2 Singaporeans arrested under ISA for terrorism-related activities

Members of the Iraqi Army seen with an ISIS flag in Mosul, Iraq, on July 8, 2017.
Members of the Iraqi Army seen with an ISIS flag in Mosul, Iraq, on July 8, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Two Singaporeans have been arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for terrorism-related activities, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement on Thursday (Sept 7).

The two are Imran Kassim, 34, the managing director of a logistics company, and administrative assistant Shakirah Begam Abdul Wahab, 23. Both were arrested in July this year.

Imran has been detained under the ISA for "intending to undertake armed violence overseas" with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group, while Shakirah, was issued a restriction order for "initiating and maintaining contact with foreign terrorist fighters".

The MHA said Imran's terror links date back to 2014, when he travelled to Syria in February that year to oversee the delivery of humanitarian aid to a refugee camp.

The delivery was arranged by the logistics company where he was a managing director, said the MHA.

"At the refugee camp, he had intended to slip away from his hosts and make his way to join ISIS, but was unsuccessful," said the statement.

In July that year, Imran took the "bai'ah" (or pledge of allegiance) to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

 

"He has admitted that he was prepared to attack Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel deployed in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, or hold them as hostages to demand ransom from the Singapore Government which he intended to channel to ISIS to boost the terrorist group's finances," said the MHA.

In March 2015, Imran had also contacted a pro-ISIS foreign contact in a bid to enter Syria to join the terror group, but did not get a reply.

Since May this year, Imran had also harboured intentions of joining the fighting in Marawi in the southern Philippines, where Philippine forces are battling pro-ISIS militants for control of the city.

The MHA said Imran has been actively trying to galvanise support for ISIS on social media, using different accounts and personas to post pro-ISIS material. The ministry added that he had also tried unsuccessfully to influence his friends.

"His radical and pro-militant views attracted the attention of people close to him, who then reported him to the authorities," said the MHA.

Meanwhile, Shakirah first contacted ISIS fighters in the Middle East in 2013, after reading about the Syrian conflict in the media.

She had come across social media details of a foreign fighter and initiated contact with him.

Gradually, her network of online contacts expanded to include other fighters, said the MHA, noting that she had stopped contacting these fighters in early 2016.

"The investigation showed that Shakirah maintained contact with the foreign fighters mainly because she enjoyed their attention, and not because she had been deeply radicalised by the violent propaganda of ISIS," said the MHA.

Having said that, the MHA said Shakirah "demonstrated a propensity to engage in risky behaviour" that made her vulnerable to influence and recruitment by terrorists, and so had put her on a restriction order, which limits her activities and movements.

These arrests come as the terror threat in Singapore is at its highest levels in recent years. In response to the threat, the Government here has launched large-scale public education campaigns and conducted security exercises involving agencies such as the police and SAF.

The last arrests made public were in June, when three Singaporeans were arrested for terror-related offences.

Infantcare assistant Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, planned to travel to Syria to be a "martyr's widow". Auxiliary police officer Muhammad Khairul Mohamed, 24, was detained for planning to travel there to fight, and his colleague Mohamad Rizal Wahid, 36, was issued a Restriction Order for supporting his plan.

On Thursday, the MHA also said that two ISA detainees - Amiruddin Sawir, 54; and Muhammad Harith Jailani, 20 - were released last month and placed on restriction orders.

"While in detention, Amiruddin and Harith have been cooperative and shown good progress in their rehabilitation. As such, they were assessed to no longer pose a security threat that required preventive detention," said the MHA.

Both men were detained two years ago for planning or participating in the armed conflict in the Middle East, said the MHA.

In July, the MHA also allowed the restriction order of Jemaah Islamiyah member Samad Subari, 60, to lapse.

It said that Samad has been "cooperative and responsive to rehabilitation efforts, and no longer requires further supervision under the restriction order regime".