Fourth Maldivian man ‘on his way to join Syrian civil war’ arrested

Fourth Maldivian man ‘on his way to join Syrian civil war’ arrested
February 08 16:03 2017

A Maldivian man who attempted to cross into Syria to join the civil war there has been arrested and brought back to the Maldives, the police have said.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, the police said the man was “on his way to join Syrian civil war.”

The police declined to disclose the man’s identity, date of arrest and date of extradition.

“In order to reduce the number of such cases, we are expanding cooperation with international actors and are working on increasing the police’s capacity,” the police said in a tweet.

Media reports indicate that this is the fourth Maldivian arrested on suspicion of attempting to cross into Syria. Three others are currently on trial on terrorism charges and face a jail term of up to 20 years.

Two others who allegedly fought with militant groups in Pakistan were also recently brought to trial.

The parliament in 2015 approved a law criminalising participation in foreign wars following allegations that President Abdulla Yameen’s administration was ignoring the threat posed by jihadi recruitment.

The opposition claims as many as 250 Maldivians are fighting in Syria and Iraq – the highest per capita in the region. But the government says the opposition has been inflating the figure to lobby international support for its cause, offering various lower estimates and decrying damage to the economy due to “exaggerated” claims.

At least six Maldivians fighting with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front in Syria are believed to have been killed in battle.

In August, the parliament approved the first state policy on combating terrorism and violent extremism, which broadly outlined plans to take “a central and active role” internationally, strengthen national security, and conduct de-radicalisation and rehabilitation programmes.

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