JAYA PRAKASH's picture
Singapore arrests two for terrorism-linked activities
Posted on Sep 10, 2017

Singapore authorities have arrested two people, a man and a woman, for terrorism-related activities.

Both detainees will be kept in custody under Singapore’s draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for detention without trial.

The arrests and detentions by Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD), Singapore’s ultra-secret security agency, customarily means a two-year detention until a Pardons Board headed by a Presidential Review Committee decides if the detainees are sufficiently ‘cleansed’ and indoctrinated enough to again be reintegrated into mainstream society.

The ISA arose out of the Public Preservation Security Ordinance (PPSO), a British-led legislative and security initiative enacted in the early 1950’s to battle communist insurgents. It was fine-tuned in later years to give security officials considerably more power and discretion in the battle against insurgents. In the 1960s it turned dangerous such that it appeared the authorities were beginning to losing their grip.

The new arrests and detentions are yet another wake-up call for the prosperous and tiny city-state deemed as one of the most stable of nations in South-East Asia, and which stands trigger-ready to nip all forms of terror attacks.

The arrests of 34-year old Imran Kassim who was planning to head to Syria to team up with his ISIS brethren and Shakirah Begam binte Abdul Wahab, a 23-year old administrative assistant, adds to an increasing cascade of arrests and detentions Singapore authorities have been making since 2015.

Civilians have been advised to be ever more vigilant, especially when news appeared that terrorists once planned to bomb Singapore’s bourse and its seaport. Some three years ago, terror groups operating out of outlying islands close to the city-state had attempted to cripple the nation’s casinos located in the southern fringes of the nation.

Meanwhile it is believed that Kassim was planning to stage attacks on Singapore troops who are helping ward off ISIS attacks in the Middle East. For her part, Shakirah Begum is accused by Singapore’s Home Affairs Ministry of maintaining contact with foreign fighters. The ministry’s writ runs the entire gamut of maintaining law and order to pre-empting moves by terror groups.

The ISD believes that Kassim was radicalised by the violent propaganda of ISIS. He is known to have taken the bai’ah (pledge of allegiance) to ISIS’s self-declared Caliph Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi. 

Though she ceased contacting ISIS fighters sometime last year, Shakirah did ‘continue to keep herself apprised of developments in Syria’, stressed the ministry; actions which the Ministry presumably must have felt worrying enough to sanction her arrest and detention.

Singapore meanwhile announced the release of 54-year old Amiruddin Sawir and 20-year old Harith Jailani from detention under the same laws that netted Kassim and Shakirah. However, they have been served with a Restriction Order (RO), meaning all of their movements will be under constant surveillance. They are also prohibited from travelling overseas.

Under suc an RO, individuals cannot be allowed to make public announcements, address public meetings, or print, distribute, or contribute to any association or to any publication, hold office in, or be a member of any organisation, association or group without the prior approval of the Director of the ISD.

If that amounts to a surrender of one’s civil liberties, the obverse of it all is all about safeguarding the nation, its peoples’ and the safety and security of the nation.

– Jaya Prakash is a Singapore-based security analyst.