ISA arrests: Men had been meeting since 2013 using premises of local mosques, says MHA

SINGAPORE - The 27 Bangladesh nationals arrested under the Internal Security Act had been meeting since 2013, using the premises of a few local mosques, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Wednesday night (Jan 20).

At these weekly meetings, "they discussed armed jihad and conflicts that involved Muslims", the ministry said.

Most of the men had worked in Singapore for between two and seven years. They were employed in the local construction industry but were not concentrated in any particular company, workplace or place of abode, MHA said.

The group supported the ideology of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and encouraged members to return to Bangladesh and take action against the country's government.

Twenty-six of the men were deported in December last year. The remaining man, Md Zahidul Islam Md Foyej Uddin, is serving a 12-week jail term for trying to leave Singapore illegally and will be deported once he is released.

"This is the first time Singapore has uncovered a jihadist terror cell comprising foreigners," MHA said.

Previous incidents had involved Singaporeans, such as a case last year where several Singaporeans were detained after being found to have intended to participate in armed violence overseas with ISIS.

A few Singapore Jemaah Islamiyah members had also previously been involved in terrorist incidents overseas.

The MHA statement in full:

“This is the first time Singapore has uncovered a jihadist terror cell comprising foreigners. Previously, a few Singapore Jemaah Islamiyah members had been involved in terrorist incidents overseas. Last year, several Singaporeans were detained after they were found to have intended to participate in armed violence overseas alongside ISIS.
 
In this latest case, the group has been meeting since 2013. They held weekly meetings and gatherings where they discussed armed jihad and conflicts that involved Muslims. They used the premises of a few local mosques that were located near where some of them were staying. Most of them had worked in Singapore between two to seven years. They were employed in the local construction industry but were not concentrated in any particular company or workplace. There was also no concentration of the group members in any particular place of abode.  
 
The 26 Bangladeshi nationals were repatriated in December 2015. The remaining Bangladeshi, Md Zahidul Islam Md Foyej Uddin, was a member of the group and is serving a 12-week imprisonment term. He will be repatriated to Bangladesh after that.” 

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