Self-radicalised Singaporean teenager released from detention under ISA

Under a restriction order, the teenager is no longer detained but must abide by several conditions and restrictions. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - A radicalised Singaporean teenager who was detained for terrorism-related conduct two years ago was released this month after making good progress on his rehabilitation.

Daniel (not his real name), who was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) when he was just 17 in January 2020, was placed under a restriction order this month, said the Internal Security Department (ISD) on Monday (Jan 24).

The department said that while undergoing rehabilitation, Daniel had continued with his studies, and went on to do well in the national examinations - an achievement that had a positive impact on his self-esteem.

It added that it has been working closely with the Religious Rehabilitation Group and the Inter-Agency Aftercare Group to rehabilitate Daniel and correct his radical ideology.

"Daniel has been receptive to these efforts and has made significant progress in his rehabilitation," said the ISD.

Under a restriction order, Daniel is no longer detained but must abide by several conditions and restrictions. For example, he cannot access the Internet or social media, or issue public statements without the approval of the ISD's director. He is also not allowed to travel out of Singapore without approval.

Daniel was first investigated by the ISD in September 2017, when he was 15 years old. He had posted on social media defaced images of President Halimah Yacob and called for militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to behead her.

ISD learnt that he was introduced to pro-ISIS social media groups by a foreign online contact.

Given his young age and the assessment that he did not pose an immediate threat, Daniel was not dealt with under the ISA then and was instead given counselling to steer him away from problematic ideology.

But Daniel remained staunchly supportive of ISIS and was discovered by the ISD to be willing to help the terror group's online propaganda efforts. He was even ready to undertake other activities if called upon to do so.

In January 2020, the ISD detained him. At 17, he was then the youngest to be detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), before the case of a 16-year-old emerged last year.

The department said that Daniel's detention was a "sobering wake-up" call to the teenager and it gave him a chance to turn his life around.

While in detention, the teenager received monthly religious counselling sessions to help him improve his understanding of Islam and correct the misguided beliefs he was introduced to by ISIS.

"In the process, Daniel... gained an appreciation of Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious context," said the ISD.

He also saw a psychologist to reduce his vulnerability to radical influences, and had a mentor to guide him on his personal goals.

At the same time, Daniel worked with his school and three Religious Rehabilitation Group volunteers, who are also trained teachers, to continue his education.

They tutored him and guided him in his self-studies. The ISD said that, during the Covid-19 circuit breaker period, arrangements were made for his tutoring to continue through video conferencing.

Daniel was allowed to sit for the national examinations while in detention. He scored four distinctions out of five subjects in his GCE Normal (Technical) level examinations in 2020, and passed all his subjects in his GCE Normal (Academic) level examinations last year.

The relationship between Daniel and his family members has also improved, and the ISD noted that his family members visited him regularly while he was in detention.

The department said that Daniel will continue to be supported as he re-enters life in the community.

"Since his release, he has successfully enrolled in his choice course of study at a post-secondary institution. ISD will continue to work with Religious Rehabilitation Group and the Inter-Agency Aftercare Group to ease his reintegration into society," it said.

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