NCTC: Extremism advancing due to failures of religious scholars to respond

Maldives National Defense Force's (MNDF) Chief of Defense Force, Major General Abdulla Shamaal (R) and Defense Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi (L). (Sun Photo/Muzayyin Nazim)

The National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) has stated that the spread of extremism is due to the inability of religious scholars to answer and respond to such people with extremist ideology.

The NCTC showcased a presentation on the spread of extremism in the Maldives at the “Viyavathi Raajje” councilors conference held in Crossroads Maldives today.

The presentation by MNDF and Police showed that local individuals traveling for “Jihad” to other countries were doing so after deciding that it had been imposed upon them, as an obligation in the religion, by themselves. Mohamed Yamaany Jaufar, who spoke at the presentation on behalf of NCTC said that such people believed that it was also an obligation to travel from a land of disbelievers to a land of faith or belief.

The networks carrying out the recruitment of such people were doing so in a wide manner and even issued “Daleels” (guides or evidence of the religion) in their campaigns of recruitment on social media. Yamaany stated that religious scholars in the country failed to deal with these campaigns and issue adequate responses.

“We believe that the failure to respond to these “Daleels” by our religious scholars is one of the reasons why they (recruiters) are gaining advances,” said Yamaany.

The spread of extremism affected the local tourism industry and Maldivians even, as they faced difficulties in traveling to other countries. She also noted the dangers of bringing back locals who have been trained and taken part in wars abroad.

The statistics published by the NCTC showed that 173 locals had traveled for “Jihad” to Syria.

The conference informed councilors on what extremist ideology was and what paves the way for it. NCTC also shared with councilors what can be done to limit and combat this.

Important steps that can be taken against extremism

  • Prevent the creation of divisions in the community and work towards resolving factors that pave the way towards extremism.
  • Awareness programs conducted jointly with institutions to prevent the spread of extremism.
  • Conducting beforehand background checks on foreign scholars invited to local religious programs with the Ministries.
  • Identifying those involved in extremism and its spread and notifying the authorities of such people.

Yamaany also said that people with extremist ideologies often saw others as non-believers and their goods as spoils of war. They carry out well-planned robberies and “cut off” relations with blood relatives. These people are also not shy to carry out cruel acts towards others with differences in ideology, according to Yamaany.