Sean Paul jihadi death threat: Jamaican singer told to stay away from Maldives New Year's Eve concert

Online death threat bears logo of Syria-linked extremist group

Andrew Buncombe@AndrewBuncombe
Friday 26 December 2014 15:21
Jamaican singer Sean Paul
Jamaican singer Sean Paul

A death threat has been posted online warning Sean Paul, the Jamaican singer and reggae star, that he should not perform at a New Year’s Eve concert in the Maldives. The video message carries the logo of a group which claims to consist of Maldivian jihadis with links to Syria.

“Sean Paul, if you visit the Maldives, the world will see your burned and blood-drenched dead body,” say cards held by a cloaked figure in the video posted on Youtube late on Wednesday night. “Sean Paul, who is joining from abroad in the celebration of year-end 2014…is a major disbeliever.”

A report in the Minivan News said that the invitation to 41-year-old Paul, whose full name is Sean Paul Ryan Francis Henriques, had been made by the government’s tourism department. The singer, also known for his Dance Hall style, is due to perform at a free concert in Male, the capital.

But the newspaper said that in the aftermath of the threat, the government had reacted by delivering a seemingly mixed message. While Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb said on social media that the concert would go ahead as planned, the Islamic Affairs Mininster, Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, said that both the death threat and Paul’s appearance were unacceptable.

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean nation made up of more than 1,000 atolls, is best known in the West as a location for luxury holidays and honeymoon getaways. Tourism accounts for at least 30 per cent of GDP and in 2013 there were 82,690 visitors from the UK. China and other parts of east Asia account for an increasing number of visitors.

But in recent years there has been growing concern about growing conservatism in the Muslim nation and, in particular, of the rise of Wahhabi-influenced extremism.

The report in Minivan News says the video bears the logo of the Bilad Al Sham Media (BASM) group, an organisation which claims to consist of Maldivian jihadis based in Syria and the Maldives. The group has reported the deaths of five Maldivians in the Syrian conflict this year and has gone online to taunt the police’s faltering efforts to locate its members.

“It is for all Muslim to jihad in the name of Allah. Hence disbelievers like Sean Paul, who are like the worst of devil’s advocates, deserve nothing but death,” said the threat.

A Twitter account claiming to belong to BASM denied being behind the threat, writing in a tweet: "We would clearly like to announce that our media have nothing to do with the "Sean Paul death threatening video".

There has been no word yet from Paul or his management about the death threat. His official website still lists the concert on December 31 at Male’s Hendeyru Raahlhu Gandu Surf Point Arena among his upcoming events.

Yesterday’s Youtube message suggested that Maldivian society was being led to destruction through “beautiful painted pictures, songs and entertainment”, decrying what it saw as the celebration of western festivals such as New Year and Valentine’s Day.

The concert is due to feature a number of local artists in a support role. Reports in the Maldivian media have suggested up to 15,000 people were likely to attend the concert.

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