Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Community support vital to fight terror threat

Updated 29 Jan 2015: No signs of heightened security threat since Singapore's offer to help anti-ISIS coalition
Ministers and delegates of the 60-member coalition trying to crush the Islamic State militant group attend a high-level meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on Dec 3, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

There are no indications of a heightened security threat to Singapore following its offer to deploy personnel to support the multinational coalition combating the terrorist threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean said in Parliament Thursday.

But the ongoing violence in Syria and Iraq has meant that the overall threat level for every country is greater, he said in response to questions from Mr Alex Yam (Chua Chu Kang GRC) and Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam on how the government is handling the ISIS threat to Singapore.

Mr Teo said that while security agencies here share watch-lists and information with their foreign counterparts, such measures are not fool-proof in preventing foreign terrorists from entering Singapore.

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What goes on in Syria and Iraq affects Singapore: PM Lee
Speaking at a dialogue on 29 November on Singapore’s participation in the coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed the need to be vigilant against the threat of terrorism as terrorist elements in Southeast Asia are regrouping and getting more active

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq may seem faraway but it would be naive for Singapore to think that it can keep its head low and let the threat of terrorism pass.

And the government must do what is necessary to protect Singapore and Singaporeans.

Mr Lee was speaking to some 300 community and religious leaders at the start of a closed-door dialogue with five other ministers on Singapore’s participation in the multinational coalition against ISIS.

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Paris shooting: Singapore condemns 'savage act of terror', says PM Lee

Singapore strongly condemns the deadly attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo which killed 12 people, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

PM Lee wrote on Facebook that he was shocked to learn of the "brutal attack", and had written to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to convey his condolences.

He added that Singapore "strongly condemns this savage act of terror".
"It is yet another reminder of the threat posed by terrorism to all civilised societies, and that it is totally wrong to invoke religion to justify such savagery," he wrote.
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Singapore 'strongly condemns' Charlie Hebdo attack: PM Lee

The attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 dead in Paris is a "savage act of terror" that Singapore "strongly condemns", said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Facebook post on Thursday (Jan 8).

"It is yet another reminder of the threat posed by terrorism to all civilised societies, and that it is totally wrong to invoke religion to justify such savagery," wrote Mr Lee, who has written to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to offer condolences to the families of the victims.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam has also written to French President François Hollande to extend condolences and sympathies on behalf of the people of Singapore. 

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Paris shooting: DPM Teo says Singapore has stepped up security patrols and surveillance
In a Facebook post, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean expressed his condolences to those who lost loved ones in the Paris shooting on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore has stepped up its security patrols and surveillance in relevant areas in light of the Paris shooting on Wednesday, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

In a Facebook post on Thursday morning, DPM Teo, who is also Minister for Home Affairs, said Singaporeans can help by reporting any suspicious activities to the authorities.

The gun attack that killed at least 12 journalists, cartoonists and policemen in Paris is an example of how extremism can lead to violence and bloodshed, DPM Teo said.

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Mr Teo Chee Hean – Working Together to Keep Singapore Safe and Secure

Over the years, the Home Team has worked closely with the community to keep Singapore a safe and secure home. In 2012, our crime rate fell for the seventh consecutive year, to the lowest in nearly three decades. Our recidivism rate is stable. Our fire fatality rate remains very low. The number of immigration offenders has steadily declined. The number of road fatalities has also started to come down. However, we are acutely aware that any fatality or serious crime is a tragedy in itself, and can have a detrimental effect on our sense of safety and security. This is one reason why community partnerships and engagements are so important – they create a sense of collective ownership for safety and security which in itself provides a sense of assurance that issues can be addressed and overcome.

Our collective sense of safety and security provides a strong foundation upon which our society has been able to develop and prosper. It has also helped to make Singapore a good place to live, and bring up families.

While the situation today is relatively good, we still face difficult security challenges, and must remain vigilant to ensure that Singapore continues to be a safe home for all Singaporeans.

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ESM Goh Chok Tong: Good that Muslim leaders have condemned Paris terror attacks

The recent terror attacks in Paris can cause misunderstandings to develop between Muslims and non-Muslims, and it is good that Muslim leaders around the world have come out to condemn the terrorists.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said this on Saturday, adding that the attacks that claimed the lives 17 people were "totally reprehensible and barbaric".

World leaders have condemned the perpertrators, he said, but more importantly, so have Muslim leaders in many countries, who have come forward to state that "this is not what Islam is all about".
"Otherwise, there will be a misunderstanding between Muslims and non-Muslims, and this is exactly what the terrorists want to create, misunderstanding, so there's a clash between Islam and the others,"
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Singapore mosque to observe moment of silence for victims of Paris shootings
A moment of remembrance will be observed for the victims of the recent Paris shootings at the Khadijah Mosque in Geylang Road, at 11am tomorrow

Prayers will held for the victims and family members of the Paris shootings as well those from other recent tragedies, including the AirAsia flight QZ8501 crash, the Sydney siege, and the attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan.

“This symbolises our sense of solidarity and show of support for all concerned,” said mosque secretary, Abdul Rahim, who also conveyed gratitude and appreciation for the peace and harmony experienced in Singapore.

Dr Fatimah Lateef, Member of Parliament for Marine Parade, will be the guest-of-honour at tomorrow’s event. Other Malay-Muslim community leaders, members of the Geylang Serai Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle, and Chinese clan organisation members will also attend.

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Paris attacks due to 'sick and mad people', not religious issues: Shanmugam
Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam signing a condolence book for victims of the Paris terror attacks at the French Embassy on Cluny Road. The "barbaric" terrorist attacks in Paris last week were the acts of "sick and mad people" and had nothing to do with issues of religion, race or nationality, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said on Monday. -- PHOTO: ZAO BAO

The "barbaric" terrorist attacks in Paris last week were the acts of "sick and mad people" and had nothing to do with issues of religion, race or nationality, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said on Monday.

"Nothing can justify the killings," he told reporters. "It's been done in the name of religion (but) no religion will have any truck with these actions."

Speaking at the French embassy in Singapore after signing a condolence book for the victims of the terrorist killings, Mr Shanmugam said the Republic stands in solidarity with France as it mourns the Paris attacks

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Dr M: Avoid religious provocation and insult
"What's the use of them making fun of Prophet Muhammad when they know it will annoy Muslims?

Religious provocation must be avoided because one can never anticipate what an angry person will do, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The former prime minister said despicable acts such as insulting Prophet Muhammad should not have been committed in the first place.

"They did not respect Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. They like to do caricatures regarding religious issues. This is an act of provocation," Dr Mahathir told reporters after launching the "One Soul, One Quran" campaign at Kuala Lumpur Tower yesterday.

He was commenting on Wednesday's terror attack on Charlie Hebdo where three gunmen stormed the Paris office of the French satirical weekly, which is known for lampooning Islam and other religions. Twelve people, including the editor-in-chief and three cartoonists, were killed.

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Up to 3 million copies of new Charlie Hebdo edition to carry cartoon of Prophet Mohammad
The poignant "All is Forgiven" front cover

Up to 3 million copies of Charlie Hebdo could hit newsstands this week, dwarfing its usual print run of 60,000, in response to soaring demand for the first edition of the satirical weekly since last week's deadly attacks by Islamist militants.

Seventeen people, including journalists and police, were killed in three days of violence that began on Jan. 7 when militants burst into Charlie Hebdo's office during a regular editorial meeting and shot dead five of its leading cartoonists.

Liberation newspaper, now temporarily housing Charlie Hebdo operations, revealed the front page of the Jan. 14 edition via Twitter late on Monday - an image of the Prophet Mohammad holding a sign saying "JE SUIS CHARLIE" ("I am Charlie") below the headline "TOUT EST PARDONNE" ("All is forgiven").

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Paris shootings: Ahmed Merabet's killers 'pretend Muslims' says brother

The men who were captured on camera killing a policeman outside the Charlie Hebdo offices were "pretend Muslims", the victim's brother has said. Ahmed Merabet was one of 17 people who lost their lives during three days of terror on the streets of Paris.

Speaking during a news conference his brother Malek urged people not to avenge his death with further violence and reiterated that Islam was not about "terrorism or madness". He added: "My brother was Muslim and he was killed by people who pretend to be Muslims.

They are terrorists, that's it".

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PM LEE: THE TALIBAN ATTACK IN PAKISTAN SHOWS WHY WE MUST FIGHT TERRORISTS

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote to the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to give his condolences for the 132 children and 9 teachers who were killed in a school shooting by the Taliban.

PM Lee highlighted that this was a painful reminder of why the world needs to fight terrorists and he also shared in a separate facebook post that the attack in Pakistan was much worse than the Sydney Siege which happened just a day earlier, despite the greater media coverage of the incident in Sydney.

He wrote on facebook that all people share a common humanity and it doesn’t matter what country we live in.

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Peshawar attack a ‘painful reminder’ on why world must fight terrorists: PM Lee
A Pakistani girl, who was injured in a Taliban attack in a school, is rushed to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan. Photo: AP

The attack on a school in Pakistan yesterday (Dec 16), which killed 132 children and nine teachers, was a “painful reminder” on why the world is fighting terrorist causes, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a letter of condolence sent to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today.

Mr Lee said he was “deeply saddened” to learn that many of the victims were students “who were seeking an education to better their lives”.

“On behalf of the Government and people of Singapore, I offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and the people of Pakistan on the savage and dreadful attack,” wrote Mr Lee.

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Singapore leaders express sorrow over Peshawar school massacre
Gunmen massacred 132 children and nine staff in the tragic incident on Tuesday

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sent a letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday, offering his condolences to families of victims in "the savage and dreadful" attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar.

In his message, PM Lee said Singapore "strongly condemns this dastardly act of terror which has killed so many innocent young people".

He added: "I was deeply saddened to learn that many of these victims were students, who were seeking an education to better their lives. It is a painful reminder of why we are fighting against the terrorist cause, and why we must remain vigilant and resolute in this long battle."

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Sydney siege: Terrorism threat remains cause for concern, say PM Lee and Singapore leaders
PM Lee Hsien Loong, along with other local leaders, have said that the Sydney cafe hostage-taking situation showed that the threat from terrorism remained a cause for concern and that Singaporeans need to be alert. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore's leaders, reflecting on the Sydney hostage-taking incident and the loss of lives, said it showed that the threat from terrorism remained a cause for concern and that Singaporeans need to be alert - and stay united should any such incident occur here.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Defence Minster Ng Eng Hen and Senior Minister of State (Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs) Masagos Zulkifli all commented in Facebook posts on Tuesday on the 16-hour siege in which a gunman took hostages in a Sydney cafe on Monday.

The incident ended in the early hours of Tuesday morning when heavily-armed security forces stormed the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in the city centre. The gunman and two other people died in the incident and at least four others were injured.

related: PM Lee writes to Australian PM Abbott, sends condolences to victims and familes

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Ministry of Law to review framework for granting bail in wake of Sydney siege
Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam (left) said he had asked the Ministry of Law to review the framework for granting bail in light of the Sydney hostage situation on Dec 15, 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

The Ministry of Law has been asked to review the framework for granting bail.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam said that he had asked the ministry to do so, in light of the Sydney hostage situation on Monday.

Mr Shanmugam said: "Understand that the killer was out on bail, while being accused of a serious crime, and had a history. Calls for a careful re-look."

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Sydney siege a reminder for Singapore to be vigilant: DPM Teo
The hostage incident at a downtown Sydney cafe is a reminder for Singapore to remain vigilant against terrorist attacks, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said

In a Facebook post on early Tuesday morning (Dec 16), Mr Teo said the incident shows that terrorist attacks by individuals can take place even when there is heightened security.

“Everyone in Singapore can play a part to help pre-empt and prevent such attacks by remaining vigilant and reporting any suspicious activities to the authorities promptly. Just as importantly, if such an attack should take place, we should all face it together in a calm and resolute way, and cooperate with the authorities to resolve it appropriately,” he wrote.

“Any such terrorist activities are a danger to all communities in Singapore, and all Singaporeans should remain united and continue to work together to overcome them.”

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Singapore reviews country's bail clauses after Sydney cafe siege
The 16-hour-long siege ended with two hostages dead. AP Image

In response to the siege at an Australian cafe that resulted in the deaths of two hostages in Sydney, Singapore's Law Ministry has been asked to review the framework for granting bail while the leaders here have expressed grief over the incident.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the incident was a lesson for Singapore to keep up its guard. "Despite all our precautions, we can never completely rule out such an incident here," the Prime Minister wrote a post on his Facebook.

"If it ever happens, we need the cohesion and resilience to deal with it calmly and as one united people, and not let it divide or destroy our society," he said.

Lee recalled a briefing he had held last month with local community and religious leaders on extremist terrorism, where discussion was on how terrorism remains a live threat and the danger of self-radicalism.

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Community support vital to fight terror threat: PM

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq had seen terrorist elements in South-east Asia regroup and become more active, and it was naive to think that Singapore can keep its head low and the threat will pass.

The Government had to do what was necessary to protect Singapore, he told 300 religious and community leaders of various faiths at the start of a closed-door dialogue on the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

Doing the necessary includes getting the support of the community, being vigilant domestically, and "taking swift action to neutralise threats to Singapore, or people who may get themselves in trouble". Singapore has also contributed to the international effort to tackle the threat at its source, he noted.

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Singapore must take swift action to neutralise worsening terror threats: PM Lee
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed 300 community and religious leaders from various faiths at a dialogue session today (Nov 29). Photo: Wee Teck Hian

The terrorist threat has recently worsened due to the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq and while it might seem far away, it is naive to think that Singapore can keep its head low and let it pass over, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today (Nov 29).

He added that the Government has to do what is necessary to protect Singapore, and this includes getting the support of the community, staying vigilant domestically, and taking swift actions to neutralise threats. This is also why Singapore needs to contribute to the international efforts against militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), through liason and planning officers, a KC-135R tanker aircraft and an imagery analysis team, he said.

Mr Lee was addressing 300 community and religious leaders from various faiths, prior to a closed-door dialogue with the group at what was the largest dialogue with the leaders since 2011. Five other Cabinet ministers were present, including Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

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PM Lee holds dialogue with religious, community leaders on Islamic State threat
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a dialogue with community and religious leaders on the country's participation in the multinational coalition against Islamic State, at ITE College Central on Nov 29

The threat of terrorism can cause doubts and sow division between communities - but Singapore has avoided this danger because its people are rational and have looked at the facts squarely and forthrightly condemned extremists, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. This has allowed trust to be maintained in the country, he said on Saturday (Nov 29).

Mr Lee said he is particularly grateful to the Malay-Muslim community, especially its leaders, who have maintained this position.

"This threat of terrorism can sow doubts and dissension amongst our communities," said Mr Lee. "And we have avoided this danger because our people are rational, because they have looked at facts squarely and they forthrightly condemned the extremists.

related: Singapore proposes East Asia Summit symposium to tackle religious extremism

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PM Lee holds dialogue on ISIS threat
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, seen in this file photograph, shared his concerns today about the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq at a dialogue with 300 religious and community leaders. -- PHOTO: AFP

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday said the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq has seen terrorist elements in Southeast Asia regrouping and getting more active.

And it was naive to think that Singapore can keep its head low and the threat will pass.

The Government had to do what was necessary to protect Singapore, he told around 300 religious and community leaders from various faiths and groups at the start of a closed-door dialogue with five other ministers on Singapore's concerns with the conflicts in both Middle Eastern countries.

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Singapore to join coalition in global fight against ISIS

SINGAPORE will contribute military personnel and equipment to the multi-national coalition battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a move that makes it the first South-east Asian nation to join the international campaign against the militant group.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, in announcing the contribution in Parliament yesterday, said it was part and parcel of Singapore's ongoing efforts to combat terrorism.

It was similar to what Singapore gave to fight the terrorist threat from Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah (JI) in the past 10 years.

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Singapore yet to decide on joining US-led fight against ISIS
Singapore is “seriously considering” how it can be a helpful partner in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said today (Oct 17)

Speaking at a retreat at the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan, Italy, Mr Lee told political leaders from the two regions that Singapore welcomes the formation of a broad international coalition, including the United States and many Arab countries, to combat the terrorist threat.

He said that, given the complex situation in Iraq and Syria, there is no purely military solution to the problem. However, it is still necessary to contain and weaken the Islamic State, he added.

In recent weeks, a US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against Islamic State targets in Kobane, a Syrian town at the border of Turkey, to push back the militants’ advance.


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Singapore to join fight against Islamic State
Members of the Singapore Armed Forces participate in a military exercise with the US Army. (screen capture: YouTube/AiirSource)

Singapore said Monday it would provide military support to the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group but would not take part in combat operations

Singapore, which has one of Asia’s best-equipped armed forces, has long considered itself a prime target for Islamic militants, particularly those operating in Southeast Asia.

The US military operates a post in the city-state that helps in logistics and exercises for its forces in Southeast Asia.

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When horror strikes in the heart of peaceful places
Flowers being removed at a memorial site outside the Lindt cafe in Sydney on Tuesday, one week after the siege which saw two hostages and the gunman killed. What is striking about such incidents is the everyday ordinariness of where the victims were and what they were doing before the bloodbath. -- PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Exploring  the malls while on leave last week, I saw parents and children enjoying family time together, friends chatting over coffee and cakes, youngsters thronging the cineplexes and shoppers intent on their Christmas shopping. There were scents of heady fragrances and freshly baked cookies, shiny baubles and decorations, the sparkle of Orchard Road lights and cool rainy weather - all evoking that special, familiar year-end feeling of happy anticipation, relaxed excitement and mellowness that signal Christmas and New Year.

These were the sights and sounds of Singapore residents and tourists going about their holiday season activities.

Then I reflected on the news headlines of that same week:
  • the Sydney siege in a cafe on Dec 15 which left two hostages and the gunman, an Australian resident of Iranian origin, dead;
  • the Peshawar school attack a day later which saw 132 Pakistani children, nine staff and their Taleban attackers all killed;
  • Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's court appearance on Dec 18 for the Boston Marathon bombings where five were killed and 280 injured. Tsarnaev is a US citizen, formerly of Dagestan;
  • the granting of bail on Dec 18 to the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks of 2008, where 166 people were killed, including Singaporean lawyer Lo Hwei Yen who was attending a legal seminar.
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Update 15 Feb 2015: S'pore, US pledge to boost cooperation in anti-terror fight
Emergency-preparedness exercise simulated attacks on Shenton Way (above), Biopolis and Plaza Singapura

Singapore and the United States have pledged to step up anti-terrorism cooperation, ahead of an inaugural global summit to be organised by the White House on countering violent extremism.

The move was one of the key outcomes of the third US-Singapore Strategic Partnership Dialogue held in the US capital last Friday.

A joint statement said that the dialogue's co-chairs, Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Chee Wee Kiong and US top diplomat for Asia Daniel Russel, noted a "mutual desire to work to counter violent extremism in all its forms, having partnered together on the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL". ISIL is another name for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group, or ISIS.

related:
Govt-wide anti-terror drill on land and at sea
US-led air strikes hit Qaeda branch in Syria: monitor
Coalition chiefs seek plan to counter IS advance
S'pore welcomes UN anti-terror resolution 'and will play its part'
Security tightened at Vatican over attack fears: Report


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