Brussels attacks underscore challenges in dealing with terror threats, says Shanmugam

Heightened security at Terminal 2 in Changi Airport on March 23, 2016.
Heightened security at Terminal 2 in Changi Airport on March 23, 2016.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
There will be a major upgrade of measures to respond to terror attacks, but Singapore still has to prepare itself for such threats, said Shanmugam.
There will be a major upgrade of measures to respond to terror attacks, but Singapore still has to prepare itself for such threats, said Shanmugam.PHOTO: ST FILE
People gather and light candles at the Place de la Bourse during a vigil to pay tribute to the victims of the attacks in Brussels.
People gather and light candles at the Place de la Bourse during a vigil to pay tribute to the victims of the attacks in Brussels. PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - There will be a major upgrade of measures to respond to terror attacks, but Singapore still has to prepare itself for such threats, reiterated Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam on Wednesday (Mar 23).

This comes a day after a series of blasts ripped through Brussels airport and a city metro station, killing at least 34 people and wounding more than 180.

Speaking at an event at the Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple in Yishun,  Mr Shanmugam said the threat of a terror attack has evolved significantly into "a serious monster".

He noted the difficulty of dealing with such terror threats, adding that "Brussels was in a heightened state of alert and yet the attack took place".

 

"We have to prepare ourselves, and I think every major city has got to prepare itself," he said.

"There are measures in place but I again emphasise that unless you turn the entire city into a prison, it's not going to be possible to counter every possible attack."

Last Friday, Mr Shanmugam announced a major  ramp-up of Singapore's counter-terrorism measures, as the threat of terror attacks is at its highest level in recent times.

He stressed the threat posed by ISIS, and said it was no longer a question of whether, but when, an attack will take place in Singapore.

Mr Shanmugam revealed that Singapore will be strengthening its security architecture, including having more closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public places, and training emergency response teams to react swiftly to attacks.

There is also a need for building owners and event organisers to impose stringent security measures.

In addition, a new national programme called SG Secure will be rolled out to organise and train residents to protect society from attacks and ensure that racial and religious harmony is maintained.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group has claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks.

The explosions comes days after last Friday's arrest of Salah Abdeslam - the prime suspect in the Paris terror attacks  - in Brussels after four months on the run.

Two blasts were at Brussels Airport, and a third explosion went off at Maelbeek metro station just as commuters were on their way to work during rush hour.

calyang@sph.com.sg