Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) and Inter-Agency Aftercare Group (ACG) Seminar 2022 - Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Ministry for Law

Published: 24 January 2022

Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim,

Co-Chairmen of the RRG -
Ustaz Ali Haji Mohd &
Ustaz Mohd Hasbi Hassan,

ACG Leaders,
Chairman, AMP - Dr Md Badrun Nafis Saion,
President, Taman Bacaan - Mr Abdul Halim Kader,

Members of the RRG and the ACG,


1.   Good evening to all of you.

2.   Thank you for inviting here today for this RRG ACG seminar. 

3.   The RRG and ACG volunteers have made significant contributions over the last 20 years in our fight against terrorism and radicalisation, and we have talked about it many times in different contexts.

Rehabilitation Efforts

4.   As you know, the Internal Security Department (ISD) first found the Singapore JI network in December 2001, a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks. The RRG and ACG leaders stepped forward to help in the rehabilitation and reintegration of the detainees. 

5.   It was an area that was unknown to us, it was unchartered waters, but we walked the journey together, and  I have to say the outcomes have been very good.

6.   Since 2002, over 130 Singaporeans have been dealt with for terrorism-related activities. 

7.   At present: only 15 remain in detention and 26 under supervision. So really, if you compare it with other countries, essentially these people are detained, and the keys are thrown away.

8.   This would not have been possible if it had been the Government that had been doing it. It has been possible because of your efforts – the RRG and ACG.

9.   Many of you here have committed your time and resources to mentor and counsel the detainees, supervisees, and their families. So, it’s not just those who have been released, but multiply that by their families and the young children. They could have been radicalised, their families could have been radicalised, or at least could have been much worse off. But because they are out, now they can look after their families and you make a better future for them. And that’s a difference that you’ve made.

10.   Take the example of “Daniel”. He was 17 years old when he was picked up, ISIS supporter. He was detained under the ISA in January 2020, two years ago. At that time, he was the youngest detainee. 

11.   You have guided him over the last two years, and under your guidance, and with support, he has made strong progress.

12.   He went through sessions every month with his religious counsellor, we provided a psychologist, and that strengthened his resilience against radical influences. He renounced his radical ideology and support for ISIS, and has turned his life around. 

13.   While he was in detention, he went through weekly sessions with RRG members who are MOE-trained teachers for his GCE “N” level exams, and he did very well in his exams.

14.   He has now found his purpose – to study hard, find a good job, provide for his family when he sets up a family, and contribute to society. 

15.   He was released from detention earlier this month, and he is in a post-secondary institution. So, he’s moved on from “N” levels to a post-secondary institution.  

16.   This rehabilitation journey of “Daniel” and other detainees shows what the hard work you do and the dedication that you give, can make a difference to people’s lives. 

17.   It also highlights the multi-stakeholder approach that we take – with Government on one side providing the psychologist, MOE supporting with the teachers, the teachers being RRG trained with your counselling and religious counselling – so that when he comes out, he understands religion, he is religious without being radical. So, we have to try and build an ecosystem of care and supervision around the detainee and his family to facilitate reintegration, and we don’t want them to get back into radicalisation. I don’t think any other country puts so much effort into every single detainee.

20 Years On – Evolving Terrorism Threat Landscape

18.   20 years on from the original Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) arrests, the JI continues to pose a serious threat.

19.   In Indonesia, the JI continues to conduct recruitment and fund-raising activities. It is trying to rebuild its military capabilities. 

20.   You would have read many news reports. The JI is infiltrating and working its way into political parties, government agencies, community organisations.

21.   It is part of JI’s “long game” strategy, to extend its reach, extend its influence. At its core, the JI has not renounced its violence as a means of achieving what it wants.

22.   Besides JI, we are also dealing with Al Qaeda and ISIS, self-radicalised individuals, far-right extremists.

23.   And all these groups, they are very good at using social media now, to get their propaganda across, to conduct recruitment, to plan terror operations.

24.   That poses a challenge because we see young people falling for this, and the attraction of radicalisation through online platforms is very high.

25.   So, it’s good that RRG, ACG, and other community partners, are moving into inoculating and sensitising the community to radical ideologies, to terrorism threats, by using the cyberspace as well. We’ve got to be there.

Counter-Ideology Efforts

26.   To this end, the adaptation of the approach is important and that has been an ongoing process.

27.   RRG has also released updated versions of their counter-radicalisation manual, and that is also important to build the resilience of the community against radical ideas.

28.   And as Dr Mohamed said, the Resource and Counselling Centre (RRC) as well as Khadijah Mosque itself are also being redeveloped. These are significant milestones, and we look forward to visiting the new RRC as well as the mosque when the renovations are completed.

The Road Ahead

29.   Let me conclude by emphasising that all of us have a role to play in this fight against terrorism. 

30.   We have been fortunate that we have been able to bring the community together to work with the Government.

31.   Your work keeps Singapore safe and secure. Without your work, some of those 130 would have ended up in Syria or Afghanistan. Some of them, many of them, would be in detention with no hope for the future. You have saved lives.

32.   I encourage all of you, and I thank all of you for the good work that you have been doing, and we hope to continue the journey. 

33.   Thank you very much.