SINGAPORE: Two Singaporeans - a man and a woman - have been arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for terror-related activities, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday (Sep 7).
Imran Kassim, 34, was issued a Detention Order in July for intending to undertake armed violence overseas, while Shakirah Begam Abdul Wahab, 23, was issued a Restriction Order in the same month for initiating and maintaining contact with foreign terrorist fighters.
In a news release, MHA said Imran, a managing director of a logistics company, was radicalised by the propaganda of Islamic State (IS).
He had also admitted that he was prepared to attack Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel deployed in the global coalition to fight IS, or hold them hostages to demand ransom from the Singapore Government and use the money to boost the militant group's finances.
According to MHA, Imran had tried to join IS in Syria on at least two occasions.
In February 2014, he travelled to Syria to oversee the delivery of humanitarian aid to a refugee camp that was arranged by the logistics company he worked for. He tried to slip away from his hosts at the refugee camp but was unsuccessful.
In July that year, he also took a pledge of allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In March 2015, Imran contacted a pro-IS foreign contact to facilitate his entry into Syria to join the militant group but did not receive any reply.
MHA said Imran had not only been actively galvanising support for IS online - using several social media accounts with different personas to post pro-IS materials - he also tried, unsuccessfully, to influence his friends with radical views.
"His radical and pro-militant views attracted the attention of people close to him, who then reported him to the authorities," said the ministry.
It added that apart from wanting to join IS in Syria, Imran harboured intentions since May this year to join pro-IS groups that have laid siege to Marawi City in the southern Philippines.
Dr Kumar Ramakrishna, Head of Policy Studies and Coordinator of National Security Studies Programme at S Rajaratnam School of International Studies said the incident highlighted that people vulnerable to extremist ideology should not volunteer for humanitarian aid missions in Syria.
“Better screening by the relevant agencies, civil societies, charities and companies that are engaged in such humanitarian operations abroad is called for," he said.
"Because as we have seen, there are many other cases where people went there and eventually they got embroiled in the conflict and got radicalised.”
FEMALE SUSPECT ENJOYED ATTENTION OF IS FIGHTERS: MHA
As for the other suspect Shakirah, MHA said she had "actively initiated" online contact with IS foreign fighters operating in the conflict zone.
"She came across social media details of a foreign terrorist fighter and decided to initiate contact with him. Over time, she expanded her online contacts to several other foreign fighters," said MHA.
It added that Shakirah, an administrative assistant, did so mainly because she enjoyed their attention, and not because she had been deeply radicalised by the violent propaganda of IS.
MHA said that although the 23-year-old woman stopped contacting IS foreign fighters in early 2016, she continued to "keep herself apprised" of developments in Syria.
Because she has a "propensity to engage in risky behaviour" which makes her vulnerable to influence and recruitment by terrorists, MHA said Shakirah was placed on Restriction Order to prevent her from resuming her contacts, and to allow her to undergo counselling and rehabilitation.
Dr Kumar added that Shakirah's case shows it is not just men who are vulnerable to being influenced by militant recruiters.
“IS doesn’t just want to attract fighters, they want to attract young women as well because they are trying to create a new society. So they need families to go, not just males but females as well.”
BUILD RESILIENCE AGAINST EXTREMIST DOCTRINES: YAACOB IBRAHIM
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said it was "always disheartening" to hear news of Singaporeans being radicalised.
Dr Yaacob, who is also the Minister for Communications and Information, wrote in a Facebook post: "Those close to Imran had come forward to seek help and guidance when he tried to influence them. This is the right thing to do."
Authorities and the community must continue to build the community’s resilience against the "allure of foreign extremist doctrines or misguided motivations for participating in a foreign conflict", he added.
2 SINGAPOREANS RELEASED FROM ISA DETENTION
The ministry also announced that two Singaporeans have been released from detention when their Detention Orders expired in August.
Amiruddin Sawir, 54, and Muhammad Harith Jailani, 20, had been detained in August 2015 under the ISA.
Amiruddin was found to have voluntarily taken up arms and participated in the sectarian conflict in Yemen, while Harith was detained after being radicalised by online IS propaganda. He had also planned to carry out armed jihad for IS in Syria.
"While in detention, Amiruddin and Harith have been cooperative and shown good progress in their rehabilitation. As such, they were assessed to no longer pose a security threat that required preventive detention," said MHA, adding that they have been issued with Restriction Orders instead.
Meanwhile, the Restriction Order against Singaporean Jemaah Islamiyah member Samad Subari was allowed to lapse in July.
Samad, 60, has been cooperative and responsive to rehabilitation efforts and no longer requires supervision under the Restriction Order regime, said MHA.