26-year-old Bangladeshi arrested under ISA following investigations into 'terrorism-related activities'
SINGAPORE: A 26-year-old Bangladeshi man has been arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA), following investigations into "terrorism-related activities", said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a press release on Tuesday (Nov 24).
Preliminary investigations by the Internal Security Department showed that Ahmed Faysal was radicalised and harboured the intention to "undertake armed violence in support of his religion", said MHA.
Faysal had been working as a construction worker in Singapore since early 2017, and became radicalised in 2018 after "imbibing online propaganda on ISIS", noted MHA. He was arrested on Nov 2.
"He was attracted to ISIS' goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate in Syria and wanted to travel there to fight alongside ISIS against the Syrian government. He believed that he would be a martyr if he died while doing so," the ministry added.
In mid-2019, Faysal shifted his allegiance to Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), another militant group fighting to establish an Islamic caliphate in Syria.
"He donated funds to a Syria-based organisation on the understanding that his donations would benefit the HTS' cause in Syria," said MHA. "Faysal also actively shared propaganda promoting armed violence on social media accounts created under fictitious names."
Apart from ISIS and HTS, Faysal also expressed support for other terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab. He was also willing to travel to Kashmir to fight against "perceived enemies of Islam", said MHA.
To prepare himself for armed jihad, Faysal watched firearms-related videos online. He also bought folded knives in Singapore, which he claimed he would use for attacks in Bangladesh against Hindus.
ADEPT AT USING SOCIAL MEDIA
In response to CNA queries, an MHA spokesperson said Faysal was proficient in English and adept at using social media.
"He actively disseminated propaganda, in a mix of English and Bengali, which featured the oppression of Muslims overseas and promoted armed violence," the spokesperson said.
Faysal would translate some of the content that he found online from English to Bengali, and repost them on his social media accounts, so as to "encourage other Bangladeshi Muslims" to take part in armed jihad.
He lived in a dormitory and is "not known to have interacted much" with other residents, said the MHA spokesperson.
"Beyond his social media activities, there is no information that Faysal had tried to influence his colleagues, dormitory mates or anyone else in Singapore with his radical views; it appears that none of them were aware of Faysal’s radicalisation," added the spokesperson.
On Tuesday, MHA announced that Singapore’s security agencies have been on a state of heightened alert since early September following terrorist attacks in France and elsewhere. Investigations into the activities of 37 people in Singapore have been carried out as part of that.
While Faysal is part of the 37, MHA said Faysal is not linked to the incidents in France.