Two Singaporean auxiliary police officers have been arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for their links to terrorism, in what is believed to be the first such case involving uniformed personnel.
Describing the arrests as "chilling", Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said: "These two were trusted to protect our society, but instead chose to endanger it."
The men were fellow Aetos officers at Woodlands Checkpoint when they were nabbed last month, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said yesterday.
Muhammad Khairul Mohamed, 24, has since been detained for planning to travel to Syria to fight against the Syrian government, while Mohamad Rizal Wahid, 36, has been placed on a Restriction Order for supporting his plan.
When Khairul was arrested, his job as an outrider with traffic enforcement duties did not require him to be armed, the ministry said. The Straits Times understands, however, that he has had weapons training and has performed armed duties before.
News of the arrests comes one week after MHA revealed last Monday that Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, had become the first Singaporean woman to be detained for radicalism under the ISA. The infant care assistant planned to travel to Syria with her child to become a "martyr's widow", fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Like her, Khairul became radicalised after going online to gather information about the conflict in Syria. He started to do so in 2012.
"Khairul perceived the Syrian conflict to be a 'holy war' in which he was prepared to die in battle as a 'martyr' and receive divine rewards," MHA said. In 2014, he tried to contact a foreign militant and Free Syrian Army (FSA) supporters on Facebook.
At the point of his arrest, he was still interested in engaging in armed violence in Syria. The ministry said his readiness to resort to violence in pursuit of a religious cause makes him a security threat to Singapore.
Several of Khairul's relatives and friends knew of his intention to fight in Syria, but none of them came forward, said MHA.
His colleague Rizal was working as an armed officer conducting general security duties at the checkpoint when he was arrested.
He knew about Khairul's plan to travel to Syria to fight, the ministry said, but he "not only failed to bring the matter to the attention of the authorities or the Aetos management, he even suggested to Khairul various ways to get to Syria and die there as a 'martyr' ".
As an auxiliary police officer, he should have tried to dissuade Khairul and reported him to his superiors, MHA said. Rizal was placed on a Restriction Order that curtails his movements and activities. Both men are no longer with Aetos. Their last day of service was June 1.
The ministry said: "The Government takes a serious view of anyone who supports, promotes, undertakes or makes preparations to undertake armed violence, regardless of how they rationalise such violence ideologically, or where the violence takes place. This is particularly so if the person involved is a public servant, and especially if he or she is a uniformed officer."
Aetos said it will seek to educate its staff on the risks of self-radicalisation and train its supervisors to spot the signs.
The ministry added: "We strongly urge the public not to let the cases of Khairul and Rizal detract from the good work of the wider pool of Muslim police officers, or affect their confidence in our police officers."