Published: 11 January 2023
Detention of Self-Radicalised Singaporean Mohamed Khairul Riduan Bin Mohamed Sarip
1. Mohamed Khairul Riduan bin Mohamed Sarip (Khairul), a 38-year-old teacher with the Ministry of Education, was arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in October 2022. Khairul was self-radicalised and ready to travel to Gaza, Palestine under the guise of humanitarian aid to join HAMAS and its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (AQB), in armed combat against the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Khairul is the second person to be detained under the ISA for wanting to carry out armed violence because he was affected by the Israel-Palestine conflict.1
Pathway to Self-Radicalisation
2. Khairul’s interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict began in 2007 after he viewed Facebook videos on purported Israeli acts of aggression against Palestinians, including women and children.He developed a strong desire to defend and support the Muslims in Gaza out of deep sympathy for them.His subsequent online research into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict entrenched his belief that the Israelis, particularly the IDF, were oppressing the Palestinians.Khairul was further convinced of the need to engage in armed defence of the Palestinians after he watched videos by radical foreign preachers, Ahmed Deedat and Zakir Naik,2 which discussed the concept of armed jihad in defence of Islam.
3. Khairul first considered travelling to Gaza in 2012 after coming across a poster on Facebook titled Panggilan Jihad! (Call to Jihad!), which called for volunteers for a humanitarian mission to Gaza. The poster also indicated that HAMAS and AQB were waiting for the volunteers. While Khairul did not follow through on his intent in 2012, he would feel compelled to travel to Gaza whenever the conflict escalated – for instance in 2014 and 2021. He did not eventually do so both times due to then ongoing travel restrictions.3 Nonetheless, Khairul continues to harbour hopes of travelling to Gaza, and admitted that he would be motivated to act should the situation deteriorate further.
Preparations to travel to Gaza for Armed Jihad
4. Since 2012, Khairul had made preparations to travel to Gaza with the aim of establishing contact with HAMAS and AQB upon his arrival. He researched travel routes and flights to Gaza, and sought the advice of foreign individuals who were either based in or intended to travel to Gaza. To avoid security scrutiny, Khairul planned to travel to Gaza under the guise of providing humanitarian aid.
5. Khairul also researched intensively into HAMAS and AQB, including viewing materials relating to their tactics and operations. He believed that HAMAS and AQB were the legitimate defenders of the Palestinians and that their acts of violence against the IDF were justified in Islam. He was willing to abide by any instructions given by HAMAS, including armed combat, kidnapping, and even executing Prisoners of War. He was confident of applying the weapons-handling skills and fieldcraft acquired during his National Service to engage in armed combat.4 Khairul was certain that he would achieve martyrdom if he were to die while performing armed jihad. He also attempted to learn Arabic to facilitate communication with HAMAS and AQB soldiers when in Gaza. He was also willing to provide medical aid to HAMAS and AQB soldiers using the basic first-aid skills he had acquired.
6. Khairul contemplated being a spokesperson and international recruiter for HAMAS, and was prepared to facilitate the travel of any individuals interested in joining the armed conflict. He believed that it was his religious obligation to “spread the truth” about the conflict, and intended to report on the situation in Gaza if he managed to travel there. He was convinced that providing first-hand updates of the conflict on social media would increase the credibility of his postings and encourage others to join HAMAS.
7. Apart from his support for armed violence, Khairul also holds segregationist and hard-line religious beliefs, and had attempted without success to influence his family members and children to hold such views. For instance, he shared videos of lectures by Zakir on his Facebook page, including one in which Zakir stated that Muslims should not wish Christians “Merry Christmas”. He also forbade his children from celebrating birthdays.
ISD’s Investigation To-date
8. ISD’s investigation to-date shows that Khairul had acted alone. There was no sign that he tried to involve others in his plans to travel to Gaza to carry out armed violence. There is also no indication thus far that Khairul harboured any intention to carry out attacks in Singapore.
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. This is particularly so if the person involved is a public servant. In Khairul’s case, he was convinced that the use of violence against the IDF and “oppressors” of Muslims is justified, and was prepared to participate in armed combat against them alongside HAMAS and AQB, and to die as a martyr if necessary. While his previous attempts did not materialise due to circumstances beyond his control, Khairul remains committed to making his way to Gaza should there be another escalation in the conflict there. Given his deeply entrenched radical beliefs and support for armed violence, Khairul poses an imminent threat and has been issued an Order of Detention under the Internal Security Act with effect from 30 Nov 2022.
10. 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).
Lapse of Restriction Orders
11. The Restriction Orders (RO)5 issued against three Singaporeans under the ISA were allowed to lapse upon their expiry as they had shown good progress in their rehabilitation. They are:
a) Mohamed Rashid bin Zainal Abidin (aged 63), a former Jemaah Islamiyah member who was detained in May 2006 and released on a RO in May 2014.His RO was allowed to lapse in May 2022;
b) Dian Faezah binte Ismail (aged 40), a self-radicalised individual who supported the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.She was issued with a RO in August 2016.Her RO was allowed to lapse in August 2022; and
c) Razali bin Abas (aged 60), a self-radicalised individual who supported the use of armed violence against the perceived enemies of Islam.He was issued with a RO in October 2018.His RO was allowed to lapse in October 2022.
Internal Security Department
 In March 2021, Amirull bin Ali (Amirull) was issued with an Order of Detention for planning to carry out a knife attack against Jews at the local Maghain Aboth Synagogue, and for planning to travel to Gaza to join HAMAS’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades to fight against Israel. Amirull was primarily driven by his strong feelings towards the Israel-Palestine conflict.