Maldivian man arrested for involvement in terrorist activities in Syria

File photo of armed Maldivian militants in Syria. (File Photo/Bilad Al-Sham Media)

Maldives Police Service has arrested a man suspected of taking part in terrorist activities in Syria.

According to Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed, the suspect, identified as a 34-year-old Maldivian man, returned to Maldives earlier this Thursday.

He was arrested on Thursday night.

He is on the potential list of Maldivian Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF), said Hameed.

The police are conducting a search operation at his residence.

The case is under investigation by the Serious and Organized Crime Department.

Hameed has previously stated that 423 Maldivians are recorded to have attempted to travel overseas to join terrorist activities in Iraq and Syria, and that 173 of them succeeded.

He said that hundreds of Maldivians were also recorded to have engaged in terrorist and extremist activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that police had received intelligence that some of them returned to Maldives and were involved in propagating their beliefs.

According to records released by the National Counter-Terrorism Center in December last year, 81 Maldivians who travelled to Syria are alive, 73 of them women and children.

Many of the Maldivian men who travelled to Syria have died, leaving their widowed wives and children stuck in refugee camps unable to return home. Their families have appealed to the government to allow them to return back home.

A Deradicalization and Rehabilitation Center has been built in K. Hinmafushi to rehabilitate Maldivians who return after engaging in militant activities overseas.