The Maldives is planning to block websites that spread religious extremist rhetoric online, the defence minister said.
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which is headed by the Defence Ministry, held an impromptu press conference days after the US State Department issued a travel advisory citing the threat of a terror attack in the Maldives.
“We have been noticing some information on websites and open sources that lead to people becoming more radicalised. We are continually working with the Communication Authority to block these websites, because we see this as necessary to do for the good of the Maldivian people,” Defence Minister Adam Shareef said Monday.
He acknowledged that members of terrorist organisations and foreign fighters were communicating with potential recruits.
“Most countries do not have the systems and resources to detect and intercept these communications. Neither do we,” Shareef said.
“We are holding informal meetings through Maldivian Islamic scholars, not direct meetings but more of a behind the scenes effort… we want to set up a mechanism to clarify the right way in religion to these people.”
But he said the threat level had not changed since 2007 and that Washington had not discussed information about any threat with Malé.
“We are still working closely with the US, (to find out) if they received any extraordinary information of a threat, or how that information was verified.”
“So far, we believe that this decision was made based on various conversations on social media by various people with various intentions.”
Shareef advised Maldivians to be “responsible” on social media, saying that exaggeration would have a negative impact on tourism.
“Maldives is very active on social media even though it’s a small place. As such, what’s being said on different software(sic) on social media gets international attention. And most countries take this in a very negative way,” Shareef said.
Nobody from the US embassy in Colombo was available for comment.
Maldives Independent, January 20, 2018