SINGAPORE: Eight radicalised male Bangladeshi nationals were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in April this year, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday (May 3).
Among the eight, Rahman Mizanur was an S-Pass holder while the other seven were Work Permit holders, and were all employed in the local construction and marine industries, the press release said.
The eight men are:
- Rahman Mizanur, 31
- Mamun Leakot Ali, 29
- Sohag lbrahim, 27
- Miah Rubel, 26
- Zzaman Daulat, 34
- Islam Shariful, 27
- Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul lslam Sowdagar, 30
- Sohel Hawlader lsmail Hawlader, 29
PLANS ON OVERTHROWING BANGLADESHI GOVERNMENT
They were members of a secret group set up by Rahman (pictured below) in March this year called Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB). The members had intended to join ISIS as foreign fighters, but as they felt it would be difficult for them to travel to Syria, focused their plans instead on returning home to overthrow the government through the use of force.
Their aim was to establish an Islamic state in Bangladesh and bring it under ISIS' self-declared caliphate, MHA said.
Investigations showed that the group had identified several possible attack targets in Bangladesh. In a document titled "We Need for Jihad Fight" recovered from Rahman, there was a list of Bangladeshi government and military officials who could be targeted for attack, the ministry said.
The founder of the group also possessed documents on weapons and bomb making, as well as significant amount of ISIS and Al Qaeda radical material, which he used to recruit ISB members in Singapore from January this year, it added.
The members had also planned to recruit other Bangladeshi nationals working here to grow their group, and had raised funds to buy firearms to carry out their planned terror attacks in Bangladesh. MHA said the money has since been seized.
A SECURITY CONCERN
The group posed a security concern to Singapore because of its support for ISIS and its readiness to use violence overseas. The detained ISB members are still under investigation for their activities in Singapore, the ministry said.
Rahman Mizanur, 31, had founded Islamic State in Bangladesh in March this year. (Photo: MHA)
Rahman, for one, has said he would carry out an attack any where if he was instructed by ISIS, though there are no specific indications that Singapore had been selected as a target. Several of the detained may also be liable for prosecution for terrorism financing, it added.
Besides the eight detained, another five Bangladeshi workers here were also investigated under the ISA. While investigations showed they were not involved with ISB, they had "possessed and/or proliferated jihadi-related materials or supported the use of armed violence in pursuit of a religious cause".
They have been repatriated to Bangladesh, MHA said.
"The Singapore Government takes a very serious view of any form of support for terrorism. Any person, foreigner or otherwise, who engages in any activity that is inimical to Singapore's national security and racial and religious harmony will be fìrmly dealt with under the law," the ministry said.
"ln this connection, foreigners should not import their own domestic political agenda into Singapore and carry out activities here in pursuit of such an agenda."
This is not the first time Bangladeshi nationals have been arrested for terror-related activities. In January, 27 men were reported to have been arrested under the ISA, and most of them had worked in Singapore for between two and seven years.
ARREST SHOWS ISIS, TERRORIST IDEOLOGY A SERIOUS THREAT: MUIS
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) on Monday said the recent arrests of Bangladeshi workers show that ISIS and its terrorist ideology continue to pose a serious threat.
Muis added that despite these arrests, its experience with the Bangladeshi workers has been "positive" so far. "Many Bangladeshi workers volunteer their time and effort at our mosques together with other local volunteers," it said. "For example, during Ramadan, they help to serve food and would break fast together with other jemaah (congregants)."
The council also said that mosques in Singapore will continue to welcome Muslims from all backgrounds and nationalities to its religious programmes and classes conducted by recognised religious teachers.
Official Eid sermons prepared by Muis will also be translated into languages such as English, Tamil and Bengali, to help congregants appreciate a progressive and contextual understanding of Islam in Singapore, it added.
According to Muis, it is partnering with the Singapore Bangladesh Society to explore further initiatives to support Bangladeshi workers in their socio-religious life and to integrate them into the local community.
"Muis reiterates its call for the Singapore Muslim community to remain vigilant and not let any teachings that promote violence and extremism take root in our society," it said.
MAJORITY OF MIGRANT WORKERS 'PEACE-LOVING, LAW-ABIDING': MWC
Singapore's Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) also touched on the arrests, saying that the majority of migrant workers working here in Singapore - regardless of nationality - are "peace-loving and law-abiding".
Said MWC: "It would therefore be incorrect for us to allow the actions of an exceptionally small group of individuals to tarnish the good reputation of all other honest and hardworking migrant workers.
"We urge everyone - local or migrant - to rally together to ensure that the safety and security of everyone living here continues to be our highest priority."
MWC added that it continues to be committed to its mission to help migrant workers integrate better into society and to further strengthen the social compact to withstand setbacks such as the present case.
"On the ground, MWC will continue to engage and grow our grassroots networks at key congregation, recreation and residential spaces of the migrant workers, advising them to be vigilant against such threats to our peace and security," it said.
MWC also said it will encourage employers to orientate all new workers on the value placed on peace and security, and the importance of social cohesion here in Singapore.