Radicals' arrest 'underlines need for vigilance'

A prayer session at the Al-Huda Mosque along Jalan Haji Alias on July 24, 2015.
A prayer session at the Al-Huda Mosque along Jalan Haji Alias on July 24, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

The arrest of 27 Bangladeshis in Singapore for supporting radical ideology is the first known case of a large group of Bangladeshi foreign workers being radicalised, security experts said yesterday.

The men, construction workers aged between 25 and 40, were rounded up between Nov 16 and Dec 1, the Singapore Government announced on Wednesday.

The men took measures to avoid detection, but held weekly meetings in a number of local mosques where they discussed armed conflict. They also tried to recruit other countrymen. Leaders of several Singapore mosques yesterday said they had to step up vigilance and engage Bangladeshi worshippers to make sure they are clear that ideas like those held by the group distort Islamic teachings.

Bangladeshis working here denounced the group's actions, and many are worried about a possible backlash.

Bangladeshi police have arrested 14 of the 26 men who were deported and are investigating how they were radicalised.

Retired Major-General Md Abdur Rashid, executive director of Dhaka's Institute of Conflict, Law and Development Studies, told The Straits Times: "Radicalisation of Bangladeshis overseas is a problem facing not just Singapore but other countries too where there is a diaspora. Other governments should take note of how Singapore dealt with it. It will make those involved in similar activities cautious."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline 'Radicals' arrest 'underlines need for vigilance''. Print Edition | Subscribe