SINGAPORE: A 33-year-old Malaysian was arrested in July last year under the Internal Security Act (ISA) after investigations revealed that he was supporting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.
Mohd Firdaus Kamal Intdzam, who was working as a cleaner in Singapore, had his work pass cancelled and was repatriated to Malaysia after the Internal Security Department (ISD) had completed its investigations against him, the department said in a news release on Tuesday (Feb 9).
ISD had worked closely with the Malaysian Special Branch (MSB) on the investigations and subsequently handed Firdaus over to the branch in August 2020.
A restriction order was also issued to his Singaporean wife, Ruqayyah Ramli, after it was found that she had been radicalised by her husband.
ISD said Firdaus was radicalised after he encountered ISIS propaganda on the Internet while seeking to “deepen his religious knowledge” in 2016.
“Through sustained exposure to pro-ISIS materials, Firdaus was convinced by early 2018 that ISIS was fighting for Islam and that its use of violence to create an Islamic caliphate was justified,” the department said.
“He also regarded ISIS’ self-declared Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (deceased) as the true Islamic ruler. Even with the demise of ISIS’ so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq, Firdaus remained a fervent supporter of ISIS.”
In addition, he “actively posted materials promoting the group and armed jihad on his social media accounts”, as well as made an ISIS flag in March 2020, which he “hung at home to show his loyalty towards the group”.
He also believed that “armed jihad was compulsory for all able-bodied Muslim men”, ISD added.
“He harboured the intention to travel to Syria with his wife to fight alongside ISIS. He aspired to die as a martyr in the battlefield so as to receive divine rewards. He was also willing to carry out attacks against countries which he deemed to be oppressing Muslims or which he perceived to be munafiq (hypocrite) for aligning themselves with the West.”
There was no indication that he had made specific attack plans or intended to mount any acts of violence in Singapore, investigations showed.
Ruqayyah, a 34-year-old housewife and freelance religious teacher, was also issued a restriction order under the ISA for two years in August last year after it was found that she had been radicalised by her husband.
“Following their marriage in December 2018, Firdaus started to influence Ruqayyah with his pro-ISIS views,” ISD said.
“While Ruqayyah initially had doubts, over time, she began to believe that ISIS’ use of violence against perceived oppressors of Islam, including non-Muslims and Shi’ites, was justified.”
She supported his intentions to join ISIS and take up arms in Syria, ISD added.
“She was willing to accompany him to Syria and intended to bring her two children along. She believed that her role in the conflict zone would be to take care of the family (through cooking and housework), and to assist other wounded ISIS fighters,” the department said.
Investigations revealed no indication that she had attempted to spread her pro-ISIS views to others.
Her Asatizah Recognition Scheme accreditation, which was obtained in September 2017, was also suspended. As part of her restriction order conditions, she is not allowed to conduct religious classes.
She is also undergoing religious counselling to “steer her away from her radical path”, said ISD.
In a statement on Monday, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) said it was "alarming" that Ruqayyah was a part-time freelance religious teacher.
MUIS confirmed that her religious teacher accreditation has been suspended since Oct 16 last year "once the Ministry of Home Affairs alerted the Asatizah Recognition Board".
"The case ... is a grim reminder that the influence of extremism is still present and dangerous today, especially from online sources," said MUIS.
"MUIS has always maintained that Islam and the Singapore Muslim community firmly rejects and condemn acts of violence in the name of religion," it added.
"We urge family members, friends, students and colleagues to report any individual espousing violent or extremist ideologies to the relevant authorities quickly for timely intervention."