According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)'s press release issued on Monday (12 June), it has detained the first female Singaporean for radicalism under the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows the state to detain an individual without trial and without a time limit.
It is said that Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, a 22-year-old contract infantcare assistant with the PCF (PAP Community Foundation) Sparkletots preschool programme, was detained in this year's June.
According to MHA, Izzah's radicalisation started in 2013 through online propaganda related to the Islamic State terrorist group.
“She began to believe that ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) represented the true spirit of Islam. Her radicalisation deepened over time,” a press release read. “This was exacerbated by a wide network of foreign online contacts which she developed. They included ISIS militants and supporters, some of whom have either been killed in Syria or arrested for terrorism-related activities.” wrote MHA in its press release.
It is said that Izzah actively posted and shared pro-ISIS material online since 2013. MHA further claims that several of her social media platforms were removed by administrators because of such content, but she created new ones.
MHA also said Izzah was also intent on joining ISIS and was actively planning to make her way to Syria, with her young child, to do so. “She supported ISIS’s use of violence to establish and defend its self-declared ‘caliphate’, and aspired to live in it,” said the ministry. “To this end, she said that since 2015, she was looking for ‘a Salafi or an ISIS supporter’ to marry and settle down with him and her child in Syria.”
“She said she would support her husband if he fought for ISIS in Syria as she believed she would reap ‘heavenly rewards’ if he died in battle. With her ‘elevated status’ as a ‘martyr’s widow’, she felt she could (then) easily marry another ISIS fighter in Syria.”
Izzah allegedly said that she was prepared to undergo military training and engage in armed combat to defend ISIS if called upon by the terrorist group to do so.
MHA claims that Izzah's parents (both freelance Quranic teachers) and sister came to know of her radical postings in 2015 and her intention to join ISIS in Syria. and tried on their own to dissuade her, but were unsuccessful.
The Ministry adds that Izzah continued down the path of radicalism and “boasted” to a contact in April this year that the Singapore authorities had not detected her.
MHA states that it is imperative for family members and Friends to report suspected radicalised Individuals to authorities.
"In Izzah's case, her family members did not bring her to the attention of the authorities when she was younger and could have potentially been turned back from the path of radicalisation. Furthermore, after Izzah was placed under investigation, important evidence was destroyed by a family member relating to her plans to join ISIS, in order to try to minimise her acts." said MHA.
While this is the first female Singaporean arrested for radicalism under ISA, but there have been an increasing number of individuals whom MHA have alleged to be radicalised Muslims and arrested without trial. While some have been released under probation, many still remain detained.