Published: 10 March 2021
Detention of Singaporean Youth
1. Amirull bin Ali (Amirull; aged 20), a former full-time National Serviceman in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), was detained in March 2021 under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Amirull wanted to carry out a knife attack against Jews at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue (“Synagogue”) at Waterloo Street, and also made plans to travel to Gaza, Palestine to join HAMAS’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (AQB), in its fight against Israel.
2. Amirull’s interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict started sometime in 2014 after he viewed a video which showed Palestinian civilians being bombed by Israeli fighter jets. His subsequent online research into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict convinced him that Israel was oppressing Palestinians and also deepened his hatred for Israel. His support for the AQB began in 2015 after he read a book which glorified the group’s exploits in fighting for Palestinian rights. In 2018, Amirull discussed with a foreign contact his intention to travel to Palestine to join AQB and was encouraged to do so; he was told that he would become a martyr if he were to die fighting against the enemies of Islam on the battlefield.
Plans & Preparations to Join AQB
3. Between mid-2018 and 2020, Amirull made preparations to travel to Gaza to take up arms alongside AQB. He researched travel routes to Gaza, and practised how to handle a rifle using a replica of an AK-47 assault rifle which he made himself (see Annex A).He was focused on the AK-47 as he believed that he would be issued one by AQB based on what he had read about the group. Amirull planned to join AQB after completing his full-time National Service and when he had saved up enough money.
Attack Plans Against Jews at the Synagogue
4. In July 2019, Amirull watched a CNA documentary on the Jewish community in Singapore and was enraged that Jews were thriving peacefully in Singapore, whilst Palestinians were suffering overseas. Amirull then decided that he would conduct an attack against Jews at the Synagogue.
5. Amirull knew that it would be difficult to procure a firearm in Singapore. To carry out his intended attack, he planned to use a Smith & Wesson knife (see Annex B), which he had originally purchased in 2016 for his scouting activities. To prepare himself for the attack, he downloaded an image of the human vascular system (see Annex C) which he used to identify the mid-section as the best place to stab his intended victims to inflict a quick death from massive bleeding. He then made a replica knife (see Annex D) to practise stabbing motions and grip techniques at home, so as to avoid damaging the actual knife or injuring himself. He admitted to having made at least two physical reconnaissance trips to the Synagogue, between August and early October 2019. From his recce trips, he had identified a suitable spot along the exterior wall of the Synagogue’s compound from where he could ambush his victims when they exited from the Synagogue. He was careful not to take pictures of the Synagogue during his reconnaissance to avoid attracting security attention. He downloaded an online picture of the Synagogue instead, for reference prior to his reconnaissance trips (see Annex E).
6. Amirull planned to execute his attack at the Synagogue on a Saturday, after Jewish congregational prayers. His goal was to kill three Jewish males; he had targeted the males on the assumption that they would have served national service in Israel and hence carried out alleged atrocities against the Palestinians. He intended to conceal his face with a white keffiyeh (scarf) when carrying out the attack, and would flee the scene after the attack and return home to post a short manifesto online. The aim of the manifesto was to incite all oppressed people to mount attacks against tyrannical regimes using “any means necessary”, including “assassinat[ion]” and “vigilante justice”.
7. In October 2019, Amirull had second thoughts about his attack plan. He was concerned that he would not attain martyrdom should he be arrested and sentenced to death after the attack. In his mind, martyrdom could only be achieved by fighting in an actual battlefield in Gaza. Nevertheless, Amirull revisited his attack plan in December 2020 when he became enraged by an online video about the killing of an unarmed and autistic Palestinian man by Israeli forces. He considered mounting the attack on Christmas Day (25 December 2020), and planned to wear a black ski mask instead of the white keffiyeh. Amirull had bought the black ski mask in March 2020 with the intention of wearing it when he joined the AQB in Gaza, as he had seen AQB fighters wearing such a mask. However, he eventually shelved his attack plans, as he remained concerned about not attaining martyrdom.
ISD’s Investigation To-date
8. ISD’s investigation to-date indicates that Amirull had acted alone. There was no sign of him trying to influence anyone with his radical outlook or involve others in his attack plans. His immediate family and others in his social circles were not aware of his attack plans.
9. ISD will take firm action against any individual in Singapore who supports, promotes, undertakes or makes preparations to undertake armed violence, regardless of how they rationalise such violence, or where the violence takes place. In Amirull’s case, he wanted to engage in armed violence both at home and abroad.He made detailed plans and preparations to kill Jews in Singapore, and was held back only because he was uncertain if he would achieve martyrdom from doing so. If Amirull had remained undetected, he might have eventually carried out his attack plans in Singapore or travelled abroad to undertake armed violence. Amirull posed an imminent security threat to Singapore and has been detained under the ISA.
10. At the time of arrest under the ISA, Amirull was serving his full-time National Service in the SAF.The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) had alerted ISD that Amirull could have been radicalised by extremist ideologies.ISD’s subsequent investigations confirmed that he was self-radicalized.
11. It is important for the public to remain vigilant to signs that someone around us may have become radicalised, so that we can intervene early to avert a tragedy. Possible signs of radicalisation include, but are not limited to, the following:
a) avid consumption of radical materials;
b) espousing an “us versus them” thinking (e.g. displaying hatred or intolerance towards people of other races or religions);
c) expressing support for terrorist or militant groups;
d) expressing interest to travel to and participate in an overseas conflict; and
e) stating intention to commit terrorist violence.
Anyone who knows or suspects that a person has been radicalised should promptly contact the ISD Counter-Terrorism Centre hotline 1800-2626-473 (1800-2626-ISD).
Release from Detention
13. Sheik Heikel bin Khalid Bafana (Heikel; aged 49), was released from detention and placed on a Restriction Order (RO) in March 2021. He had been detained under the ISA in March 2019 for his active involvement in the civil war in Yemen. While in Yemen, he also worked for a foreign power as a paid agent.
Lapse of Restriction Order
14. Rasidah binte Mazlan (aged 63) was issued with a RO in March 2019, after investigations showed that she was in contact with multiple foreign entities suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activities. Her RO was allowed to lapse upon its expiry in March 2021.
Internal Security Department
10 March 2021
 This documentary was part of CNA’s Singapore Mosaic series showcasing the different communities in Singapore.
 The video which Amirull watched is titled “Israeli forces kill unarmed disabled Palestinian in Jerusalem” and was uploaded onto YouTube in June 2020 by TRT World. The video was about 32-year-old Iyad Halak who was shot and killed by Israeli police on 30 May 2020, after failing to stop at a checkpoint in Jerusalem. Palestinians had demonstrated against his killing and compared it to the killing of George Floyd in the US.