Claims by terror detainee's family that he did not back violence 'misleading': MHA

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday night (Aug 2) described as misleading a statement from the family of terror detainee Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff.

The statement was issued by his wife Shireen Abdul Samad to the media on Tuesday afternoon, and said information on his arrest did not paint a true picture of him and his comments online.

The family said claims by the ministry and others that Zulfikar supported terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were based on selected postings of his in 2014. But his stance changed that year after reports of violence and beheadings by ISIS, the family added.

In its reply, the ministry said the statement deals with only one aspect of the Internal Security Department (ISD) investigation and "provides a misleading picture".

"For example, it suggests that Zulfikar did not post any radical views after 2014, which is untrue. It is also clear that Zulfikar supported violence by ISIS, including beheadings, and that at a broader level, he supported the idea of a global Islamic caliphate and the use of violence to achieve this," the ministry said.

Zulfikar, a 44-year-old Singaporean who is based in Australia and also took up citizenship there, was arrested on July 1 when he returned here for a visit. He was detained for two years under the Internal Security Act (ISA) last month.

The ministry said on Tuesday: "Zulfikar will have the opportunity in due course to present his case to the ISA Advisory Board, which advises the President whether the Order of Detention should remain in force."

In announcing his arrest, the ministry said he made many Facebook posts glorifying ISIS and its violent actions - including beheadings.

He also exhorted Muslims to take up arms in places such as the Middle East and the Philippines, and his posts led at least two other Singaporeans to become radicalised.

The ministry also said he planned to hold training programmes to persuade others of his agenda to replace Singapore's democratic system with an Islamic state, using violence if necessary.

However, Zulfikar's family said he had "never encouraged or promoted others to join ISIS", and he was "not a violent person". It was also never his intention to establish a caliphate in Singapore or use violence, the family added, saying he was also never a member of hardline group Hizbut Tahrir, which seeks to establish a global caliphate.

The ministry said on Tuesday that ISD's investigation into Zulfikar was for terrorism-related activities and covered a number of aspects.

One, the investigation showed that Zulfikar had contributed to the radicalisation of Muhammad Shamin Mohamed Sidek, who is currently detained under the ISA, and Mohamed Saiddhin Abdullah, who is on a Restriction Order.

"Muhammad Shamin had been radicalised to the extent that he wanted to go to the Middle East to fight with ISIS," the ministry said.

Two, admissions Zulfikar gave to the ISD during the investigation.

Three, evidence from other persons who were interviewed by ISD.

Four, Zulfikar's public statements that had been made online.

"On the basis of all the evidence, Zulfikar was established to be a security threat to Singapore and an Order for Detention was issued against him," the ministry added.

Zulfikar's wife said on Tuesday she was still in Singapore with their two youngest children, but their four older sons have just returned to Melbourne, where the family has been living since 2002.

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