Allegations of links between Maldivian security services and foreign terrorist organisation are false and intended to bring disrepute to the police and military, insists Commissioner of Police (CP) Hussain Waheed.
“The commissioner of police said no one who wishes well or wants a good future for the country would speak ill of the public and talk either in the Maldives or abroad in a manner that could render the country’s sound institutions powerless,” reads a news item published on the police website yesterday.
The CP argued such claims would not bring any benefit to the country, but instead harm national interest, adversely affect the economy, and incite unrest and strife among the public.
Allegations that damage national interest and threaten national security would be investigated, Waheed warned, and “necessary action would be taken.”
Waheed’s remarks follow former President Mohamed Nasheed claiming that the vast majority of Maldivians fighting in Syria and Iraq were ex-military.
In an interview with The Independent newspaper in the UK last month, the opposition leader warned that radical Islam was growing stronger in the Maldives.
“Their strength in the military and in the police is very significant. They have people in strategic positions within both,” he alleged.
Waheed meanwhile noted that police and army officers had sworn an oath to protect Maldivian sovereignty and ensure the safety and security of citizens.
“Therefore, neither the police institution nor the defence forces would do anything that could threaten national interest and cause harm to the people,” police said, adding that such allegations against the security services was “unacceptable”.
Following the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s claim in May that extremist ideologies were prevalent in the security services, the defence ministry dismissed the allegations as both “baseless and untrue” and intended to “discredit and disparage” the military.
The Maldives Police Service (MPS) meanwhile issued a press release on September 18 condemning Nasheed’s allegations in the Independent.
While police estimated that about 24 persons with links to militant jihadist organisations might be active in the Maldives, MPS insisted that none of them were police officers.
“And the police leadership has always been working to ensure that such people are not formed within the police,” the statement read.
As such allegations from a former president could incite fear among the public and damage the economy, police urged all parties to refrain from making false statements “to gain the public’s support, achieve political purposes, or win approval from foreign nations”.
In his interview, Nasheed blamed an influx of Saudi Arabian funds for the conservative turn of Maldivian society in recent years and suggested that President Abdulla Yameen might tacitly encourage radicalism.
“President Yameen feels he can deal with the Islamist threat later but first he wants to consolidate power,” Nasheed explained.
“He has the Islamists with him and he can’t do away with them. He would deny that but I don’t see the government taking any measures against the Isis flag being displayed on the street and all the indoctrination going on. They have allowed the military to grow beards.”
“They are very short-sighted. Their thinking is that Islam has a lot of support and you can whip up more [political] support with religion.”
Nasheed warned that the government’s position was untenable.
“If you look at how at how Mosul fell – the top brass ran away because Isis had already infiltrated the rank and file,” Nasheed said.
“I have a feeling that our police and military are already taken. Eventually the Islamists will create havoc in the Maldives. I have no doubt about it.”
Last week, Nasheed suggested that radicalised gangs were behind the recent “atrocities” in the capital, noting that extremist religious indoctrination of youth was a relatively recent phenomenon in the Maldives.
The opposition leader claimed that many young men from criminal gangs were seen in a protest march held in Malé on September 5 with participants bearing the militant organisation Islamic State (IS) flag and calling for the implementation of Islamic Sharia.
Of the approximately 150 participants, Nasheed claimed most were “active in gangs.”
“So youth in gangs are turning to ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] ideology. That activities of ISIS are happening in the Maldives is becoming very clear to us. And while this is happening, the government is unable to stop gang activities,” he said.