Maldives, Tourist Haven, Casts Wary Eye on Growing Islamic Radicalism

Brig. Gen. Zakariyya Mansoor, the director general of the National Counter Terrorism Center, a recently formed government office spearheading efforts to increase security preparedness, agreed that it was challenging to identify noninvasive solutions and maintain the tranquil environment expected by tourists.

But he said the country was well prepared to handle terrorist threats, pointing to the national policy on terrorism and the regular staging of simulated attacks at tourist facilities for training purposes.

“There are certain criteria that every resort must meet in terms of safety and security,” General Mansoor said. “Resort owners and resort operators are very cooperative with us.”

Ibrahim Hussain Shihab, a spokesman for the president of the Maldives, Abdulla Yameen, wrote in an email that the government takes all breaches of security, including thefts, seriously, and that security forces are “more than adequately trained.” As such, he said there was no immediate need for security forces at the resorts to carry firearms.

Security forces and government officials say there is currently no evidence of a planned attack in the country. But Mohamed, a former police officer who worked on counterterrorism for the Maldives Police Service and insisted on being identified only by one name because he feared reprisals from the government, urged caution.

He cited a local uproar over the suspension of a Maldivian teacher for wearing a niqab in the classroom, and President Trump’s attempts to place travel restrictions on individuals from six predominately Muslim countries. The former police officer said developments like these could be used as fodder not only to radicalize but also to consolidate support for an attack on Maldivian soil.

Of concern to him, he said, is what will happen when jihadis return to the country if greater security measures are not taken in the tourism industry. Those fighters, he said, hate tourism and do not care if it exists or not.

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