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Of 11 radicalised Singapore youths picked up under ISA, 'several' were reported by members of public

In one case, a 19-year-old tried unsuccessfully to recruit people to help carry out his violent plans - but they did not alert the authorities.

Of 11 radicalised Singapore youths picked up under ISA, 'several' were reported by members of public

A photo of a person in handcuffs. (File photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Of 11 youths dealt with under the Internal Security Act (ISA) since 2015, "several" were reported by members of the public to the authorities, said the Internal Security Department on Thursday (Feb 23).

In one case of a 19-year-old detained in April 2015 - the first-known self-radicalised Singaporean with intentions to carry out violent attacks in Singapore - he had tried unsuccessfully to recruit several people to help carry out his plans.

But "they also did not alert the authorities", said ISD. 

“Fortunately, another person who knew the youth noticed the changes in him, and reported him to the authorities, who were then able to investigate and intervene before he could carry out his attacks.”

The department was responding to questions from CNA, after it announced on Tuesday that two Singaporean teenagers had been issued ISA orders for terrorism-related activities.

One of them was a 15-year-old boy and the youngest so far to be dealt with under the security law.

Both were online contacts of 18-year-old Singaporean Muhammad Irfan Danyal bin Mohamad Nor, who was detained under the ISA in December 2022.

The trio became acquainted online through the same extremist channel on social platform Discord.

CNA asked ISD if it had detected the youths' terrorism-related activities through online monitoring; the number of cases which were a result of the public alerting ISD; and whether ISD was working with Discord to take action against the extremist channel.

The agency said it was unable to provide some of the information requested, "as they delve into operationally sensitive matters”.

It said its investigations to date have not surfaced other Singapore-based individuals among the online extremist contacts of the three youths recently dealt with.

Since 2015, a total of 11 Singaporeans aged 20 or below have been self-radicalised online and picked up under the ISA.

They were detected through "a variety of means", said ISD without elaborating.

Two of the youths, for instance, were brought to the attention of authorities by people who concerned about their pro-Islamic State social media posts.

ISD's investigations then confirmed they were radicalised and supported the Islamic State terror group and its violent cause.

Both were 17 years old when issued with ISA orders in 2016 and 2020 respectively.

“Singapore faces a real and persistent terror threat, with self-radicalisation through the Internet and social media being the primary driver of domestic terrorism today,” ISD stressed.

“ISD will continue to work with partners to intensify counter-radicalisation outreach efforts to the community, including to schools and youths, to educate them on the dangers of online radicalisation. 

“The public should also stay vigilant, and be discerning in their consumption of information on social media, to avoid falling prey to the influence of divisive, extremist or violent material online.”

ISD said it takes every report, including those made through its Counter Terrorism Centre hotline, seriously.

When reports are made, checks are done to establish the accuracy of the information provided - while protecting the identity of the informer, said ISD.

It encouraged people to come forward early if they suspect someone may have been radicalised. 

“Family members and friends are best placed to notice changes in behaviour among those around them, and early reporting allows the authorities to intervene early to avert a tragedy,” said ISD.

Members of the public can report suspicious behaviour or activities to the police at 999, or submit information online.

They can also contact ISD’s Counter Terrorism hotline at 1800-2626-473 if they know or suspect that a person is radicalised.

Source: CNA/ga(jo)


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