A Singaporean, Asrul Alias, was issued with a two-year Restriction Order in August after he was found engaging in terrorism-related activities, the Ministry of Home Affairs said on Thursday (Oct 6).
The 33-year-old was arrested in August under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for investigation into his involvement in terrorism-related activities. He is a supporter of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), MHA said.
Starting in 2014, Asrul watched online religious sermons by radical preachers, as well as videos that featured ISIS fighters in combat. MHA said he had actively looked up pro-ISIS materials and shared them on social media with the intention of spreading the group's radical ideology.
Asrul also showed his support for ISIS by countering criticisms of the group he came across online, the ministry added.
However, after warnings from a family member and a close friend to stop posting pro-ISIS and pro-militant materials, the technician stopped doing so from late 2015/early 2016. He remained supportive of ISIS though, and continued to consume ISIS-related materials online.
MHA said that while its investigation showed that he had become radicalised, he was given a Restriction Order instead of being detained as he was "not an imminent security threat".
He will undergo religious counselling while on the Restriction Order, the Ministry added.
In August, MHA announced that four other Singaporeans had been dealt with under the ISA for supporting ISIS. Two were detained under the ISA after they made plans to travel to Syria to fight for the terrorist group, while the other two were issued Restriction Orders.
In their comments to the media on Thursday, the authorities also stressed the role of the community in countering terrorism. "It is a challenge to detect self-radicalised individuals who have not previously attracted security attention and who are not part of a structured organisation, such as Asrul," they said in the statement.
"This is why it is those who are close to the individual – family, friends and colleagues – who are usually better placed to detect signs that the individual has become radicalised. It is critical that they alert the authorities early of such individuals to save them from getting involved in violent activities that could harm themselves and others."
SINGAPOREAN WHO FOUGHT IN YEMEN RELEASED FROM DETENTION
MHA added that Singaporean Mohammad Razif Yahya, who was detained in August 2015 for voluntarily taking up arms in the sectarian conflict in Yemen, has been released from detention this month, and issued with a Suspension Direction (SD).
Razif's Order of Detention was suspended after it was assessed that he no longer posed a security threat that required him to be placed in preventive detention, MHA said. Among the conditions of the SD include being prohibited from associating with any militant or terrorist groups or individuals, and he is not allowed to leave the country without the prior written approval of the ISD Director.
MHA also announced on Thursday that the eight Bangladeshi nationals who were detained for their involvement in the group called the Islamic State in Bangladesh have had their Orders of Detention cancelled.
Six of them had contributed funds towards the purchase of firearms for the group's plans in Bangladesh, and were convicted of terrorism financing. They have been sentenced to between two and five years' jail, and as such, their Orders of Detention have been cancelled, the ministry said.
The remaining two members, Sohag Ibrahim and Islam Shariful, were repatriated to Bangladesh last month after investigations were completed, it said, adding that Bangladeshi security authorities were apprised of their repatriation.
MORE THAN 80 DETAINED FOR TERROR-RELATED ACTIVITIES SINCE 2002
Since 2002, over 80 people have been detained for terrorism-related activities, with 17 currently placed on Orders of Detention, two on Suspension Directions and 25 on Restriction Orders under the ISA, said MHA.
The Home Affairs Ministry said that it bases what action to take against individuals investigated by the Internal Security Department (ISD) on evidence obtained through investigations and an assessment of the level of the threat.
"Detention is a last resort to be used only when the threat is imminent," it said.
Once an individual is detained, however, he or she will have to go through a "thorough and stringent" process before being released. This factors in progress in the rehabilitation programme as well as the assessments of psychologists, ISD case officers, detention centre wardens and religious counsellors from the Religious Rehabilitation Group, MHA said, adding that those who "no longer pose an imminent threat" will be released.
"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," it said in the statement.
"Every member of the public has a responsibility not to engage in such activity, and not support others who do so."