Maldives has the highest rate of foreign fighters, per capita, says Director General of the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC), Brigadier Zakariyya Mansoor.
In an interview with RaajjeMV, Mansoor raised concerns while providing information regarding the operation being conducted by NCTC.
Relevant authorities earlier revealed that at least 170 Maldivians are currently active in foreign conflicts, most of them have joined the Syrian conflict, including children.
In comparison to the island nation’s population, this is a high percentage, said Mansoor, who stressed that the issue has escalated to the point where Maldives can be deemed to have the highest rate of foreign fighters.
He added that work is currently underway, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to bring back the Maldivians stranded in Syrian camps, including widowed women and children.
Authorities are currently working to identify the Maldivians in Syria and facing a lot of challenges in doing so.
The ongoing 19th tenure of the People’s Majlis has brought a number of amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act. Some of the amendments mandate foreign fighters who return to the island nation to undergo a rehabilitation programme, isolated from the general public.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is tasked with the responsibility to conduct the programme. The ministry is currently working to allocate a location to conduct the rehabilitation exercise.
Mansoor also urged the general public to work together to eliminate the menace of terrorism, adding that the country needs to adopt a prevention plan to ensure terrorist activities are kept at bay.
NCTC is currently working against the threats of terrorism and extremism and their efforts have been amplified due to the amendments brought to the Anti-Terrorism Act, said Mansoor.
Earlier, the Commissioner of Police had stressed that there are over 1,400 individuals in the island nation that would not hold back in attacking someone. The Maldives Police Service (MPS) conducts frequent operations across the island nation to identify groups affiliated with terrorist organizations and spread extremism.
Very recently, the authorities arrested a 34-year-old Maldivian foreign fighter, after he returned from Syria. The man has since been remanded for a week as investigations proceed.