19 Sep 2002

Singapore Government Press Statement on Further Arrests under the Internal Security Act - 19 September 2002

​Following the arrest and detention of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) (Islamic group) members in Dec 2001 under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for terrorism-related activities, the Internal Security Department (ISD) continued its investigations into the JI group. The investigations have led to the arrest of another 21 persons, mostly JI members, on 16 Aug 2002. The persons arrested, all Singaporeans, are:

a. Ab Wahab bin Ahmad, 42, delivery man
b. Syed Ibrahim, 30, despatch clerk
c. Simon bin Sabtu, 38, canteen operator assistant/proprietor
d. Mohamed Noor bin Sulaimi, 32, project co-ordinator
e. Munain bin Turru, 41, driver
f. Naharudin bin Sabtu, 33, part-time trainer
g. Sanin bin Riffin, 40, driver
h. Nordin bin Parman, 39, taxi-driver
i. Mohd Jauhari bin Abdullah, 37, assistant engineer
j. Salim bin Marwan, 31, butcher
k. Mahfuh bin Haji Halimi, 40, manager
l. Azman bin Jalani, 39, unemployed
m. Abdul Majid s/o Niaz Mohamed, 40, driver
n. Said bin Ismail, 45, fitter
o. Faiz Abdullah Ashiblie, 37, unemployed
p. Zulkifli bin Mohamed Jaffar, 42, used car salesman
q. Habibullah s/o Hameed, 45, part-time foot reflexologist and religious teacher
r. Husin bin Ab Aziz, 52, businessman
s. Fauzi bin Abu Bakar Bafana, 37, technical officer
t. Mohammad Hisham bin Hairi, 34, transport worker
u. Sajahan bin Abdul Rahman, 54, businessman


2. 19 of them were established to be or have been members of the JI. They belonged to the same clandestine JI organisation as that uncovered by the ISD in Dec 2001, and most of them were in fact followers of JI leaders like Ibrahim B Haji Maidin and Mohd Khalim bin Jaffar who were earlier detained in Jan 2002. [The remaining 2 who were arrested were not JI members but had links to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). One of them was deeply involved with the MILF.] All those arrested except Fauzi bin Abu Bakar Bafana (Fauzi), Mohamad Hisham bin Hairi (Hisham) and Sajahan bin Abdul Rahman (Sajahan) have been served with Orders of Detention for 2 years under Sec 8(1)(a) of the Internal Security Act on 14 Sept 2002.

3. Fauzi, Hisham and Sajahan, who were not detained under the ISA, have been served with Restriction Orders under Section 8(1)(b) of the ISA. The Restriction Orders include conditions which prohibit them from having any contact with any militant organisation and from travelling overseas without prior approval of Director ISD. Fauzi and Hisham were JI members; Sajahan was not a JI member but had visited the MILF training camp in 1999. They did not participate in terrorism-related activities.

JI's Strategy

4. Around 1999/2000, the JI stepped up its militant orientation. This was reflected in an increased number of reconnaissances and surveys of potential targets. It was also seen in greater efforts to recruit more JI members into the operations cells and prepare them for military training abroad. This change in orientation was initiated by regional JI leader Hambali(see footnote 1) who reportedly wanted the JI to convert all its cells (ie dakwah or missionary work, etc.) into operations cells. The JI planned to send as many men as possible for training abroad in Afghanistan or Mindanao. Other programmes which were not focused on these immediate objectives were dropped ( see footnote 2 ).

[ Footnote 1: Hambali @ Nurjaman @ Riduan Isamuddin is an Indonesian JI leader who was in charge of the JI in Malaysia and Singapore. He is believed to have been linked directly to Osama bin Laden's key lieutenant, the late Abu Hafs and to have been at some point, absorbed into the Al-Qaeda organisation.

Footnote 2 : For instance, the JI had created a unit called Tarbiyah Rasmiyah (education) that ran Quran-reading classes especially for children and youths. They also organised children camps open to both JI and non-JI members. The aim was to covertly talent-spot and recruit future JI members from among the participants and their families. ]

5. Hambali's strategy was to prepare the JI in Malaysia and Singapore operationally to mount a series of terrorist incidents at the right time. Targets in Singapore would include the water pipelines and MINDEF. The aim was to create a situation in Malaysia and Singapore conducive to overthrowing the Malaysian Government and making Malaysia an Islamic State. The attacks on key Singapore installations would be portrayed as acts of aggression by the Malaysian Government, thereby generating animosity and distrust between Malaysia and Singapore. Hambali aimed to stir up ethnic strife by playing up a "Chinese Singapore" threatening Malays/Muslims in Malaysia; he hoped that this would create a situation which would make Muslims respond to calls for jihad (militant jihad), and turn Malaysia and Singapore into another "Ambon", where religious clashes have broken out between Christians and Muslims since Jan 99, resulting in many deaths and injuries.

6. In this plan, Hambali was assisted by a small group of Malaysian JI members based in Johor. This group met with Singapore JI leaders including Ibrahim Maidin (Ibrahim was detained in Jan 2002) on at least 5 occasions between Dec 2000 and Jul 2001. The leadership core working directly with Hambali resided in the Malaysian JI.

7. In 1999, the JI initiated an alliance with other jihad/militant groups in the region, called the Rabitatul Mujahideen. The alliance facilitated co-operation and the sharing of resources among the groups, in terms of training, procurement of arms, financial assistance and terrorist operations. The objective was to unify the Islamic militant groups in the region, with the ultimate goal of realising the Daulah Islamiyah, i.e. an Islamic State comprising Malaysia, Indonesia and Mindanao, following which Singapore and Brunei would eventually be absorbed.

8. The Singapore JI is important to the regional JI organisation as a source of funds. In the early 1990s, many Singapore JI members had to contribute about 2% of their monthly salaries, while in the latter half of the 1990s, the amount was raised to 5% of their monthly salaries. There were others who gave a fixed sum monthly. Apparently, 25% of the funds raised would be given to the Malaysian JI and another 25% to the Indonesian JI. This sum of money would be personally handed over to the Malaysian JI, and the amounts meant for the Indonesian JI would then be forwarded by a Malaysian representative. The funds for Singapore JI were used for various purposes to fund the expenses of the fiahs (cells)( see footnote 3 ) and to assist local JI family members who were in need. JI funds were also used to send local JI members for military training abroad, and to purchase equipment that included walkie-talkies and binoculars.

[ Footnote 3 : "Fiah" refers to a cell within the local JI structure. A "fiah" usually receives directives from the JI "shura" (consultative council) via the "fiah" leader. A local JI group will typically have several "fiahs", each with a specified function, eg "dakwah" (missionary work), fund-raising and operations. Each "fiah" usually comprises an average of 4 JI members, including the leader. The composition of the "fiah" is often fluid and members may be switched between "fiahs" or undertake jobs in more than one "fiah" at the same time. Around 1999/2000, there appeared to have been a reorganisation of resources at the direction of the Indonesian JI leadership so that more JI members were directed to join the operations "fiahs". In the investigations which led to the first arrests of JI members in Dec 2001, ISD had uncovered the existence of 3 operations "fiahs" (fiah ayub, fiah musa and fiah ismail). During the follow-up investigations that led to the arrests in Aug 2002, ISD uncovered 4 other operations "fiahs" (fiah yakub, fiah syuib, fiah daud and fiah nuh). ]

JI Members - Military/Terrorist Training

9. Except for Husin bin Ab Aziz and Sajahan bin Abdul Rahman who were associated with the MILF, those arrested are confirmed to be or have been members of the clandestine JI organisation. At least 3 of these JI members have undergone military training at Al-Qaeda facilities in Afghanistan while one attended several training stints with the MILF in Mindanao. 14 took part in military-type physical training in Malaysia conducted by JI elements.

Al-Qaeda - Afghanistan

10. Mahfuh bin Haji Halimi (Mahfuh), Mohd Jauhari bin Abdullah (Jauhari) and Azman bin Jalani (Azman) had gone to Afghanistan for training at Al-Qaeda facilities there. Mahfuh was there from Sep 1990 to Jan 1991. He was taught weapons-handling which included the AK-47 rifle and an anti-tank weapon, the use of explosives and the making of Molotov cocktails. A year later, he conducted a refresher course in Malaysia for the Afghan-trained JI members. Jauhari went to Afghanistan in 1991, and was taught to handle Russian-made revolvers, long-range rifles, machine guns and anti-aircraft guns. Azman went to Afghanistan for about 2 months in 2001, and received basic military training including in firearms and explosives.

MILF - Mindanao

11. Another JI member, Habibullah s/o Hameed (Habibullah), attended a short training stint in 1995 with the MILF. He was taught to fire pistols, rifles and machine guns. He was also shown how to make improvised bombs, handle grenades and conduct ambushes. He subsequently attended further training in 1996 and 1997. Habibullah is a staunch supporter of the MILF and had raised considerable funds for the group in Singapore. He also organised visits to the MILF Camp Abu Bakar for several JI and non-JI persons.

JI Training in Malaysia

12. The JI has been conducting training camps in Malaysia since 1990. Up to 1994, the training was focused mainly on maintaining physical fitness like jogging and trekking. From 1995, however, the training camps held in Gunung Pulai and Kulai began to also teach "military" skills (without firearms training). For instance, JI members were taught to make Molotov cocktails, learn knife-throwing skills, topography, jungle survival skills and trekking. In 1997, additional modules like guerrilla warfare, infiltration and ambush were included. Around 2000, reconnaissance and observation courses were conducted in Kota Tinggi; these classes were dubbed "urban warfare". The JI even conducted "Recall and Operation exercises" to ensure that members were operationally ready. 14 (which includes the 3 who went to Afghanistan) of the 21 arrestees participated in such training camps in Malaysia.

Reconnaissance of Targets in Singapore

13. The JI leaders assigned at least 8 of these operations cell members to conduct "casing" (which involves surveillance and reconnaissance) of a range of potential targets in Singapore. So far, none of these efforts are known to have led to any fully developed or finalised plan for attack. These targets include the following:

Water Pipelines

14. The water pipelines at the Causeway were surveyed in the mid-1990s and again in 2001. JI member Sanin bin Riffin (Sanin) admitted doing the earlier recce and handing over a sketch map of the pipelines to a Malaysian JI leader called Ustaz Mukhlas ( see footnote 4 ).

[ footnote 4 : Ustaz Mukhlas is an Indonesian religious teacher and JI leader who ran the JI madrasah in Ulu Tiram, Johor. Mukhlas, who is the brother-in-law of detainee Hashim bin Abas (detained in Jan 2002), is the Mantiqi (regional chief) for the Malaysian JI (which covers Singapore as well). He is wanted by the Malaysian authorities and is believed to have gone into hiding. ]

15. In 2001, Ja'afar bin Mistooki (detained in Jan 2002) led a few of his cell members to recce the water pipelines at the Singapore-Johor Causeway. Those involved included Ab Wahab bin Ahmad (Wahab), Syed Ibrahim (Ibrahim) and Mohd Aslam bin Yar Ali Khan (Aslam is currently detained by Afghan authorities in Kabul). They also reconnoitred the water pipeline off Hindhede Road, the PUB Woodlands Water Booster Station, the Bukit Panjang Service Reservoir at Fajar Road and the Bukit Timah Waterworks opposite the Kandang Kerbau Women's and Children's Hospital. ISD recovered photographic negatives on these recces in its search of Wahab's home.

Changi Airport and Biggin Hill Radar Station

16. The JI members also mounted multiple reconnaissance of Changi Airport and the radar station at Biggin Hill between 1999 and 2001. Simon bin Sabtu (Simon), Mohamed Noor bin Sulaimi (Noor) and Munain bin Turru (Munain) were tasked by Mohamed Khalim bin Jaffar (Khalim was detained in Jan 2002) to recce these targets.

Jurong Island

17. The recce of Jurong Island was carried out around Aug 2001 by Naharudin bin Sabtu (Naharudin) and another JI member who is on the run. They reconnoitred the Island at night, taking note of the companies operating there and frequency of police patrols on the Island.

MINDEF

18. The JI also singled out MINDEF Headquarters at Bukit Gombak for survey in 2001. Those involved were Ja'afar, Wahab, Ibrahim and Aslam. Ja'afar and Aslam drove along the road outside the MINDEF compound and video-recorded the perimeter of the complex and its three entrances (at Bukit Timah, Hillview and Phoenix Avenue). ISD recovered a handwritten and typewritten copy each of a survey report from the search of Wahab's home.

19. Wahab allowed Aslam to deliver some magazines to MINDEF on his behalf (Wahab's work involved delivering magazines subscribed by MINDEF) so that Aslam could directly reconnoitre MINDEF.

American Targets in Singapore

20. The JI members were also tasked by the more senior members (several of whom were arrested in Dec 2001) in their targeting of American interests in Singapore. These included an American vessel at Changi Naval Base in late 2001 as well as a pub which they believed to be frequented by American military service personnel.

21. JI targeted American assets and interests in Singapore, out of its commitment to the "jihadist" cause it shared with the Al-Qaeda of defending the Islamic ummah (community) against its enemies. JI's link-up with Al-Qaeda in the "Sammy" operation (to bomb US and other targets in Singapore in late 2001) was the practical result of Hambali's direct Al-Qaeda connections.

THE JEMAAH ISLAMIYAH REGIONAL NETWORK

Rabitatul Mujahideen

22. A significant finding is that the regional JI did not operate alone, but formed the Rabitatul Mujahideen regional alliance of "jihadist"/militant groups. The Rabitatul Mujahideen comprised a central committee made up of leaders from the militant groups in the region which included:

a. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); and

b. A south Thailand "jihadist" group (based in Narathiwat).

The JI's role was to set up and co-ordinate meetings of the alliance partners. Secrecy was very strictly maintained and only the invited senior members of these groups were allowed to participate in Rabitatul Mujahideen meetings. Apparently, 3 meetings have been held so far between late 1999 and mid-2000.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

23. The JI considered the MILF a key ally. The JI provided the MILF with funds for its cause while the MILF in turn provided combat training and facilities for JI members at Camp Abu Bakar. The JI has apparently been allowed by the MILF leadership to operate its own training facility within Camp Abu Bakar. This camp, started around 1997, was reportedly run by Indonesian JI members.

24. The current JI investigations have revealed that there are Singaporeans who are not JI members but who have been involved with the MILF. Among the 21 persons arrested on 16 Aug 2002, 2 are not known to be JI members but are persons who have visited the MILF.

25. In 1998, Husin bin Ab Aziz (Husin) underwent field and firearms training with the MILF. Husin also performed sentry duty at least 4 times at different border locations of Camp Abu Bakar to guard against attacks by the Philippines Army. Husin has also admitted to donating $20,000 to the MILF, and raising another $20,000 for the MILF. Husin is not a JI member but an MILF member, having taken the bai'ah (an oath of allegiance) to the MILF.

Conclusion

26. The ISD's assessment is that with these present arrests, the Singapore JI network has been severely disrupted. However, the threat from regional JI elements remains. Investigation and operations will be continued to prevent JI remnants from re-grouping in Singapore or from linking up with JI elements abroad. ISD will continue to share intelligence and cooperate with the security agencies of neighbouring countries, to locate those Singapore JI members who have fled and are believed to be in hiding outside Singapore, and to uncover the regional JI network.


19 Sep 2002

Last Updated on 12 Sep 2017
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