Published: 26 March 2022
Ustaz Kooni Syed Ibrahim Sehuali, Director, Indian Muslim Social Service Association (IMSSA)
Mufti Ustaz Dr Nazirudin Nasir
Members of the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG)
And to all the youth participants today
1. A very good afternoon. I am pleased to join everyone here today for the IMSSA youth forum. I was told that some of you attended a workshop two weeks ago at the RRG Resource and Counselling Centre (RCC) as a prelude to today's forum. I am glad that you had an insightful and engaging learning journey to the RCC.
2. I want to start off by commending the good work of IMSSA in uplifting the Muslim community in Singapore, and particularly the Indian Muslim community. IMSSA has grown to be an important and inspiring community organisation that contributes towards nation-building and safeguarding the common space that we enjoy in Singapore.
3. Today's youth forum organised by IMSSA is a testament to your commitment to strengthening the spirit of volunteerism and keeping the peace in Singapore. Your efforts will go a long way to reinforce the social and religious resilience of the Singapore Muslim community.
4. I want to thank you again for your contributions and dedication to organising this event.
The Terrorism Threat Persists
5. Twenty years ago, Singapore began a crackdown on the local members of the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), who had identified close to 80 targets in Singapore for possible attack. While the Singapore JI has been dismantled, the regional JI network remains resilient and quietly active. It continues to pose a serious long-term threat to Southeast Asia and Singapore, given its ambition of establishing an Islamic state in this region through the use of force.
6. At the same time, new threats have emerged over the years, like the phenomenon of self-radicalisation through the online sphere, and the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) amidst the Syrian conflict. Singapore has seen an uptick in the number of self-radicalised cases since 2015 after ISIS’s declaration of its so-called Caliphate in mid-2014. Between 2007 and 2014, we saw 11 cases as compared to 32 cases between 2015 and Feb 2022. It is a worrying trend, when we see that the numbers have gone up within that period of time. It is pertinent that we continue to be discerning of divisive and extremist views purveyed online that have the potential of radicalising individuals or in the worst-case scenario, rendering them prone to violent extremism.
7. This evolving threat landscape has brought about new challenges to the way we prevent, detect and counter radicalisation. Nevertheless, the counter-terrorism capabilities we developed during the JI arrests have stood us in good stead.
8. Partnership with the community, in particular, has been a critical pillar in our fight against terrorism, since the JI arrests. So the community plays a very important role. The Government alone would not be able to neutralise the terrorism threat without the strong partnership from community organisations such as the RRG and the Inter-Agency Aftercare Group (ACG) who have played an important role in the rehabilitation of terrorism-related detainees and supervisees. We are fortunate to have the members of RRG. We are also grateful to other community partners like the IMSSA who have stepped forward to contribute to upstream efforts to strengthen the community’s resilience against extremist ideas, such as through this youth forum. All of us, including the Indian Muslim community, play an important role to counter and preventing violent extremism in Singapore.
The Road Ahead
9. The terror threat to Singapore is still high, and events abroad can have an impact on our domestic security landscape. Take the example of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, where the situation remains "fragile and unpredictable". Singapore has articulated a clear stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and has strongly condemned the invasion. Overseas, there have been reports of some sympathisers being drawn to Ukraine to join the fight against the invading forces. Nevertheless, in Singapore, it is against the law for anyone here to take part in the conflict. If any of your friends ask you, please share with them that it is against the law for anyone here to take part in the conflict.
10. I urge those of you who wish to help the Ukrainians to do so via legitimate channels such as the Singapore Red Cross, that are raising funds for humanitarian aid to support affected communities in Ukraine.
11. I am pleased to know that IMSSA has several community projects in the pipeline, and I look forward to the successful completion of IMSSA’s future initiatives.
12. Let me conclude by thanking once again IMSSA for organising this event. Not forgetting the RRG and MUIS for partnering IMSSA in making this event successful. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish all of you and every Muslims in Singapore a blessed Ramadan and may the spirit of Ramadan stay in our hearts and brings out the goodness in everyone.
13. Thank you.