Housewife and JI member detained under ISA

Two Singaporeans have been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for terrorism-related activities, the latest in a trickle of such arrests here.

They are Abu Thalha Samad, 25, a member of terror group Jemaah Islamiah (JI), and housewife Munavar Baig Amina Begam, a 38-year-old naturalised citizen from India, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement yesterday.

It said Abu Thalha had lived overseas for 15 years before his arrest, having been educated in JI-linked schools in the region, where he also received paramilitary training.

In 2014, he took an oath of allegiance and became a JI member.

"He understood it to mean that he was duty-bound to carry out whatever instructions the JI leaders had for him, including performing armed jihad and sacrificing his life for the JI's violent cause," MHA said.

Since last year, he had been teaching at a JI-linked school, and was also on a committee that selected students for JI membership. But in August, MHA worked with a "regional government" to deport him back to Singapore, where he was issued a two-year detention order in September. It declined to disclose the country where he was, but it is understood that JI is active in Indonesia.

As for Amina, MHA said she was a supporter of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group, and had intended to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS.

"Amina was radicalised by a foreign online contact, who shared with her pro-ISIS materials, and convinced her that ISIS was fighting to defend Sunnis in the conflict zone," said MHA. It added that she was prepared to undergo military training and take up arms and fight.

Amina, who was given a two-year detention order this month, also influenced others by sharing materials promoting terrorism on social media. Her husband and two children, who are Singaporeans, were unaware of her radicalism, said MHA.

Amina is the second woman to be detained under the ISA for terrorism-related activities. The first was infant care assistant Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, who was arrested in June.

Meanwhile, a third Singaporean, Adzrul Azizi Bajuri, was issued a restriction order after he was radicalised by ISIS propaganda online.

The order limits the activities of the 19-year-old, a former full-time national serviceman (NSF), and requires him to go for religious counselling.

Adzrul, who was a logistics assistant in the Singapore Armed Forces when he was arrested, had come across ISIS-related videos in 2014 on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, MHA said. He was still in secondary school back then, it added.

Although he had considered fighting for the group, he started "having some doubts about the legitimacy of ISIS ideology and its violent tactics" in August this year.

MHA said his relatives and people around him had seen signs of radicalism, with one of them even trying to counsel him, but none reported it to the authorities.

"Adzrul's radicalisation was left unchecked because no one came forward to report him. Fortunately, he was detected before he could engage in armed violence overseas," said MHA, adding that there were no signs that Adzrul had radicalised any of his fellow NSFs.

None of the three individuals was reported by their relatives or friends, said the MHA, which also stressed that they did not have plans to carry out attacks here.

The action taken against the trio means about 20 Singaporeans have been dealt with under the ISA for terror-related activities since 2015.

Muslim community leaders said yesterday that the latest moves were a reminder the terror threat - particularly that posed by JI - was active in the region, and Muslims should be discerning when viewing religious material online.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, in a Facebook post, urged Muslims to seek religious knowledge from accredited religious teachers, and get help from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), the Religious Rehabilitation Group or the police if they see signs of radicalisation.

Yesterday, MHA also said a restriction order against former Moro Islamic Liberation Front member Mustafa Kamal Mohammad, 62, was allowed to lapse in September, as he had been rehabilitated.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2017, with the headline 'Housewife and JI member detained under ISA'. Print Edition | Subscribe