evidence has prevented authorities from taking action.

“We are trying to gather enough evidence to convict them in a court of law. So we are closely monitoring them now,” he said.

Shareef further reiterated that the level of religious extremism and the jihadist threat has continued to be blown out of proportion for political gain but said the security forces were “ready” to handle any threat.

Some Maldivian Jihadists pictured in Syria.

Some Maldivian Jihadists pictured in Syria.

Government has recently looked to take measures to curb the rising extremist ideologies in the island nation.

The government last week publicized the national policy to curb rising violent extremism ideology in the archipelago.

The strategy focuses on drafting new national security laws, improving intelligence gathering, safeguarding tourist resorts — a major part of the archipelago’s economy — and beefing up its international cooperation on terrorism.

In its policy statement, the government said the “difficult truth today is that there are people, however small in number, in the Maldives who are motivated by and cultivate violent extremist and terrorist ideology”.

“It is distressing to note that a limited number of Maldivian men have traveled to fight in various overseas conflicts, and some of them have chosen to take their wives and children along with them,” the statement said.

Various relevant international bodies and the opposition has insisted that the number of locals joining the Syrian conflict is at 250 which would make Maldives with the highest number of fighters in Syria per capita.

Government last week again downplayed the number of Maldivians joining foreign conflicts with the defence minister placing the number at 49 insisting that it was mostly made up of ex-convicts and school dropouts.

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