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Police arrest top Maldivian "terrorist"

Mohamed Visham
29 June 2016, MVT 12:38
Some Maldivian jihadists pictured in Syria.
Mohamed Visham
29 June 2016, MVT 12:38

A local who had been fighting abroad for a terrorist group has been arrested upon his return to the Maldives, Mihaaru has found.

It is believed that the man had left with his family to join a foreign conflict in 2007. Mihaaru has been unable to confirm which country he had fought in. However, most of the locals at the time had gone to Pakistan.

Most of the suspects connected to the 2007 Sultan Park bombing had fled to Pakistan shortly after the attack.

Sources say Police had arrested the man who had been a high ranking officer in the terrorist group after he returned to Maldives a week ago.

It is however yet to be confirmed whether he had brought his family back to the Maldives with him.

Mihaaru has been unable to confirm the identity man in custody who has been remanded for 15 days.

The arrest comes days after the defence minister said the government has been able to identify some of the jihadi recruiters operating in the Maldives.

Defence minister Adam Shareef said last week 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.

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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