Man, 40, who wanted to fight for caliphate in Syria detained under ISA; Woman, 62, issued Restriction Order

Imran Mahmood, 40, was detained in January under the Internal Security Act. (Photo: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A 40-year-old unemployed Singaporean man who wanted to travel to Syria to fight alongside any group trying to establish a caliphate was detained in January under the Internal Security Act (ISA), the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on Tuesday (25 June).

Separately, a 39-year-old food deliveryman who considered doing something similar, and a 62-year-old female production technician who had online contact with foreigners suspected of involvement in terrorism, were both issued with Restriction Orders in March. The man and woman - who are unrelated to each other - are also Singaporeans.

The detainee, Imran Mahmood, was radicalised in 2013 when he listened to online lectures by foreign preachers, said MHA in a press release. He supported ISIS’ violent objectives and actions.

By the next year, he wanted to live under ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq, and sought for a way to enter Syria.

“He was willing to take up arms to defend or expand ISIS’ territory, and believed that he would achieve martyrdom if he died fighting for ISIS,” added MHA.

Even after ISIS suffered territorial losses in 2017, MHA said Imran “continued to believe that it was his religious duty to fight alongside any group trying to establish a rightful caliphate in Syria... He was also prepared to join militant and terrorist groups involved in the Syrian conflict, namely the Free Syrian Army and Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (an Al-Qaeda aligned faction).”

Restriction Orders for two

The two Singaporeans issued with Restriction Orders under the ISA are Mohamad Fairuz Junaidi and Rasidah Mazlan.

Fairuz considered travelling to Syria to join ISIS, said MHA. “Fairuz was emotionally affected by reports on the killing of Sunni Muslims in the Syrian civil war. He considered travelling to Syria to join ISIS and was prepared to take up arms and fight alongside ISIS.”

However, he began to doubt ISIS’ legitimacy in 2017 after reading negative reports about the terrorist group on social media and was swayed by criticisms against ISIS. MHA said he will undergo “counselling/rehabilitation” under the Restriction Order.

Rasidah was in touch with “multiple foreign entities suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activities, including individuals who had expressed support for ISIS,” said MHA.

“Investigations showed that Rasidah’s contacts with these individuals were mainly driven by her deep sympathy for Muslims suffering in overseas conflicts. Her indiscriminate online activity rendered her vulnerable to adverse influence and recruitment by terrorist elements who pose a threat to Singapore,” added MHA.

Rasidah will also undergo “counselling/rehabilitation” and will not be allowed to make contact with foreigners suspected of involvement in terrorism.

Release of four detainees

The MHA also said a Restriction Order issued against a then 17-year-old Singaporean expired in June, while four Singaporeans - three men and one women - were released from detention in March and June.

The teenager was issued with the order in June 2015 for supporting ISIS, but “has shown good progress in his rehabilitation”, said MHA. He was not named by the ministry.

The four detainees too “had shown good progress in their rehabilitation” and were assessed to no longer pose a security threat requiring detention.

The four are: Abd Rahim Abdul Rahman, 50, a former member of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group who was detained in March 2012; Asyrani Hussaini, 30, who wanted to join the armed insurgency in Southern Thailand and was detained in March 2013; Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 24, and Muhammad Khairul Mohamed, 26, who were both self-radicalised and wanted to join ISIS in Syria but were detained in June 2017.

‘Community stands united’

Sharing MHA’s press release on his Facebook page, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said he was saddened to hear of Imran, Fairuz and Rasidah’s cases.

“These cases illustrate that there will always be those who are vulnerable to radicalisation and our vigilance against it is a continuing one”, said Masagos.

“We have to stay vigilant and work closely with MUIS (the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore) and the authorities to eradicate this threat.”

Masagos added that the community must help the four former ISA detainees - Abd Rahim, Asyrani, Izzah and Khairul - to reintegrate into society, and to “continue to look out and care for one another”.

“We must not allow the actions of a misguided few to overshadow the achievements of our community. Our Malay/Muslim community stands united and strong with fellow Singaporeans to keep our nation safe and secure,” said Masagos.

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