17-year-old secondary school student detained under ISA over support of Islamic State

17-year-old secondary school student detained under ISA over support of Islamic State

MHA building
The Ministry of Home Affairs headquarters in Singapore. (File photo: TODAY)

SINGAPORE: A 17-year-old secondary school student has been detained under the Internal Security Act over his support of Islamic State, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a press release on Monday (Feb 10).

The teenager was first investigated in September 2017 - when he was just 15 years old - after he posted defaced images of President Halimah Yacob on social media, said the ministry.

He also called on Islamic State to behead her for supporting Singapore, which he viewed as an "infidel" state, it said.

The student had been radicalised by a "foreign online contact" that year, who introduced him to pro-Islamic State social media groups.

"Through these groups, he gained access to what he believed was exclusive ISIS (Islamic State) content," said MHA. "In his eyes, ISIS was a powerful group that was fighting for Islam and its use of violence against its opponents was therefore justified."

Since 2017 the ministry has tried to "steer him away from the radical path", said MHA, but nevertheless the teenager remained a staunch supporter of the terrorist group.

He was willing to assist the group in its online propaganda efforts and undertake other activities if called upon to do so, said MHA.

This willingness continued even as Islamic State lost territory and sway.

READ: Baghdadi 'The Ghost': Islamic State chief who oversaw its rise and fall

"Even with the demise of ISIS’s so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq, he still believed in the terrorist group and its violent cause," said MHA. 

However, there are no signs that he had spread his pro-Islamic State views to those around him, it said.

Separately, the ministry also announced the release of a former member of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.

READ: 3 Singaporeans dealt with under ISA for terror-related activities: MHA

Abu Thalha bin Samad was issued with a two-year Order of Detention in 2017, starting in September that year.

The 28-year-old has been released on a Restriction Order following the expiry of his Order of Detention last September.

"He had shown good progress in his rehabilitation and was assessed to no longer pose a security threat requiring preventive detention," said MHA. 

Commenting on the case of the radicalised teenager, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) said it would like to "categorically debunk" the views he held.

"MUIS would like to categorically debunk the views that he was influenced to believe, i.e. that Muslims cannot live in a secular country and take up any roles in government or as the head of state," said the council in a media statement.

"The Singapore Muslim community is a clear example of confident Muslims thriving in our secular and multi-religious context and actively contributing to our public institutions and society as a whole."

The council also emphasised the importance of a "strong religious foundation for our young" and guidance from credible religious teachers.

It also highlighted the importance of a strong support network of family, teachers and friends to whom young people can turn in the face of misguided teachings, and also mentioned the danger of online predators who target "susceptible individuals".

Such predators influence susceptible individuals with "misguided ideologies" and use them for "perverted ends", said the council. This highlights the importance of digital literacy and online safety skills, especially for young people, it added.

Source: CNA/nc(hm)

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