Friday, 22 January 2016

Religion, terrorism and threats to Singapore

Update 5 May 2016: 8 Bangladeshis detained under Internal Security Act

8 radicalised male Bangladeshi nationals were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in April this year, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday (May 3).

Among the eight, Rahman Mizanur was an S-Pass holder while the other seven were Work Permit holders, and were all employed in the local construction and marine industries, the press release said.

The eight men are: 

  • Rahman Mizanur, 31
  • Mamun Leakot Ali, 29
  • Sohag lbrahim, 27
  • Miah Rubel, 26
  • Zzaman Daulat, 34
  • Islam Shariful, 27
  • Md Jabath Kysar Haje Norul lslam Sowdagar, 30
  • Sohel Hawlader lsmail Hawlader, 29
PLANS ON OVERTHROWING BANGLADESHI GOVERNMENT - They were members of a secret group set up by Rahman in Mar this year called Islamic State in Bangladesh (ISB). The members had intended to join ISIS as foreign fighters, but as they felt it would be difficult for them to travel to Syria, focused their plans instead on returning home to overthrow the government through the use of force.

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Singapore nabs 27 Bangladeshi workers for alleged terror links

Singapore arrested 27 Bangladesh construction workers late last year for allegedly engaging in group activities that appeared to support jihadist ideologies, the government said Wednesday.

The 27, all men, were arrested between Nov. 16 and Dec. 1 under the wealthy city-state’s draconian Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday, along with their names and photos.

Almost all of them were “members of a closed religious study group” that “supported the armed jihad ideology of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” it said.

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Arrests of 27 Radicalised Bangladeshi Nationals under the Internal Security Act
Between 16 Nov and 1 Dec 2015, the Internal Security Department arrested 27 male Bangladeshi nationals who were working in the local construction industry under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
Twenty six of them were members of a closed religious study group that subscribed to extremist beliefs and teachings of radical ideologues like Anwar al-Awlaki. They supported the armed jihad ideology of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The remaining Bangladeshi national was not a member of the group, but was found to be in the process of becoming radicalised and was supportive of extremist preachers. He also possessed jihadi-related material.
The group members took measures to avoid detection by the authorities. They shared jihadi-related material discreetly among themselves, and held weekly meetings and gatherings where they discussed armed jihad and conflicts that involved Muslims. They also carefully targeted the recruitment of other Bangladeshi nationals to grow their membership.
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27 Bangladesh worker arrested in Singapore
A total of 27 Bangladeshi workers in Singapore have been arrested for supporting militant outfits IS, al-Qaeda. Photo: Ministry of Home Affairs of Singapore
Twenty-seven male Bangladesh working in Singapore have been arrested as they supported the armed jihad ideology of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS).
They arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA), reports The Strait Times.
Investigations showed that they supported the armed jihad ideology of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Some of them had considered waging armed jihad overseas, but they were not planning any terrorist attacks in Singapore, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday (Jan 20).

Silent Killers: 27 Bangladeshi Workers Arrested for Terrorist Activities
The plan was simple: earn your keep in Singapore then go home and live the good life.
But for these 27 Bangladeshi construction workers, things took a turn for the worse after they were radicalised and decided they wanted in on a terror network.

The men were found to be recruiting other Bangladeshi nationals in Singapore to participate in terrorist activities, and some were deciding whether to go to the Middle East to become militants.

Some of them supported terrorist groups that killed Shi’ite Muslims as they considered Shi’ites as “deviant”.

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27 Bangladeshi construction workers arrested for terrorist plot

27 construction workers from Bangladesh were arrested by the Internal Security Department for plotting terrorist attacks in other countries including Bangladesh. However, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Singapore was not in their list of targets. The 27 terrorists were arrested between 16 Nov 2015 and 1 Dec 2015. 26 of them have been deported back to Bangladesh while 1 is still serving jail sentence for attempting to leave Singapore illegally after finding out his friends were arrested.

In a media statement, MHA said that 26 of them are linked to a closed religious study group that supported the jihadist groups like Al Qaeda and the Daesh. Only one of them was not linked to the group but was however “in the process of becoming radicalised” according to MHA.

The group took measures to avoid detection from the authorities and held regular meetings where they share jihadist intelligence and material. They were also found to be recruiting other Bangladeshi workers in Singapore.

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27 Bangladeshi nationals arrested under ISA because of terror links, deported from S’pore
They weren't planning on carrying out attacks in Singapore though
Twenty-seven male Bangladeshis working in the construction industry in Singapore have been arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
All of them were arrested between Nov. 16 and Dec. 1, 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016.
All 27 have had their work passes cancelled, and 26 of them have since been repatriated to Bangladesh, where the authorities were informed of the circumstances of their repatriation.

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The Ministry of Home Affairs announced today that 27 Bangladeshi construction workers were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) after they were found out to be planning armed jihad overseas and in their homeland. This is the first reported instance of foreigners being arrested for wanting to prepare attacks overseas. The men were arrested between 16 Nov 2015 and 1 Dec 2015 last year.

Investigations indicate they were not planning any terrorist attacks in Singapore but some wished to return to Bangladesh to wage jihad against the Bangladeshi government. They were found to have donated money to extremist groups in Bangladesh. The men belonged to an extremist religious study group which subscribed to radical preachers like Anwar al-Awlaki and shared jihad-related documents with one another. They supported terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and the infamous Islamic State, with some thinking of joining the fight in the Middle East.

MHA said: “The Government takes a very serious view of any form of support for terrorism and will take firm and decisive action against any person who engages in any activity in support of terrorism. Foreigners are guests of our country and they should not abuse this privilege and use Singapore as a base to import their own domestic political agenda and carry out activities in pursuit of such an agenda. Foreign religious speakers who propagate divisive doctrines which could lead to mistrust, enmity and hatred among local religious groups and undermine Singapore’s social cohesion are not welcomed and will not be allowed to operate in Singapore

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10 burning questions for those 27 terrorists

THEIR faces were splashed on the front pages today – but what more do we know about the 27 Bangladeshi construction workers detained here for terrorist activities? Going off the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) press release yesterday, not much. And the media has had little else to go on.

In a perfect world (for reporters), we’d be able to ask the terrorists themselves. We couldn’t, of course, but if we could, here are 10 of our unanswered questions we’d love to ask them face-to-face.
  • How did it all start?
  • How did the group grow?
  • Have you all been found out and arrested?
  • Where did you meet?
  • What were you plotting?
  • Were you a threat to Singapore?
  • Why were you plotting?
  • How were you discovered?
  • Why did news of your arrests take so long to reach the public?
  • Any advice for like-minded people?
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22-year-old arrested for threatening to bomb City Hall on social media

In a period of heightened anxieties about terrorism (Jakarta bombings, the 27 radicalised Bangladeshis) a 22-year-old man just had to make things worse by threatening carry out an attack here.

According to a police statement, the man has been arrested for posting a threat on social media to bomb City Hall. He was nabbed shortly after a report was made on Jan 14.

The suspect was believed to have posted the comments as a hoax — but clearly it's not a funny joke, especially when it comes to terrorism.

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A blunt speech that cuts deep

THE morning after the Jakarta blasts, I asked one class of undergraduates what sort of impact the news would have on people living here. They knew of what had happened in varying detail, with the Indonesian among them having the fullest grasp. After all, it happened in his country where he had a family. The rest of the class spoke of the impact in terms of changing travel plans or business investments or perhaps it was time to ask the Indonesian help at home if her family was affected?

I was surprised that none of them raised this other point: Could a similar blast happen here? The undergraduates conceded that the question never crossed their minds, and one suggested that they were so used to the safe environment that such a scenario was hard to visualize.

Today, I read of Home Affairs and Law minister K Shanmugam saying that it is not a question of “if”, but “when” something similar would happen here. How many people agree and take this to heart? I happen to think that it would be a great coup for militants if they succeeded in doing their dirty deed here, simply because it is so “safe”.

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PM Lee Hsien Loong expresses shock over the news of Jakarta bombings

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has expressed his shock and dismay over by news of the bomb attacks in Jakarta on Thursday, 14 January.

In his Facebook post, he added, ““We all are grieving for the fallen victims of this incident, but we also condemn the act that has disturbed the security and peace and spread terror among our people.” and ask Singaporeans to stay safe if they are in the Indonesian capital.

Six explosions were reported around Sarinah shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia. Five attackers and two other people confirmed dead from the incident with police stating they have taken control of the area.

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Why did MHA announce ISA arrests two months late?

Arrests of these 27 Bangladeshi workers were made between 16 Nov and 1 Dec 2015. It took MHA more than two months to inform Singaporeans and the world about their disappearances under our notorious Internal Security Act (ISA).

My question is Why? Is it because Singapore's human rights record will be up for review at the United Nations on 27 Jan 2016 and MHA is obliged to disclose these arrests, imprisonment, deportations and imprisonment now? We will never know if there are similar cases before this instance.

What was the length of detention before repatriation is not disclosed by the MHA. Clearly, this shows that MHA does not give any regard to these migrant workers.

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Should MHA have announced ISA arrests immediately?

I am posting this as an example of how utterly illogical some of these rabid anti-establishment types can be. Was the ISD supposed to announce the arrest of the very first one immediately after the arrest so as to give those not yet arrested a chance to disappear? Did it not occur to her that perhaps some of the subsequent arrests were the result of information obtained from the interrogation of those arrested earlier?

And the most illogical point of all is her insinuation that the delay in the announcement of the arrests was because Singapore is due to undergo a review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 27th January (this is an obligation of all UN members). If that was the reason would the announcement of the arrests not have been held back until after 27th January? Overall she seems to care far more about the rights of foreign workers than the security of her fellow Singaporeans. Of course we should treat foreign workers well -- and the Minister for Home Affairs has made clear that law-abiding foreign workers have nothing to fear -- but I don't think any reasonable person would think that foreign workers have any 'right' to plot mayhem.

But she is clearly not a reasonable person. That The Independent Singapore (an online rag) airs such illogical ravings tells you a lot about its agenda.

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Cherian George On Identity Politics And The Threat Of Terrorism

Incidents abound in the Singapore context of deft handling of what one can only label as sensitive topics. For Dr George, the curry incident is an encouraging sign of Singapore’s ability to persevere through a crisis. In August, 2011, a family from China complained about the smell of curry coming from their neighbours. The incident sparked such an outcry that curry cooking events were organised in solidarity with Singapore Indians. And even the playwright Alfian Sa’at staged a play called Cook A Pot Of Curry.

Another incident he pointed out was the Little India riot. He was observing the Twitter feed then and saw “a number of Singapore Chinese Tweeters who came in very quickly to say ‘don’t stereotype'".

“Unfortunately, the message that we have consistently received from Lee Kuan Yew onwards is not that Singapore’s diversity and multiculturalism are a source of strength,” he said, highlighting that Singapore leaders have generally seen diversity as a “risk factor”.

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Many religions under one roof

FINDING an affordable space for worship has been an issue for many small religious groups. To cater to the needs of these groups, the Ministry of National Development (MND) agreed to lease land for “multi-user places of worship” last week.

This allows several groups of the same religion to be housed in a single multi-storey building where they will share facilities such as carparks and classrooms.

After seeking proposals from various religious groups, the MND said that these multi-religious hubs are likely to be located near industrial areas. Since the actual model of the hub has yet to be finalised, we decided to visit existing places of worship around the island that currently house multiple religious groups under one roof to see what they look like.

UNDER ONE ROOF: Citiraya Centre, the multi-level storey building at Geylang, Lorong 27, is home to six religious groups
HARMONY: The seven storey building accommodates two Christian churches, three Buddhist groups and a Taoist centre. The Buddhist group, BW Monastery is the only tenant that occupies two floors of the building. During the religious festivities, the respective religious groups host parties at the carpark on level one and invite the other groups to join them
AROUND THE CLOCK: Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple is a Buddhist temple located along Loyang Way. Established in the 1980s, it houses Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu deities, together with a Muslim keramat (shrine), and it is open 24 hours
UNDER ONE ROOF: Upon entering the temple, the statues of the Hindu deities can be seen on the right, followed by the Muslim shrine of a Datuk in the centre and Buddhist deities on the left. The Taoist deities are located in a separate section that is found at the back of the temple
CROWDED HOUSE: The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is held on the first day of the ninth lunar month. The oldest Nine Emperor Gods temple in Singapore, is Tou Mu Kung Temple, which is located along Upper Serangoon Road. Besides housing the Nine Emperor God, Jiu Huang Da Di, you can also find Taoist deities and the Buddhist deity, Guanyin
BRING YOUR OWN: This particular section in the Tou Mu Kung Temple allows for worshippers to bring their own idols and place them in the altar for worship. Most of the idols are Taoist deities although the altar also contains other Chinese deities
ALL TOGETHER: The United Temple on Toa Payoh Lorong 7 was the first ever Chinese temple to house different Chinese deities worshipped by the various dialect groups. Officially opened in 1975, this temple paved the way for 68 other united or combined temples to be established in Singapore
NEIGHBOURS: Within the United Temple, there are five constituent temples for the Hokkien, Hainanese, Cantonese and Teo Chew communities. These temples were previously located at Balestier and Toa Payoh until the United Temple was established. On the left is the Hokkien Chee Tian Keng Temple and on the right is the Cantonese, Fuk Tuck Chee Temple.

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Full Coverage:
Religion, terrorism and threats to Singapore, the region

ISA arrests show need to raise vigilance, say Muslim leaders
Arrests show need to raise vigilance, say Muslim leaders
14 men deported from Singapore are militants: Bangladesh police
Dhaka probe into how group became radicalized
Bangladesh police: 14 men deported from Singapore are militants
Reaching out to foreigners a challenge for mosques
Bangladeshis could have easily switched aim to Singapore targets, experts agree
Radical groups in Bangladesh
Radicals' arrest 'underlines need for vigilance'
Don't shun community because of actions of fringe group
27 Bangladeshis arrested under ISA
Deported Bangladeshi Migrant Workers Weighed 'Armed Jihad,' Police Say
TODAY Online - Actions of radicalised few should not tar all foreigners: Ministers
IS or al-Qaeda link not found
The Straits Times - 'Widen anti-terror efforts to include foreigners'
No IS, al-Qaeda link of deported 14 found yet: DB
ISA arrests: Workers fear stigma and losing their jobs
Religious heads work to build trust, maintain harmony
Radicalisation of Bangladeshi workers arrested under ISA dates back to 2013
Religious leaders call for more inter-faith dialogues
Arrested extremists could "easily changed minds, attacked Spore":Shanmugam
Southeast Asia has become a 'fertile ground' for terrorism: K Shanmugam
Singapore must do more to safeguard racial, religious harmony: Shanmugam
Muslim community must work w/Gov keep Spore safe:Religious leaders,academics
Constructive dialogue needed for mutual understanding: Archbishop William Goh
27 radicalised Bangladeshis arrested in S'pore under Internal Security Act:MHA
27 radicalised Bangladeshis arrested under ISA
27 Bangladeshis who plotted jihad nabbed
27 Bangladeshi nationals arrested in Singapore and repatriated for terror links
Are you (nationality) first, and (ethnicity) second?
Singapore Perspectives 2016 in depth: Who are “we”?
Singaporean alleges anti-Islam hate at MRT Station
Side by side – The Paris, Istanbul and Jakarta terror attacks

Community support vital to fight terror threat
Singapore to join fight against Islamic State
S’pore seriously considering how to help fight Islamic State: PM Lee
"Singapore - US" Bilateral Ties
Defending Our Lion City
Religion, terrorism and threats to Singapore