Singapore has arrested four men under its Internal Security Act (ISA) who joined or planned to join violent overseas conflicts, its Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said Wednesday.
Three of the men were involved in a sectarian conflict in Yemen while the fourth attempted to join a Kurdish militia group fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria, an MHA statement said.
The ISA allows suspects to be detained without trial or issued restriction orders under which their movements are monitored and they are required to attend religious counseling sessions.
Two of the men, Mohammad Razif bin Yahya and Amiruddin bin Sawir, were detained in August 2015 after they voluntarily participated in an armed conflict in Yemen, the MHA said.
Razif, 27, began religious studies in January 2010 and Amiruddin, 53, in July 2013. Both volunteered for armed sentry duties at a religious institution to prevent incursions by Shiites, the statement alleged.
It said that Amiruddin was involved in a gunfight with Shiites and that both men were prepared to kill and be killed as martyrs.
“By taking up arms in Yemen, they have demonstrated a readiness to use violence to pursue their religious cause. As such, they are assessed to pose a security threat to Singapore,” the MHA statement said.
Yemen has endured years of armed conflict between its majority Sunni Muslims and Houthi rebels, who are Shia. Saudia Arabia and a coalition of Arab states entered the conflict in 2015.
Two other men, Mohamed Mohideen bin Mohamed Jais and Wang Yuandongyi, were issued restriction orders (RO) this month, according to MHA.
Mohideen, 25, performed sentry duties in Yemen while pursuing religious studies from 2009 to early 2011 but was not involved in any firefights, according to the MHA.
Wang, 23, planned to travel to Syria to join a Kurdish militia group that is fighting against the Islamic State (IS). He left Singapore in January 2016 planning to travel to Turkey and Syria, but someone who became aware of his plans reported him.
MHA said Wang was taken into custody in an unnamed country and returned to Singapore where he was placed on an RO this month.
In December 2015, Wang contacted a Kurdish militia group online to express interest in their fight against IS and communicated with others about joining the militia group, the MHA said.
Wang had Singapore military-issued gear including a uniform and boots he planned to use in battle, it said.
“The government takes a stern view against anyone who supports, promotes, undertakes or makes preparations to undertake armed violence, regardless of how they rationalize such violence ideologically,” the MHA statement said.