Home Minister Sheikh Imran Abdulla says that the authorities have identified several locals who work in collaboration with ISIS or have other links with the terror group.
He made the comment during a ministerial questioning session at the Parliament this Tuesday.
He was asked for confirmation regarding the existence of ISIS members in Maldives, and clarification regarding action by state authorities to stop their operations.
In response to these questions, Imran noted that ISIS was on the official terror watchlist of the Maldivian government which was publicized under recent amendments to the Counter-Terrorism Act.
He confirmed the existence of locals with links to ISIS, and said that the state was working to identify and take action against them.
“Our investigations so far have identified several people in Maldives who either work in collaboration with, or have links with ISIS,” said Imran.
He said that some of them have been arrested by the police.
The police attested a man for suspected of involvement in recruitment of locals for jihadist groups in October. It marked the first arrest under the recently amended Counter-Terrorism Act.
The man, Mohamed Ameen, is on the terror watchlist of the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Questions over locals with links to ISIS comes after multiple crimes involving religious extremist elements took place in Maldives over the weekend. One of the cases involves a man getting stabbed and thrown overboard a sea cucumber fishing boat off the coast of A. A. Maalhos, the man’s illegal marriage to a 13-year-old girl, a group of strangers travelling to Sh. Maaungoodhoo and defacing the island’s buildings with the ISIS logo, and the vandalism of local coffee shop Meraki in Male’ City.
Imran was questioned regarding each of these cases at the Parliament.
He said that the police were in pursuit of the men who defaced buildings in Sh. Maaungoodhoo, who are at sea; and had arrested two suspects for the vandalism of the local coffee shop.
He also said that the attack onboard the sea cucumber fishing boat had been carried out by a single assailant who is now in police custody, and that the rest of the crew had been asleep at the time.
Imran also said that there wasn’t any investigative reason for the police to take the fishing boat on board which the crime took place into their custody, and that neither the boat, nor any of the rest of the crew had been taken into custody.