Published: 11 January 2023
Question: Minister, do you have any comments on the recent detention of Mohamed Khairul Riduan Bin Mohamed Sarip by the Internal Security Department?
Minister: Khairul is the first National School Teacher detained under the Internal Security Act. He had made plans, concrete plans, to go to Gaza. He wanted to help HAMAS, others, join them to fight, and engage in armed violence. This is very serious. He got radicalised after watching videos, including videos by foreign preachers – Ahmad Deedat, Zakir Naik, amongst others – which discussed the concept of armed jihad in defence of Islam.
In 2012, about 11 years ago, Khairul thought of how he could go to Gaza after coming across a poster on Facebook titled “Panggilan Jihad!”, or “Call to Jihad”. The poster said that HAMAS and its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (AQB), were waiting for volunteers for a humanitarian mission to Gaza. Khairul then checked on travel routes and flights to Gaza, and sought advice from foreigners who were either based on Gaza or planned to travel there.
He wanted to keep his real plans under wraps. So, he planned to travel to Gaza on the basis that he was going to give humanitarian assistance. He researched a fair bit into HAMAS and AQB, studied materials on their tactics and operations. He tried to learn Arabic to communicate with HAMAS and AQB soldiers. He was willing to listen to instructions given by HAMAS, and specifically, he was prepared to be involved in armed fighting, kidnapping, and even executing prisoners of war. I mean, you have seen some of them being beheaded and so on. He was prepared to be involved in that.
Khairul believed that the weapons-handling skills and training that he had gotten during his National Service would help him. He also thought that he would provide medical aid to HAMAS and AQB soldiers because he had basic first-aid skills training. He explored being an international recruiter and spokesperson for HAMAS. And, he made plans to use social media to encourage others to join HAMAS. So, you can see from the background – quite detailed plans and quite serious in his thinking.
Question: Minister, did the investigation reveal anything else about his beliefs?
Minister: What we found is that he holds extremely segregationist beliefs. He had tried to influence his family members, children to his views. Many didn’t listen to him. He shared lectures by Zakir Naik on his Facebook page, including one that told Muslims that they should not wish Christians “Merry Christmas”. And he told his children they cannot celebrate birthdays. It gives you a sense of his thinking
Question: Minister, how can people who have strong interest or are affected by certain conflicts like the Israel-Palestinian conflict actually show support for these causes?
Minister: There are causes around the world that many of us do, and can feel strongly about. It can be a Palestinian cause, it can be other causes. Singaporeans can, and they do, take views on these causes, many provide moral support, financial support, and other means of support, to advance causes they believe in. There are legitimate organisations that Singaporeans can partner, to support these causes all around the world, including the cause of helping Palestinians.
For example, MOS Faishal, my colleague in the Ministry of Home Affairs, made a post in 2021 following the Gaza conflict. He expressed his views, in very strong terms. He explained how Singaporeans can help Palestinians, how to give humanitarian assistance. And respectable organisations within Singapore have collected monies, material to give such humanitarian assistance to Palestinians.
But armed violence is different, unacceptable. What we cannot do is to support terrorism, support armed conflict, plan to kill people.