Published: 27 May 2015
Arrest and Detention of Self-Radicalised Singaporeans
1. A Singaporean youth has been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for terrorism-related activities since April 2015. In May 2015, another Singaporean youth was arrested under the ISA for further investigations into the extent of his radicalisation.
2. In April 2015, M Arifil Azim Putra Norja'i (Arifil) was detained under the ISA for terrorism-related activities. Investigations showed that Arifil, a 19-year-old post-secondary student, had made plans to join the terrorist group "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)". His radicalisation began around 2013 after he started viewing terrorist propaganda online. He grew to support the radical ideology and violent tactics of ISIS, and befriended individuals online whom he thought could help him join ISIS. He had actively surfed the Internet for information on travel routes to Syria so that he could engage in armed violence there, and had furthermore done research online on making improvised explosive devices.
3. More importantly, Arifil also revealed that if he was unable to join ISIS in Syria, he intended to carry out violent attacks in Singapore. He gave considerable thought to how he would attack key facilities and assassinate government leaders. If he was unable to carry out these plans, he planned instead to carry out attacks in public places in order to strike fear within our society, using easily available weapons such as knives.
4. Arifil is the first known self-radicalised Singaporean to harbour the intention to carry out violent attacks in Singapore.
5. Arifil's intention to carry out violent attacks in Singapore were subsequently corroborated by several persons who said that he had tried to recruit them to help carry out these plans. Investigations showed that while these persons did not fall prey to Arifil's attempts to recruit them, they also did not alert the authorities about Arifil. Fortunately, another person who knew Arifil noticed the changes in him, and had brought him to the attention of the authorities, who were then able to investigate the matter and take action before he could carry out his violent attack plans in Singapore.
6. In May 2015, another radicalised Singaporean post-secondary youth, aged 17, was arrested under the ISA for further investigations into the extent of his radicalisation. His family was informed of his arrest, and will be kept informed of the outcome of the investigations.
Protecting Young Persons from Radicalisation and Turning to Violence
7. There have been recent reports of young people in other countries who have become so deeply radicalised by extremist propaganda that they are prepared to undertake acts of terrorist violence at home and abroad. These two young Singaporeans who have been radicalised demonstrate that young persons in Singapore can also become radicalised in particular through the Internet.
8. Family members, friends, colleagues and members of the public have an important role to play in protecting fellow Singaporeans from radicalisation and engaging in terrorist activities. This should be done early, so that Singaporeans at risk of becoming radicalised can be provided proper guidance, supervision and religious instruction, and be saved. Religious institutions and teachers also have an important role to play in engaging young Singaporeans when they have questions on religious matters, and steering them in the right direction. Anyone who knows or suspects that a person is radicalised should promptly call the ISD Counter-Terrorism Centre hotline 1800-2626-473 (1800-2626-ISD). This could save such individuals and allow them to be helped and counselled, so that they are prevented from engaging in violent activities that may cause harm to themselves and others.
Comments by Dpm Teo Chee Hean on Arrest and Detention of Self- Radicalised Singaporeans
"Terrorism remains a serious global threat. But it is not just a problem that is "over there" in some other countries. It is also a problem that is "over here", in our region, and here in Singapore as well.
We have seen examples of self-radicalised youths in other countries. The two self-radicalised young Singaporeans show that our youths are also vulnerable. Singapore too, faces real threats from radicalisation.
Our community leaders have worked hard to counter radical ideology. We should all, from all communities in Singapore, support each other in this effort. The Government will also provide more support to community groups to do more. All of us have to work together to overcome this issue together.
All of us must play our part. If you know or suspect anyone who is becoming radicalised, please notify the authorities early. You would be helping to save that person from harming himself and others.
Our security agencies will do their utmost to detect and prevent any terrorist attack. However, as we have seen in other countries, an attack can still happen even in countries that are already on high security alert.
We must strengthen our community resilience so that if an incident were to occur here, we can recover and emerge even stronger and more united."