The Maldivian government has expanded its list of terrorist organisations, adding Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an extremist group based in Indonesia, to its official list of terrorist groups. The designation was announced on Monday by the President’s Office under the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015 (ATA).

JAD was earlier marked as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations Security Council on 4 March 2020. Established in Indonesia in 2015, it has become the largest group within the ISIL network operating in the country. Collaborating with approximately 24 extremist organisations in Indonesia, JAD has gained notoriety for supplying weapons to the IS branch in Iraq and recruiting individuals for IS activities. The group has been implicated in acts of terrorism across various parts of Indonesia.

In September 2019, the Maldives designated 17 terrorist organisations under the ATA, criminalising support to, or participation in, such groups. The revised list this time also included Syria as a whole as a war zone, reaffirming a designation made since 31 October 2019.

The ATA outlines a range of prohibited activities, which include support to groups designated as terrorist organisations, document-sharing, membership, and travel to war zones for participation in conflict abroad.

In October 2019, the Maldivian government passed an amendment strengthening the Anti-Terrorism Act. The revised act empowers the Maldives Police Service (MPS) to make warrantless arrests for activities defined as terrorism. The law criminalises support to “extremist” ideologies, travelling to war zones without government approval, and assisting individuals who are attempting to join militant groups.

The amendment further necessitates the establishment of a rehabilitation and reintegration centre for returning Maldivian foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), with separate facilities for women and children who are deemed victims and did not engage in acts of terrorism. A new Counter-Terrorism (CT) risk assessment committee has been established to assess the threat level of repatriated individuals.

The amendment also gives Parliament oversight authority through a monitoring mechanism to avert politically motivated prosecutions, such as those witnessed in 2018 and earlier.

The President’s Office states that these decisions are taken in consultation with the National Security Council. The President also has the authority to update the list of designated terrorist groups and war zones as necessary.