SINGAPORE — A man detained by the authorities since 2016 for actively spreading terrorist ideology online and helping to radicalise at least two Singaporeans was jailed six weeks on Thursday (22 October) for lying in his passport application.
Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, who is an Australian citizen, admitted to making a making a false statement in an online application form for a Singapore passport on 11 December 2013. The 49-year-old had declared that he was not a citizen of another country while applying for his passport.
In fact, he had obtained an Australian passport in 2011. Despite knowing that Singapore does not allow dual citizenships, he did not renounce his Singapore citizenship.
Zulfikar, who has six children, applied for Australian citizenship in 2011 so that his then 15-year-old son could evade his national service liabilities. He previously held a Singapore passport that he was issued with in 2003, but it was valid until 10 November 2013, hence spurring him to re-apply for a Singapore passport in December 2013. He was issued with a new Singapore passport on 2 January 2014.
He continued entering Singapore using his Singapore passport while withholding information about his Australian citizenship. To enter Singapore, Zulfikar would enter Malaysia first then travel to Singapore using his Singapore passport.
In this manner, he managed to enter Singapore on 15 occasions without his dual citizenship being detected.
It was only when Zulfikar arrived in Singapore on 1 July 2016 with his family to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa that he was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for terrorism-related activities. His dual citizenship was then discovered.
Zulfikar has since renounced his Singapore citizenship and ceased to be a Singapore citizen as of 26 August 2020.
His sentence was backdated to 8 October, when he was charged and remanded.
Zulfikar’s lawyer Lock Zhi Yong stated that his client was remorseful and had pleaded guilty at the first instance.
Noting that his client has been held in Singapore for four years, the lawyer said Zulfikar’s family back in Australia has been struggling to cope with his absence, with his child having to seek professional psychological help to cope with the situation.
Lock sought four to five weeks’ jail for his client, citing Zulfikar’s “substantial loss of liberty” thus far. Zulfikar continues to be detained under the ISA - it is not known when he will be released.
Openly supported ISIS
Zulfikar had openly shown his support for the Islamic State terrorist group and had promoted the group and its violent actions in numerous Facebook posts.
He was arrested in Singapore in July 2016 for “active promotion of terrorism and glorification of the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) online”, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, and was detained under the ISA. He was issued with an Order of Detention for two years then after it emerged that he helped radicalise at least two Singaporeans.
According to MHA, Zulfikar had exhorted Muslims to reject the constitutional, secular, democratic state in favour of the establishment of an Islamic state governed by Syariah law. He believed that violence should be used to achieve this goal if necessary, said the MHA.
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