SINGAPORE — A man detained by the authorities in 2016 for actively spreading radical ideology online and helping to radicalise at least two Singaporeans was charged in court for an immigration offence on Thursday (8 October).
Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, 49, listed as an Australian in court documents, was charged with making a false statement in an online application form for a Singapore passport on 11 December 2013. Zulfikar, listed by the authorities as a Singaporean when he was detained in 2016, allegedly declared that he had not acquired the citizenship of another country at the time of application, his charge sheet stated.
His alleged breach is an offence under the Passports Act.
Zulfikar’s lawyer Lock Zhi Yong said that his client will be “taking a certain course” and asked for a plead guilty date to be fixed in a few weeks. Zulfikar will return to court on 22 October.
As he is detained, bail will not be offered, said an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority prosecutor.
Speaking through an interpreter, Zulfikar said that he thought he would be sentenced today. However District Judge Adam Nakhoda noted that his lawyer had asked for time.
Zulfikar was detained under the Internal Security Act after his arrest in Singapore in July 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement issued at the time. He had been issued with an Order of Detention for two years after it emerged that he helped radicalise at least two Singaporeans.
MHA said then that Zulfikar has openly shown his support for the Islamic State terrorist group and had promoted the group and its violent actions in numerous Facebook posts.
Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to the MHA for comment and a case update.
In a release to other media outlets, the MHA said that Zulfikar had been detained under the ISA since July 2016 for his “active promotion of terrorism and glorification of the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) online.
“Zulfikar had also 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,” noted MHA.
At the time of arrest, Zulfikar had resettled with his family in Australia in 2002 and had held dual citizenship for Singapore and Australia.
While under investigation, he admitted to entering Singapore using his Singapore passport while withholding information on his Australian citizenship.
He also confessed to falsely declaring that he did not hold another country’s citizenship when he applied to renew his Singapore passport in 2013, as he did not want to give up either citizenship.
“Zulfikar has since renounced his Singapore citizenship and ceased to be a Singapore citizen as of 26 August 2020,” said the MHA.
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