SITE Intelligence Group, an organisation that tracks online activity of extremist organisations, disclosed on Friday that the international terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the blaze set in Mahibadhoo, Alif Dhaalu Atoll, this Wednesday.
Police ruled the incident as arson on Wednesday night, speculating that it was pre-planned and carried out by extremists or drug traffickers as retaliation against the authorities' ongoing special operations since September 2019.
Four speedboats, a sea ambulance, and two dinghy's docked adjacent to each other at Mahibadhoo's harbour went up in flames in the fire. Two of the burnt speedboats belonged to a private company, while one was a police launch and the other owned by the Alifu Dhaalu Atoll council.
According to the Director of SITE Intelligence Group Rita Katz, IS stated that the boats belonged to the "apostate Maldivian government and its loyalists" and were destroyed using "incendiary bombs", but revealed no further details.
Speaking at Wednesday night's news briefing, Commissioner of Police (CP) Mohamed Hameed confirmed that the police launch docked at the harbour of Gan, Laamu Atoll, also burned in a deliberately set fire on March 22.
SITE Intelligence noted that the terrorist organisation's claim also remarked that "the police... hinted at similar attacks in the past, targeting boats and property of the apostate government".
As per Katz, this statement seems to directly imply that IS fighters were behind the March 22 arson attack as well.
Local IS supporters also carried out a stabbing attack on foreigners in February, releasing a video shortly after, claiming responsibility for the assaults and threatening more violence.
Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) assured earlier this week that security forces were prepared to tackle any attacks carried out by extremists in this delicate time period where most of the state's resources are mobilised to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
International organisations against terrorism had previously warned countries to be vigilant, as IS may use the global pandemic as an opportunity to carry out their terrorist operations.