Why It Matters

Mindset shift in terror fight

Last week, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a propaganda video that a Singaporean anchored.

Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad, 39, has been fighting for ISIS on the front lines and, in the video, he praised East Asian fighters and encouraged more to join the terror group.

He has also been reaching out to friends and family in an attempt to convert them.

The terror threat is very close to home, and not just because individuals like him have travelled to join ISIS.

As ISIS loses ground in the Middle East, some South-east Asian fighters are returning home and bringing the fight with them. They are also inspiring others. There have been attacks on the streets of Jakarta and entrenched battles in Marawi in the Philippines. And in June last year, there was a grenade attack on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Singapore has also been cited as a target in militant publications and videos, by both ISIS and other groups. Last year, a Batam-based terrorist group plotted to fire rockets from the Indonesian island, targeting the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort. The authorities in Indonesia foiled the plot.

And with individuals improvising with trucks and daggers as weapons, the threat of a copycat lone-wolf attack is real. The prospect is chilling, but something Singaporeans have to be prepared for.

On Sept 27, SGSecure shifted its emphasis from merely raising awareness about potential threats to increasing Singaporeans' preparedness for when an attack does occur.

This new focus is in part due to the terror threat having become more real in recent years. According to Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, there have been 11 arrests and multiple restriction orders in Singapore between 2015 and this year, much more than in previous years over comparable periods.

Singaporeans have to be mentally prepared for an attack, and also how to deal with it.

It is time for Singaporeans to step up and shift towards a mindset of preparedness.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2017, with the headline 'Mindset shift in terror fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe