Singapore deports two Indonesians to Batam

A view of the immigration clearance counters at Changi Airport.
A view of the immigration clearance counters at Changi Airport. PHOTO: ST FILE

Woman allegedly planned to go to Syria via S'pore to link up with ISIS, with man's help

Singapore has deported two Indonesians to Batam, in the second reported case of Indonesians attempting to use the Republic as a transit point for travel to Syria.

The Indonesians, a woman and a man, both 40, were deported on Tuesday by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

The woman, identified as Suriati, had allegedly wanted to go to Syria to link up with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said the Indonesian police.

She was helped by the man, identified as M. Nur, a native of Medan in North Sumatra province.

Suriati, who is said to have resided in West Java, reached Singapore's HarbourFront Centre on Monday and was later taken away for interrogation; M. Nur arrived at Changi Airport the same day and was questioned separately.

They were deported to Batam the next day, Lieutenant-Colonel Saprono Erlangga, a Riau Islands police spokesman, told The Straits Times.

Yesterday, Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) confirmed the deportation in response to The Straits Times' queries.

"MHA confirms that two Indonesians were deported to Indonesia after it was established that one of them intended to travel to Syria via Singapore with the assistance of the second individual.

"(The) Singapore authorities informed their Indonesian counterparts before the deportation," said an MHA spokesman.

Suriati had left Batam on a Queens Star speedboat on Monday afternoon. It was not known where M. Nur had departed from.

Mr Erlangga said the duo, who are not married to each other, were still being interrogated by police and immigration officers as of late afternoon yesterday. Investigators were trying to verify their statements and looking into the possibility that they were linking up with ISIS.

Mr Erlangga said M. Nur had claimed to be arranging Suriati's trip to Syria in order for her to work as a maid there. "We are trying to check whether he is telling the truth. Even if he did, Suriati may still face charges of intending to work overseas illegally. M. Nur could also be implicated," he added.

The case follows an incident on Feb 21 this year, involving three employees of a West Java radical Islamist boarding school and a teenage student who were stopped in Singapore and sent back to Indonesia. They were deported after they were found to have had plans to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS, said the MHA two days later.

All four - Mukhlis Khoirur Rofiq, 22, his brother Muhammad Mufid Murtadho, 15, Risno, 27, and Untung Sugema Mardjuk, 48 - were later questioned by Indonesia's police anti-terror unit. But they could not be detained further because they did not commit any offence under Indonesia's anti-terror laws.

All were released on Feb 24.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore deports two Indonesians to Batam'. Print Edition | Subscribe