Singapore an effective counter-terrorism partner: US report

Singapore was a "committed, active and effective counter-terrorism partner" last year, the United States said in an annual report on global terrorism.

It noted that both countries had "unprecedented levels of cooperation" in efforts to thwart terrorism and share information last year.

The report by the US State Department, which was released on Thursday, said Singapore has identified counter-terrorism as a top policy priority, and developed a comprehensive strategy on this front.

It pointed out that counter-terrorism remains a pillar of the security relationship between Singaporean and US law enforcement and security services.

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The Country Reports on Terrorism said terrorist attacks and deaths from such incidents around the world declined in 2016, for the second year in a row.

But terrorist groups continued to exploit ungoverned territory and ongoing conflicts to expand their reach and inspire violence, said the report, with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group remaining the most potent terror threat. It said terrorist attacks on public spaces and other soft targets last year resulted in mass casualties, for instance, when a truck barrelled through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing 86 people.

The report, which assesses how countries around the world fared in their counter-terrorism efforts last year, rated Singapore positively.

The country's "domestic counter- terrorism apparatus and its ability to detect, deter and disrupt threats remained effective", it said, citing the detention of Bangladeshi foreign workers for terrorism-related activities last year.

Singapore has been a member of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition since 2014, and last year expanded its support to include medical teams in Iraq, the report said.

It laid out the various facets of Singapore's counter-terrorism strategy, including the SGSecure movement to prepare citizens to respond to an attack. Security agencies also held an 18-hour multi-agency effort that simulated attacks on civilian targets last year - the largest-ever counter-terrorism exercise to date.

Singapore has been beefing up its border security, and has continued to work at building trust among the different communities, the report added.

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore an effective counter-terrorism partner: US report'. Print Edition | Subscribe