Singaporean authorities nab secondary school student over support of Islamic State


Singaporean authorities has detained a radicalised secondary school student over his support for the Islamic State. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said he was detained under Singapore’s Internal Security Act, in a press release on Monday, February 10.

The 17-year-old teenager first caught the government’s attention in September 2017 when, at just 15 years old, he posted defaced images of President Halimah Yacob on social media and called on Islamic State to behead her for supporting Singapore, which he viewed as an “infidel” state, said the ministry.

The student had been radicalised by a “foreign online contact” that year, who introduced him to pro-Islamic State social media groups, the MHA statement said.

“Through these groups, he gained access to what he believed was exclusive ISIS (Islamic State) content,” said MHA. “In his eyes, ISIS was a powerful group that was fighting for Islam and its use of violence against its opponents was therefore justified.”

Since 2017 the ministry has tried to “steer him away from the radical path”, said MHA, but nevertheless the teenager remained a staunch supporter of the terrorist group.

He was willing to assist the group in its online propaganda efforts and undertake other activities if called upon to do so, said MHA.

This willingness continued even as Islamic State lost territory and sway.

“Even with the demise of ISIS’s so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq, he still believed in the terrorist group and its violent cause,” said MHA.

However, there are no signs that he had spread his pro-Islamic State views to those around him, it said.

Commenting on the case of the radicalised teenager, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) said it would like to “categorically debunk” the views he held.

“MUIS would like to categorically debunk the views that he was influenced to believe, i.e. that Muslims cannot live in a secular country and take up any roles in government or as the head of state,” said the council in a media statement.

“The Singapore Muslim community is a clear example of confident Muslims thriving in our secular and multi-religious context and actively contributing to our public institutions and society as a whole.”

The council also emphasised the importance of a “strong religious foundation for our young” and guidance from credible religious teachers.

It also highlighted the importance of a strong support network of family, teachers and friends to whom young people can turn in the face of misguided teachings, and also mentioned the danger of online predators who target “susceptible individuals”.

Such predators influence susceptible individuals with “misguided ideologies” and use them for “perverted ends”, said the council. This highlights the importance of digital literacy and online safety skills, especially for young people, it added. (Source: CNA)