Flags similar to those used by ISIS sold in Singapore

The Singapore company is seen here selling the flags (left), which are similar to the real one carried by an ISIS fighter in Syria (right).
The Singapore company is seen here selling the flags (left), which are similar to the real one carried by an ISIS fighter in Syria (right).PHOTOS: FACEBOOK/ALBENYAHYA ENTERPRISE, REUTERS
The Singapore company is seen here selling the flags (left), which are similar to the real one carried by an ISIS fighter in Syria (right).
The Singapore company is seen here selling the flags (left), which are similar to the real one carried by an ISIS fighter in Syria (right).PHOTOS: FACEBOOK/ALBENYAHYA ENTERPRISE, REUTERS

A local company which sold flags associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group has come under scrutiny.

The owner of Albenyahya Enterprise admitted ordering about 20 such flags in July, during the month of Ramadan, to sell at a bazaar. The leftovers were offered through the company's Facebook page.

When online sites highlighted this in reports, company owner Syed Mohammad Faisal filed a police report to complain about "baseless accusations" that his company had links with terrorism. By yesterday afternoon, he had taken down his company's Facebook page.

"I didn't anticipate such a reaction. The most important thing is for me to protect my family," said the sole breadwinner, whose company sells Islamic wear and trinkets. He did not realise selling the flags would be such a big deal.

Asked about the incident last night, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim urged Singaporeans to stay away from symbols which could be associated with ISIS, which is also known as Islamic State (IS).

"The question you must ask is, why would you want to support a movement that promotes mass killing, the murder of innocent lives?" he said after a post-National Day Rally dialogue organised by self-help group Mendaki and government feedback unit Reach.

"It is totally irresponsible of them and I do not think we should condone this at all."

Dr Fanar Haddad, a research fellow from the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore, said that the black flag features a common declaration of faith used by Muslims.

But the specific font and design have been associated with the terror group which is trying to establish an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

The group has been blamed for numerous atrocities, including the beheading of foreign journalists. "While the IS certainly did not invent the black flag, they have appropriated it as their brand - very successfully, I must add," said Dr Haddad.

Buying their flag is comparable to football fans buying team jerseys to show their support and solidarity, said Mr Muhammad Saiful Alam Shah Sudiman, associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said in response to queries from The Straits Times: "Muis would like to reiterate that the acts of IS tarnish the Islamic faith and image of Muslims in general."

The Ministry of Home Affairs added in a statement: "The IS has enlisted foreign fighters, including those from our region, to fight alongside the group, and this has raised the threat of terrorism to Singapore.

"The authorities are monitoring the situation closely. Singaporeans can also play a part by preventing their family and friends from becoming radicalised and unknowingly drawn into the violence."

jalmsab@sph.com.sg