MCI bans book linked to radicalisation of detained former NSF who planned attack on synagogue

Amirull Ali had planned to carry out a fatal attack on Jews at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Waterloo Street.
Amirull Ali had planned to carry out a fatal attack on Jews at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Waterloo Street.PHOTOS: INTERNAL SECURITY DEPARTMENT, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A book that a self-radicalised former full-time national serviceman (NSF) had referred to, has been banned in Singapore for promoting armed jihad and enmity among religious communities, said the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) on Thursday (June 24).

The publication - Menyingkap Rahsia Tentera Elit Briged Izzuddin Al-Qassam: Generasi Muda Perindu Syahid, which translates into English as Uncovering The Secrets Of The Izz Ad-Din Al Qassam Brigades Elite Force: The Young Generation Of Seekers Of Martyrdom - had come to the Government's notice during investigations into Amirull Ali.

The 20-year-old, who was an NSF in the Singapore Armed Forces when he was arrested in February this year, was detained under the Internal Security Act in March.

He had planned to carry out a fatal attack on Jews at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Waterloo Street, and investigations found that the book was one of the factors that led to his radicalisation, said the MCI.

He had bought the book overseas in 2015. It is authored by Abdul Aziz Abu Bakar and Adnan M. El Halabi, and published by Hijjaz Records Publishing.

Expressing support for the ban, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said that after an assessment, it found that the book "carries problematic ideas" by encouraging armed jihad and promising that people who do so would be guaranteed bountiful rewards from God.

"Muis would like to urge the community to be wary of such publications and the views and thinking behind them. The promotion of extremist religious views and ideologies that promote violence, enmity and distrust are not the values of Islam or the Singapore Muslim Community," the council said in a statement.

The MCI said: "Such teachings and ideologies are detrimental to Singapore's racial and religious harmony and relations. The Singapore Government has zero tolerance for individuals or publications which aim to incite hostility or violence among different religious groups and has therefore decided to prohibit this publication." 

Meanwhile, Minister for Communications and Information and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo, commenting on the ban, urged Singaporeans to "keep careful watch over the young to protect our future as one people".

"If extremist views take root in impressionable young minds, it could lead them down the path of self-radicalisation," she said in a Facebook post. "Continued vigilance is a must, as is a focus on the never-ending task of building friendship, trust and confidence in one another, regardless of race and religion."

Parliamentary Secretary for Communications and Information Rahayu Mahzam said the threat of extremism cannot be taken lightly.

"As a multi-racial and multi-religious society, we need to stand by the principles of harmony and unity to ensure that such content does not influence the way we think, act and feel towards each other," she said in her Facebook post.

"As Muslims, we also need to stand up against teachings that are against the core values of Islam. We have to continue to work together with the community, including with our youth, to promote peace, mutual understanding and cooperation amongst people of different faiths."

Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said the Government continues to work hard to detect and deter those who seek to harm Singapore’s way of life.

He added: "We also need the community to work with us and look out for anyone who might be radicalised or exposed to questionable content, so that we can prevent them from harming themselves and others."

The book has been gazetted as a prohibited publication under the Undesirable Publications Act, making it an offence to import, publish, sell or offer to sell, supply or offer to supply, exhibit, distribute or reproduce it or any extracts of it.

Those who already have the book will have to hand it over to the police or risk the maximum punishment of a fine and jail term.

The ban starts from Friday.