MLM: "The Propagandist from the Maldives: Bilad al-Sham Media’s Abu Ayyub al-Maaldifi"
The Maldivian government has engaged in an effort to restrain radicalized youths from joining jihadists groups in Syria and Iraq. Despite these efforts, the total number of Maldivians fighting in the Syrian civil war has reached 61. According to the island nation’s National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), over 68 people have been intercepted and captured on their way to Syria and Iraq (Raajje News, January 15). This official figure, made public at the beginning of this year, is seen as very modest in comparison to the various local and foreign press reports. These sources estimate the number of Maldivians in Syria to be over 200. Many of these Maldivian fighters have joined the two transnational jihadist rivals—Islamic State (IS) and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the erstwhile Jabhat al-Nusra or al-Nusra Front.
Abu Ayyub used several Twitter handles (@abuayubmuhammad and @abuayubmaldif, now suspended) and Facebook pages to populate the virtual world with al-Qaeda and HTS propaganda. These pages were also used to post tributes to fellow jihadist compatriots aimed at cajoling and coaxing Maldivians to join the group in Syria. He once posted a message on Twitter, supposedly from Idlib, Syria, saying, “by the grace of Allah, we enjoy beautiful scenery and sights; all this is (cost) free. You just need to be a Mujahideen.”
For Complete Article, see, Militant Leadership Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, October 2018.