US sanctions 20 in Maldives over Islamic State links

The United States has sanctioned 20 citizens of the Maldives for their ties to the Islamic State group, including one man accused of trying to assassinate former president Mohamed Nasheed.

The US Department of Treasury said Abdulla Ali Manik — currently in custody over the unsuccessful 2021 attack — had several links to terror plots in the upmarket tourist hotspot

New sanctions unveiled Monday also identified Manik as an associate of known IS recruiter Mohamad Ameen, who was himself sanctioned by the US in 2019.

Ameen is known to have sent dozens of Maldivians to fight in Syria and was the main suspect in a 2007 bomb attack at a public park that wounded 12 Chinese tourists.

The US statement said 29 companies, many linked to the lucrative tourism industry in the archipelago, were also sanctioned over their links to IS operatives.

Any assets of the sanctioned individuals or companies in the US could be frozen and US citizens are barred from having any business dealings with them.

The sanctions aim to “prevent and disrupt financial and other support for terrorist attacks globally”, US Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said in a statement.

Maldives officials told AFP that most of those designated by the US were already under close scrutiny by local authorities.

Radicalisation has been a major concern for security forces in the Maldives.

The government has cracked down on extremism and foreign preachers are banned from entering the country.

 

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