Possible areas of terrorism threat to Singapore

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cited these areas in its Singapore Terrorism Threat Assessment Report.


• MHA says the most pressing threat to Singapore continues to emanate from ISIS. The militant group first emerged in 2014 when it attempted to set up a hyper-violent and extremist state in eastern Syria and northern Iraq. It has come to be known for using propaganda to radicalise. Despite heavy territorial losses it has faced in Iraq and Syria, MHA said some 20,000 to 30,000 fighters remain in the two countries. Its ideology has gone online and continues to attract supporters in Singapore and overseas.

• ISIS-linked groups and sympathisers in the region continue to be active, like Jemaah Ansharut Daulah in Indonesia, which was responsible for the coordinated bombings in May last year that killed 28 people.

• ISIS remains interested in the region - portraying South-east Asia as part of its caliphate - despite the end of the five-month siege of Marawi in the Philippines last October.

• MHA says ISIS propaganda could attract foreign fighters to the region who may mount attacks in South-east Asia, including Singapore.

• About 1,000 South-east Asians are believed to have travelled to join the conflict in Syria and Iraq, with a few known to have returned and plotted attacks in their home countries. MHA says more South-east Asian ISIS fighters could seek to return, given the group's heavy territorial losses in Syria and Iraq.

• The release of terrorist prisoners in the region could also worsen the threat, as those who have not been adequately rehabilitated may return to terrorism activities.


• There are signs that Al-Qaeda and JI have been regrouping and may again launch large-scale attacks.

• The international focus on countering ISIS has provided Al-Qaeda with the space to rebuild its capabilities. Al-Qaeda is reviving its global networks and issuing more propaganda. It has also built strong bases in areas of conflict and instability, especially in the Middle East and Africa.

• Some JI cells have been procuring arms and weapons. JI members have been joining pro-Al-Qaeda groups in Syria to acquire combat skills and experience.


• Self-radicalised individuals are an increasing threat to Singapore. In the past two years, eight self-radicalised individuals were dealt with by MHA, bringing the total number since 2015 to 22.

• A few radicalised Singaporeans have also managed to travel to Syria to participate in the conflict there. Two Singaporeans had travelled there with their families, and one, Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad, left to fight alongside ISIS. He is believed to have been killed.

• Radicalisation among foreigners working in Singapore remains, although none investigated had any plans to mount attacks in Singapore.

• Since 2015, 14 Indonesian domestic workers have been repatriated after they were found to have been radicalised.

• Last year, three Malaysian work permit holders were arrested for their suspected involvement in terrorism-related activities. All three were repatriated to Malaysia.

Hariz Baharudin

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline Possible areas of terrorism threat to Singapore. Subscribe