Radicalised Singaporean engineer detained under Internal Security Act

SINGAPORE - A radicalised Singaporean engineer, who wanted to travel to Syria to take up arms in support of terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has been detained under the Internal Security Act.

Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman, 33, was detained in August after investigations showed he was radicalised, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement on Wednesday (Sept 12).

The information technology engineer, who had sought religious knowledge online since 2013, was found to be following the lectures of several foreign radical ideologues, said the ministry.

They include radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an Al-Qaeda ideologue who was killed in 2011 by a United States drone strike in Yemen, and several other clerics who have been arrested or jailed for inciting violence or espousing support for terrorism.

Ahmed "grew to believe that the use of violence in the name of religion was justified" and by late 2016 was convinced that he should fight and die as a martyr for ISIS in the terror group's self-proclaimed caliphate in the Middle East, said the ministry.

He maintained regular contact with pro-ISIS foreigners on social media to keep up with the developments overseas and also tried to influence some of his foreign online contacts to follow the violent teachings of the radical ideologues he had been following because he wanted them to support ISIS.

 
 

Commenting on Ahmed’s detention, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said: “This new case shows that the threats of self-radicalisation and terrorism remain real... We must stand together to protect our peace and harmony in Singapore.”

Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, also reiterated in a Facebook post that the Singapore Muslim community stands firmly against extremist teachings.

Calling on people to be vigilant about radical ideologies and preachers online, he urged them to always look out for one another and to refer those who show signs of radicalisation to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), the Religious Rehabilitation Group or the police.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, meanwhile, highlighted the Muslim community’s increased efforts in countering radicalism.

She cited Muis’ work in building up the capabilities of religious teachers to reach out to young people and their parents, and in training religious teachers in digital media to fight radical ideology online.

“The actions of the misguided few must not be allowed to define an entire community. We must stand together with our Muslim friends, because every one of us has a role to play in upholding trust among communities in Singapore,” she said in a Facebook post.

Muis, also weighing in, warned of the dangers of seeking religious knowledge on the Internet, saying that people can be swayed by the narratives of foreign radical ideologues who misinterpret the religion to incite violence and promote terrorism.

It added in a statement that the Muslim community should seek knowledge from credible sources, such as religious teachers who are registered under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme.

The scheme requires that the teachers abide by a formal code of ethics that stresses moderation and lays out what religious teachers here must or must not do.

The council has also formed an Asatizah Youth Network to reach out to young people.

Meanwhile, a housewife who was radicalised online and had wanted to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS was released from detention in July after her Order of Detention was suspended, said MHA.

Munavar Baig Amina Begam, 39, "no longer posed an imminent security threat that required her to be placed in preventive detention", it added.

Instead, she has been issued with a Suspension Direction, which requires her to abide by several conditions and restrictions.

For example, she is not permitted to change her residence or employment, or travel out of Singapore without the prior approval of the director of the Internal Security Department (ISD).

She also cannot issue public statements, address public meetings or print, distribute, contribute to any publication, or hold office in or be a member of any organisation, association or group without the prior approval of the ISD director.

Amina, a naturalised citizen from India with two children, was radicalised online and used social media to promote terrorism. She was detained in November 2017 for supporting ISIS and harbouring the intention to join the terror group in Syria.

The ministry had said her husband was not aware of her radicalism.