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Singapore: A Prized Target for Extremist Groups, Warns ISD

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By: BNN Correspondents
Singapore: A Prized Target for Extremist Groups, Warns ISD

The Threat of ISIS in Singapore

According to the Internal Security Department’s (ISD) recent annual report on terrorism, Singapore continues to be viewed as a prized target by extremist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The report sheds light on how conflicts in Europe and the Middle East could potentially impact Singapore’s interests. ISIS supporters in Southeast Asia have been inciting violence in a “virtual caliphate” on social media, and Singapore finds itself regularly featured in ISIS propaganda.

ISIS’s central message of defending oppressed Muslims continues to reverberate online. In June, ISIS supporters in the region called for retaliatory attacks to avenge the death of Islamic State East Asia Province leader Abu Zacharia on social media. They circulated a poster identifying several Southeast Asian government leaders, including President Halimah Yacob, as targets.

The Jemaah Islamiah Terror Cell

The report also drew attention to the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terror cell, which poses a long-term security concern to the region. Despite the Indonesian authorities’ pre-emptive strikes against the group since 2019, JI continues to garner ground support for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the region.

The Global Nature of Terrorism

The ISD highlighted that the global nature of the terrorism threat was demonstrated by online propaganda efforts linking ISIS-affiliated elements in the Middle East to their Southeast Asian supporters. Singapore’s interests run the risk of being caught in the crossfire due to conflicts such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict and heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Terror threats in the region have persisted over the past year, with extremist groups like ISIS viewing Singapore as a prized target for attacks. The ISD, the national agency in charge of monitoring and addressing potential security threats, issued warnings in its annual Singapore Terrorism Threat Assessment Report.

Call to Arms in the Virtual Caliphate

Southeast Asian ISIS supporters have incited one another to undertake violence in a “virtual caliphate” that is taking place on social media. The death of Islamic State East Asia Province leader Abu Zacharia, also known as Faharudin Hadji Satar, sparked calls for retaliatory attacks. Indonesian supporters widely shared translations of ISIS spokesman Abu Umar al-Muhajir’s speech, urging supporters around the world, including those in Southeast Asia, to continue fighting for ISIS’ cause.

The Persistent Threat of the Jemaah Islamiah

The Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terror cell poses a long-term security concern to the region. Despite pre-emptive strikes by Indonesian authorities, the group continues to seed ground support for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the region. JI’s infiltration efforts into Indonesian political parties and attempts to exploit the democratic process may intensify leading up to the Indonesian general election in 2024.

Singapore’s Interests in Global Conflicts

ISD’s report also highlighted the risk of Singapore’s interests being caught in the crossfire due to global conflicts. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and heightened tensions in the Middle East have underscored these concerns. There is a risk that state actors and their proxies may engage in terrorist activities against their adversaries, including in third-party countries, potentially impacting Singapore’s interests.

The report cites an instance where a commercial oil tanker operated by a Singapore-based shipping company was reportedly struck by an unmanned aerial vehicle off the coast of Oman. Such incidents underline the potential threats that Singapore faces due to its global interests and geographical location.

In conclusion, the ISD report underscores the persistent and evolving nature of the terrorist threat that Singapore faces. It emphasizes the need for continuous vigilance, regional cooperation, and public awareness to counter these threats and ensure the security of the nation.

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