Self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed has repeatedly claimed the existence of a state within a state of religious extremists in the Maldives, weakening the government and institutions while also recruiting local extremists to join foreign conflicts.
Defence minister Adam Shareef Umar, who had previously downplayed the threat of domestic terrorism, has also revealed that the number of locals fighting in foreign conflicts across the world had risen from 49 to 61.
While various other sources put the number much higher, the minister said authorities had managed to stop 68 people, which included women and children, from leaving the country to join extremist groups.
Nasheed has alleged that the ‘deep state’ was responsible for sending locals to join terrorist groups in other countries as well as keeping President Abdulla Yameen in power.
The United States government’s bureau of consular affairs has recently released a travel advisory on the Maldives, asking travelers to be cautious of terrorism in the country.
Last year, a Maldivian man was reportedly arrested on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in collaboration with the Islamic State terrorist group.
Four men were also arrested in late April in connection with an alleged bomb plot.
The arrests led to the United Kingdom to warn its travelers that terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Maldives.
President Abdulla Yameen has dismissed demands from the opposition to share terror-related information with the public, saying it was an attempt to bring a bad label to the Maldives.
Is there a state within a state, or are the local extremists acting on their own volition? Despite Nasheed’s confidence over the reality of a hidden and ‘deep state’ influencing the government, he is the only politician to even make such a claim.
It is likely that the increasing number of Maldivian terrorists is part of a global trend in which people are radicalized after being exposed to extremist literature online or immersing themselves with radicalized groups.
Since Nasheed himself has not provided any evidence for a so-called deep state, it is easy to conclude that no such thing exists.