Young Maldivians at risk of becoming radicalised: U.S. State Department

Some have already joined violent extremist groups, says the report.

Updated - November 17, 2021 01:45 am IST

Published - June 04, 2016 08:21 pm IST - COLOMBO:

Sections of young Maldivians are at risk of becoming radicalised and some have already joined violent extremist groups, the Department of State in the US government, in its 2015 report on terrorism, has said.

The youth within the penal system and “otherwise marginalised” members of society have been identified in the report as those falling within this category of Maldivians.

Intent to become foreign terror fighters

Mentioning varying figures of Maldivians opting to become foreign terrorist fighters, the report referred to the arrest of four persons, regarded as members of Male’s Kuda Henveiru gang, in Malaysia under suspicion of attempting to travel to Syria to fight with terrorist groups. “The incident illustrated a pattern of Maldivian nationals having the intent of becoming foreign terrorist fighters transiting through third countries.”

The new “Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act” (PMLFT) in the place of the Anti-terrorism Act of 1990 defined acts of terrorism and set forth penalties of between seven and 25 years imprisonment for those convicted of these acts or inciting others to do so.

Terror entities’ list not yet

At the end of 2015, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had not yet published the mandatory list of terrorist entities, as required by the law.

Pointing out that the government of Maldives also used the PMLFT to “arrest political opponents and restrict political and media activity unrelated to terrorism,” the report recalled a suggestion by the country’s Human Rights Commission for a review of the Act due to the law “narrowing constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.”

Countering violent extremism

In the area of countering violent extremism, the State department said the government of Maldives continued to recognise that “counter-radicalisation efforts are a critical component to long-term success against violent extremism.” A government-sponsored Islamic university in Male opened in the last quarter of 2015 and its key objective would be “to promote the academic study of religion and “moderate Islam” as a counterweight to extremist discourses and messaging.”

The Fiqh Academy, a group of religious scholars under the government’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, issued a fatwa on August 25 last year, proclaiming that “participation in foreign wars is not a religious obligation for all adult Muslims,” the report added.

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