Maldivian jihadist fighter dies in Syria

A Maldivian jihadist fighter has died in Syria, Bilad al Sham Media (BASM) has revealed on social media, in what would be the fifth Maldivian casualty in the ongoing civil war.

“Another great Maldivian brother martyred. May Allah accept him. Ameen,” Bilad al Sham tweeted last night.

The jihadist media group – which describes itself as “Maldivians in Syria” – identified the deceased as Abu Fulan Rahimullah, which was his assumed name or alias.

“He was a great companion and a pious brother who feared Allah, who made hijrah for the sake of Allah and strove hard in the cause of Allah, trying his utmost to be among the martyrs, especially after the martyrdom of his close companions Abu Turab, Abu Nuh, Abu Dujanah, and Abu Ibrahim,” reads a message posted by the media group.

BASM revealed the death of Abu Dujanah and Abu Ibrahim in September while Abu Nuh and Abu Turab were killed in May.

Local media identified Abu Dujana as Yameen Naeem of Georgia in the Maafannu ward of the capital Malé, who reportedly travelled to Syria after studying in Egypt.

Abu Fulan was “one of the students of Abu Dujanah,” BASM said.

“Amazingly he was seen in the most intense hours of the battle by hearting [sic] the lessons of the usoolul thalaatha,” the post continued.

“His wife had seen a dream before his martyrdom and he was among the slaves who are close to Allah. And she had narrated that she smelled an extraordinary beautiful smell after his martyrdom while she was in sujood praying Fajr Salah.”

The post concluded by stating that “cowardice was not his way and he could not accept defeat as an exchange for death.”

Last week, Sri Lankan police detained three Maldivians who were allegedly preparing to travel to Syria through Turkey.

The three – two men aged 23 and 25 and a woman aged 18 – were from the island of Madduvari in Raa atoll and have since been released from custody upon being brought back to the Maldives.

The incident follows reports of a couple from Fuvahmulah and a family of four from Meedhoo in Raa atoll traveling to militant organisation Islamic State-held (IS) territories to join the fighting in Syria and Iraq.

A UN report obtained by the UK’s Guardian newspaper earlier this month observed that foreign jihadists were now travelling to Syria and Iraq on “an unprecedented scale”.

The report mentioned the Maldives as one of the “unlikely” places from which IS supporters have emerged.

Islamic State

Meanwhile, a protest march took place in the capital, Malé, in September, with around 200 participants bearing the IS flag and calling for the implementation of Islamic Shariah in the Maldives.

In late August, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon issued a press statement condemning “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 Minister of Islamic Affairs 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.

Shaheem had also appealed for Maldivians to refrain from participating in foreign wars.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), however, promptly put out a statement questioning Shaheem’s sincerity, suggesting that the words had not been backed up with concrete action by the government.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has claimed that up to 200 Maldivians are on jihad, alleging that a vast majority of them are ex-military – a claim vehemently denied by the security services.

“Radical Islam is getting very very strong in the Maldives, their strength in the military and in the police is very significant. They have people in strategic positions within both,” Nasheed said in an interview with UK’s Independent newspaper.

The opposition leader suggested that President Abdulla Yameen wanted to consolidate power before dealing with the threat of religious extremism.

“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.”