UN sees increase in Maldivian jihadists overseas

A UN report has raised concerns over an increase in fighters leaving the Maldives to join terrorist organisations including al-Qaida and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The expert report to the UN Security Council, obtained by The Associated Press, said the flow of fighters globally “is higher than it has ever been historically”, increasing from a few thousand a decade ago to over 25,000 from more than 100 nations today.

The Maldives police chief Hussein Waheed in January estimated some 50 Maldivians are fighting in foreign wars, but the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party says the figure could be as high as 200.

Waheed’s comments came after reports of at least 13 Maldivians leaving for jihad surfaced in local media in early January. Since then, at least four more have traveled to the Middle East.

Some seven Maldivians are reported to have died in the past year during battle in Syria, according to local media.

Waheed said that police were monitoring the activities of militants and would reveal details of plans to prevent radicalisation at a later date. The MDP has said the government is doing little to counter radicalisation and prevent recruitment of would-be fighters.

The UN report, written by a UN panel monitoring sanctions against Al-Qaida, listed the Maldives, Finland and Trinidad and Tobago as countries from which numbers of fighters were increasing, while the highest number of foreign fighters come from Tunisia, Morocco, France and Russia.

Most fighters travel to Syria and Iraq, to fight primarily for the Islamic State and the Al-Nusra front.