Malaysian news outlets have reported that two Maldivian nationals were apprehended in a major anti-terrorism operation that took place last month.
According to sources, a 29-year-old and a 33-year-old from the Maldives were arrested on August 7 in an operation that was conducted after gathering intelligence on a potential terrorist attack in Malaysia.
The two Maldivian men were not directly involved in the terrorist activities, the news outlet reported.
Whilst the authorities did not reveal the names of these two individuals, they stated that the two men were arrested for using Malaysia and Singapore as a transit point to depart to Syria.
It also revealed that the two men were working in Malaysia as maintenance men for air conditioners.
Some news outlets reported that the men were apprehended from Johor Bahru, the southernmost tip of the Malaysian peninsula, on suspicion of planning a major terrorist attack in the country on August 30.
A total of 17 people from different nationalities were arrested in the bust, which included individuals from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Palestine, Philippines and Iraq.
However, not all of them were directly involved in planning the potential terrorist attack, the authorities revealed. Some of the individuals – including the Maldivians – were arrested for having affiliations with known terrorist organisations.
Statistics published by various relevant international bodies insist that the number of locals joining the Syrian conflict is at about 250 – which makes the Maldives the country with the highest number of insurgents in Syria per capita.
However, the government has consistently downplayed this figure; last year, the plolice had placed its official figure of the number of Maldivians fighting in Syria at around 180, whilst the Minister of Defence Adam Shareef had put it at approximately 49, stating that it was mostly made up of ex-convicts and school dropouts.