More cases of self-radicalisation expected in Singapore due to Syria conflict: DPM Teo

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that more self-radicalised individuals would can be expected in Singapore due to the persistent conflict in Syria and Iraq.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that more self-radicalised individuals would can be expected in Singapore due to the persistent conflict in Syria and Iraq.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The persistent conflict in Syria and Iraq will draw more individuals to violence and more such self-radicalised cases can be expected in Singapore, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean during an appreciation lunch held for community volunteers from the Inter-Agency Aftercare Group (ACG) and Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) on Saturday.

"Self-radicalised individuals or 'lone-wolves' pose a growing threat in many countries, including Singapore," said Mr Teo. "Given that the armed conflict in Syria is likely to continue for some time, we can expect more such self-radicalised cases in Singapore."

In the last few months, the Internal Security Department has detained two people and issued a restriction order against another. Two were in their late teens while the third was 51 years old. This shows that anyone is susceptible to the appeal of online extremist rhetoric by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said Mr Teo.

In his speech at the lunch, Mr Teo thanked volunteers from the two groups in providing religious and social rehabilitation to radicalised individuals who were detained for their involvement in terrorism-related activities. They also helped to address the emotional and practical needs of families of the detainees.

Over the years, the ACG has expanded the scope of its work from helping families to engaging in outreach efforts which specifically target youth so as to sensitise them to the dangers of radical influences.

The RRG has also gone beyond providing religious counselling to detainees. In July, the group launched a helpline through which counsellors can clarify religious concepts misused by extremists or guide callers who suspect someone is being radicalised.

The RRG also uploaded videos on YouTube to explain how ISIS has misinterpreted Islamic teachings.

At the event, Mr Teo also launched a coffeetable book that captures ACG's contributions over the past 13 years in rehabilitating detainees and providing support to their families.