Singapore Arrests Suspect Who Planned to Join Militants in Marawi

BenarNews staff
170907-SG-PH-arrests-620.jpg A Philippine soldier is seen through a hole in the wall of a damaged building in Marawi, Aug. 30, 2017.

Singaporean authorities on Thursday announced they arrested a man who allegedly sought to travel to the Philippines to join militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) in Marawi who have been battling government forces since May 23.

Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced the July arrest and detention of Imran Kassim, 34, after people close to him reported his radical and pro-militant views to the government. It also announced the arrest of a 23-year-old woman who was not detained but placed on a restriction order for allegedly initiating online contact with foreign terrorist fighters.

“In July 2014, Imran took the bai’ah (pledge of allegiance) to IS’s self-declared caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” the ministry said in a news release.

Imran sought to join the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the Philippines in their battles with the Philippine government, and, following the Marawi siege, planned to join the pro-IS militants, according to the government.

An investigation by Singapore’s Internal Security Department revealed Imran previously tried to join IS forces in Syria. In February 2014, after traveling to Syria to oversee the delivery of humanitarian aid to a refugee camp arranged by the logistics company he worked for, he was not able to slip away and join militant forces.

In March 2015, he contacted someone tied to IS to gain entry into Syria, but did not receive a reply, the ministry said.

Woman cannot contact terrorists

Singapore alleges that administrative assistant Shakirah Begam binte Abdul Wahab contacted IS fighters online in 2013.

“The investigation showed that Shakirah maintained contact with the foreign fighters mainly because she enjoyed their attention, and not because she had been deeply radicalized by the violent propaganda of IS,” the ministry said.

“She ceased her contacts with the IS foreign fighters in early 2016, but has nonetheless continued to keep herself apprised of developments in Syria.”

Shakirah was placed under a restriction order that prevents her from resuming contacts with IS members and allows her to undergo counseling and rehabilitation.

“It is always disheartening to hear of news of Singaporeans being radicalized. The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and our community partners, with the support of the Singapore government, must and will continue to build the community’s resilience against the allure of foreign extremist doctrines or misguided motivations for participating in a foreign conflict,” Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim wrote on Facebook.

Yaacob added that the incident involving Imran underscores “the importance of friends and loved ones staying vigilant and seeking help from the authorities for anyone showing signs of radicalization.”

At least 14 people have been detained or placed under restriction orders in Singapore since 2015, Reuters news service reported.


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