SINGAPORE - Terrorism continues to be a serious threat in Singapore, the Ministry of Home Affairs said on Monday (Sept 23), urging the public to exercise caution against viewing radical material online and to report people suspected of being radicalised.
It also encouraged foreign domestic workers to seek religious advice from legitimate sources rather than the Internet, and to be careful when they join groups or befriend individuals online.
Extremist propaganda from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is easily accessible online even though the terror group has lost much territory on the ground. It continues to attract both local and foreign supporters, the MHA said.
The ministry added that both men and women are equally susceptible to online radicalisation, with an increasing trend of women taking on a variety of roles in terrorist organisations. These include roles as suicide bombers, propagandists and recruiters.
A 2017 report in the New York Times said that at least 45 Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong had been identified as active ISIS supporters, although "there may be twice as many". The author, a researcher at Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, said many start out as non-devout Muslims but become radicalised while living abroad as a response to dislocation and isolation.
The MHA stressed the importance of reporting suspicious behaviour or suspected radicalisation as soon as possible.
Signs of radicalisation include the avid consumption of radical material and the posting of terrorism-related material on social media. Someone who has been radicalised may also undergo drastic changes in appearance or behaviour - such as becoming withdrawn - and start to espouse intolerant "us versus them" viewpoints.
"Timely reporting allows early intervention to stem the radicalisation, and prevent such persons from harming themselves and others," the MHA said. "Once individuals commit an act of violence, they are liable to face far more severe penalties, including capital punishment where applicable."
Anyone who knows or suspects that a person has been radicalised, or is engaging in terrorism-related activities, should call the Internal Security Department's Counter-Terrorism Centre hotline on 1800-2626-473.
The authorities will carry out thorough and impartial investigations upon receiving such reports, the MHA said. It added that those who make such reports will have their identities kept confidential.