Radicalised man repatriated to M’sia following arrest, investigation by ISA; S’porean wife placed on two-year restriction order

A 33-year-old Malaysian was repatriated to his home country after being arrested and subsequently investigated under Singapore’s Internal Security Act (ISA).

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement on Tuesday (9 Feb) said that Mohd Firdaus bin Kamal Intdzam’s arrest took place in July last year.

His Work Pass was then cancelled, and he was deported to Malaysia after the Internal Security Department (ISD)’s investigations were concluded.

Mohd Firdaus, who previously worked as a cleaner in Singapore, was handed to the Malaysian Special Branch a month later.

According to the MHA, his path to radicalisation began in 2016 when he “turned to the Internet to deepen his religious knowledge” and, in the process, encountered ISIS propaganda online.

“Through sustained exposure to pro-ISIS materials, Firdaus was convinced by early 2018 that ISIS was fighting for Islam, and that its use of violence to create an Islamic caliphate was justified.

“He also regarded ISIS’s self-declared Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (deceased) as the true Islamic ruler,” said MHA.

Even after the collapse of the so-called ISIS “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, Mohd Firdaus “remained a fervent supporter of ISIS”, the Ministry noted, seeing how he had “actively posted materials promoting ISIS and armed jihad on his social media accounts”.

“He even created an ISIS flag in March 2020, which he hung at home to show his loyalty towards the group,” said MHA.

Mohd Firdaus was reportedly of the view that armed jihad was compulsory for all able-bodied Muslim men, to the extent of being willing to “carry out attacks against countries which he deemed to be oppressing Muslims, or which he perceived to be munafiq (hypocrite) for aligning themselves with the West”.

However, MHA noted that ISD’s investigations did not indicate that he had “made any specific attack plans, or intended to mount any acts of violence in Singapore”.

His 34-year-old Singaporean wife, Ruqayyah binti Ramli, was placed on a two-year restriction order under the ISA, which will prevent her from changing her residence or employment or travelling out of Singapore without the prior approval of the Director of ISD.

She is also prohibited from issuing public statements or addressing public meetings, as well as printing, distributing, contributing to any publication without the prior approval of the Director of ISD.

Ruqayyah is also not allowed to hold office in, or being a member of any organisation, association or group without the prior approval of the Director of ISD.

The housewife and part-time freelance religious teacher’s restriction order began in August last year and will last for two years from that point.

Investigations revealed that Ruqayyah was radicalised by her husband after their marriage in December 2018 despite her initial doubts regarding her husband’s pro-ISIS views.

According to MHA, she began to believe that ISIS’s use of violence against perceived oppressors of Islam, including non-Muslims and Shi’ites, was justified.

Ruqayyah also supported Firdaus’ intentions to join ISIS and take up arms in Syria. She was willing to accompany him to Syria, and intended to bring her two children along.

She believed that her role in the conflict zone would be to take care of the family through cooking and housework and to assist other wounded ISIS fighters.

MHA noted, however, that investigations did not surface any indication that Ruqayyah had attempted to spread her pro-ISIS views to others.

Ruqayyah’s Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) accreditation, obtained in September 2017, has been suspended.

Consequently, she is not allowed to conduct religious classes as part of her RO conditions, said MHA.

Ruqayyah is presently undergoing religious counselling to steer her away from her radical path, the Ministry noted.

S’porean youth detained under ISA over alleged plans to attack Muslims at two mosques

Separately, in the string of recent investigations into alleged terrorism activities in Singapore, the ISD last month revealed that a 16-year-old Singaporean was detained in December last year under the ISA for allegedly drawing up “detailed plans and preparations” to attack Muslims at two mosques in Singapore using a machete.

According to the ISD in a statement on 27 Jan, the youth, who is a Protestant Christian of Indian ethnicity, “is the first detainee to be inspired by far-right extremist ideology” and the youngest individual so far to be detained under the ISA for terrorism-related activities.

Brenton Tarrant, the Australian gunman singlehandedly responsible for the Christchurch mosque massacre that took 51 lives in March 2019, had purportedly influenced the youth’s views.

“He had also watched Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) propaganda videos, and came to the erroneous conclusion that ISIS represented Islam, and that Islam called on its followers to kill non-believers,” the ISD explained, in highlighting the youth’s “strong antipathy towards Islam”.

The youth, said ISD, had planned to carry out his attacks on 15 March this year, on the anniversary of the Christchurch attacks.

“He chose Assyafaah Mosque and Yusof Ishak Mosque as his targets, because they were near his home. He conducted online reconnaissance and research on both mosques to prepare for the attack,” the ISD added.

He had also reportedly “bought a tactical vest from an online platform, and intended to adorn the vest with right-wing extremist symbols, and modify it so that he could strap on his mobile device to livestream the attack”, in a bid to replicate Tarrant’s Christchurch attack, said the ISD.

Prior to settling on the machete, the youth had considered using a rifle similar to that used by Tarrant, the ISD noted.

“He managed to find a prospective seller via a private chat platform, but did not follow through with the purchase when he suspected it was a scam.

“He nevertheless persisted to search for firearms online, and only gave up the idea when he realised that it would be difficult to get his hands on one, given Singapore’s strict gun-control laws,” said the ISD.

The youth had also experimented with making a Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) bomb and “mimicking Tarrant’s plan of setting fire to the mosques with gasoline”.

“He eventually dropped both ideas due to logistical and personal safety concerns,” according to the ISD.

Highlighting the isolated nature of the youth’s actions, the ISD said that its investigation did not reveal any attempt at influencing others with his extreme outlook or to involve others in his attack plans.

“His immediate family and others in his social circles were not aware of his attack plans and the depth of his hatred for Islam,” said the ISD.

The youth’s case, said the ISD, “demonstrates yet again that extreme ideas can find resonance among and radicalise Singaporeans, regardless of race or religion”.

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