On 16 March, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced the arrest of 23 year old Singaporean Wang Yuandongyi, who had intentions to join an anti-ISIS Kurdish militia group fighting in Syria.
MHA revealed in a statement that Wang had left Singapore and had begun travelling to Syria earlier this year in January. He left Singapore for a third country, from where he intended to make his way to Turkey and onward to Syria. Wang even brought along pieces of military gear from the Singapore Armed Forces, including his uniform and boots. In the midst of his journey however, he was reported to the Singapore authorities when someone became aware of his intentions, and was then brought from the unnamed country back to Singapore.
In his childhood, Wang had come to Singapore from China. He attended both school and National Service here, and became a Singapore citizen in 2014.
The MHA has stated that Wang was placed under a Restriction Order (RO) for intending to undertake violence in overseas armed conflicts, and is the first ethnic Chinese to be in this position. Under the RO, Wang will be subject to monitoring by the authorities and will also attend psychological counselling sessions.
It was also noted that Wang’s motivations to fight against ISIS were not ideologically-driven. After learning of the Kurds’ plight from online sources last year in November 2015, he began to sympathise with them and look for methods to join their fight against ISIS. Nevertheless, the Singapore government takes tough actions in response to the undertaking of armed violence, as well as the preparation and plans for engaging in violence. This is regardless of the motivation behind such acts.
In the MHA’s press release, a total of four men were revealed to have had intentions to engage in armed conflict overseas, with Wang being one of the four individuals. All four men were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
For the full statement by MHA, click here.