SINGAPORE - It is of vital importance that family members and friends report early to the authorities those at risk of becoming radicalised, the Home Affairs Ministry said on Monday (June 12).
In doing so, these individuals could be stopped from being led astray by extremist ideology and may not need to be severely dealt with under the law, the ministry added.
It would also give them the opportunity to receive proper guidance and counselling, and be steered away from the path of radicalisation.
The MHA made this call to relatives, friends and the community in its statement announcing that for the first time, a woman had been detained under the Internal Security Act for radicalism.
Held earlier this month, Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari is a 22-year-old Singaporean who was a contract infant care assistant from a PCF Sparkletots Preschool. These centres are run by the PAP Community Foundation, the charitable arm of the People's Action Party.
Anyone who knows, or suspects, a person is radicalised should promptly call the ISD Counter-Terrorism hotline: 1800-2626-473.
"The heightened terrorism threat worldwide and in Singapore makes it imperative for family members and friends to raise to the authorities anyone they suspect of being radicalised or planning terror activities.
"Singapore can be made safer if family members and friends do this. The time between radicalisation and committing violence can be very short in some cases," the MHA said.
Relatives and friends, it added, are in the best position to notice possible signs of radicalisation.
These include: the avid reading of radical materials; propagating and re-posting terrorism-related images, videos and posts; expressing support for terrorist entities; and encouraging others or stating an intention to commit terrorist violence.
Izzah started to be radicalised by ISIS-related propaganda online in 2013, the ministry said.
She was actively planning to travel to Syria with her young child to join ISIS, and supported the extremist group's use of violence to establish its self-declared caliphate.
Since 2014, she had actively posted and shared pro-ISIS materials online. Her parents, both freelance Quranic teachers, and sister came to know of her her postings and intention to join ISIS in 2015, but did not inform the authorities, the ministry added.
They tried to dissuade her on their own, but were unsuccessful.
"In Izzah's case, her family members did not bring her to the attention of the authorities when she was younger and could have potentially been turned back from the path of radicalisation," said the ministry. "Furthermore, after Izzah was placed under investigation, important evidence was destroyed by a family member relating to her plans to join ISIS, in order to try to minimise her acts."
The authorities are working hard to keep Singapore safe, but cannot do it alone, the ministry added.
"Every person in the community can help to protect Singapore and Singaporeans from the threat of terrorism," it said.
Singapore is facing its highest terror threat in recent years, and its leaders - from Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam to Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim - have in the past two weeks stressed the need for Singaporeans to inform the authorities if anyone around them behaves differently from usual, or holds radical views.
MHA also noted how tecent terror attacks around the world have shown how terrorists can use easily available objects like vehicles and knives to commit violence.
"Such an act would drive a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims and divide our communities, which is precisely what the terrorist groups want," it said