A video purporting to show jihad training has been released by the media wing of Maldivian fighters in Syria.
The video, from Bilad Al Sham Media, appears to be propaganda material aimed at attracting recruits. It shows men in camouflage performing drills, handling weapons and raiding buildings.
Last week Defence Minister Adam Shareef said the number of Maldivians going to Syria was on the rise, putting the number at 61 when previously he had said it was 49.
The Maldives Independent has been unable to verify the authenticity of the video, which also features a man reciting a Quranic verse and giving its Dhivehi translation.
“Prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah,” he says.
Social media accounts circulated a teaser poster announcing the new video ahead of its release. The poster bears the words “Prepare and Come Out” in Dhivehi, above a photo of masked men holding guns.
In 2016, Bilad Al Sham released a video as a “small warning” to the Maldivian government and leaders.
Shareef said the National Counter-terrorism Center (NCTC) was working on blocking extremist websites and that it was also holding informal meetings with radicalised groups to educate them about “the right way in religion.”
The NCTC, which was established in 2016 to combat extremism and radicalisation, launched its website and hotline last April.
But the hotline number given on the website – 1516 – has been unreachable since last year. When queried by the Maldives Independent, a staff member at the NCTC admitted the number was incorrect. The correct number for the hotline is 1615.
The NCTC’s director general was unavailable for comment about the video at the time of going to press.
Photo: Bilad Al Sham Media