A couple from Fuvahmulah are reported to be the latest Maldivians to have left the country in order to wage jihad in Syria.
Local media has reported that Ahmed Munsih and his wife Suma Ali told family last night that they were already in Syria and that they would not be returning.
The news follows reports last week that four members of the same family, from Raa Atoll Meedhoo, had travelled to ISIS held territory – currently comprising large swathes of Syria and Iraq.
Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed told Haveeru that efforts were underway to discourage those wishing to travel for jihad.
In September, an online jihadist group Bilad Al Sham Media – believed to be based in Syria and the Maldives – claimed that a total of four Maldivian men had now been killed while fighting in the Syrian civil war.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed has claimed that up to 200 Maldivians are on jihad, telling international media that ex-security servicemen were often among those travelling to fight abroad.
“Radical Islam is getting very, very strong in the Maldives. Their strength in the military and in the police is very significant,” the opposition leader told the UK’s Independent newspaper last month.
On September 5, a protest march took took place in Malé with participants bearing the Islamic State’s flag calling for the implementation of Islamic Shariah in the Maldives.
‘We want the laws of the Quran, not the green book [Maldivian constitution]‘, ‘Islam will eradicate secularism’, ‘No democracy, we want just Islam’, and ‘Shariah will dominate the world’, read some of the placards carried by protesters.
The UK government last week said it was aware of ISIS sympathisers in the Maldives, and that it will continue to “engage” with the government regarding religious moderation.
In late August, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon condemned “the crimes committed against innocent civilians by the organisation which identifies itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”
Dunya’s remarks followed Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed’s declaration that the ISIS would not be allowed to operate in the Maldives.
“ISIS is an extremist group. No space will be given for their ideology and activities in the Maldives,” Shaheem tweeted on August 24.
Intelligence service provider ‘The Soufan Group’ has estimated that as many as 12,000 fighters from at least 81 countries have joined civil war in Syria