Singaporean, 16, inspired by Christchurch attacks detained under ISA for planning attacks on 2 mosques

·Editorial Team
·4-min read
The Carousell listing (left) of the machete that the youth had intended to purchase for his attacks and the tactical vest (right) that he bought online for the same purpose. (PHOTOS: MHA)
The Carousell listing (left) of the machete that the youth had intended to purchase for his attacks and the tactical vest (right) that he bought online for the same purpose. (PHOTOS: MHA)

SINGAPORE — A 16-year-old Singaporean male has become the first person in the country inspired by far-right extremist ideology to be detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), said the Internal Security Department (ISD) on Wednesday (27 January).

A Christian of Indian ethnicity, the Protestant was found to have made detailed plans to stage a machete attack on Muslims at two mosques in Singapore. He had decided on the machete as his weapon of choice after contemplating various options such as buying a rifle online or making a Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) bomb.

A secondary school student at the time of his arrest in December 2020, he had already identified his machete of choice on Carousell, but had not yet purchased it.

He had also considered setting fire to the mosques with gasoline, in imitation of Brenton Tarrant, the white supremacist who killed 51 people in the 15 March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings.

The teenager, who was not named, is the youngest individual to date to be dealt with under the ISA for terrorism-related activities. He was self-radicalised and motivated by a strong antipathy towards Islam and a fascination with violence, said the ISD.

Inspired by Christchurch attacks

The 16-year-old watched the livestreamed video of the Christchurch attacks and read Tarrant’s manifesto. He also watched Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) propaganda videos and concluded that Islam called on its followers to kill non-believers.

It was clear from his plans, said the ISD, that the youth was inspired by the Christchurch attacker. Firstly, he planned to carry out the attacks on 15 March, the anniversary of the Christchurch attacks. He chose Assyafaah Mosque and Yusof Ishak Mosque as his targets, because they were near his home. He even went so far as to conduct online reconnaissance and research on both mosques.

Secondly, like Tarrant, he intended to drive between the two attack sites, and devised a plan to procure a vehicle for use during the attack.

Thirdly, he bought a tactical vest online, which he intended to adorn with right-wing extremist symbols, and modify it so that he could strap on his mobile device to livestream the attack, just like Tarrant.

In preparation for the attack, the youth had watched YouTube videos and was confident that he would be able to “hit the arteries of his targets by randomly slashing at the neck and chest areas”, said the ISD.

Written manifesto

Just like Tarrant, he prepared two documents which he intended to disseminate before the attacks.

The first was a message to the people of France, which he drafted after the attack on a church in Nice, France on 29 October 2020. The youth called on the French people to “stand up for what is right”, claiming that “we cannot let them (Muslims) lurk in our bushes and wait for them to attack”. He added that his intended attacks were a “massacre”, an “act of vengeance” and a “call for war” against Islam.

The second document, which had not been completed at the time of his arrest, detailed his hatred for Islam and borrowed heavily from Tarrant’s manifesto. He declared that the gunman was a “saint” and called the Christchurch attacks a “justifiable killing of Muslims”. The youth also hoped that his “act of extremism or some would call a justifiable act of violence...would cause a change in those who believe that Islamic extremism is right”.

The ISD said, “The detailed planning...attests to the youth’s determination to follow through with his attack plan.” During the investigation, he even admitted that he could only foresee either of two outcomes: being arrested before he could carry out his plans, or executing the plan and then being killed by the police.

Lone wolf

To date, investigations indicate that the youth acted alone, and did not attempt to influence anyone with his extremist outlook or involve others in his 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 ISD urged Singaporeans to report to the authorities if anyone around them may have been radicalised, in order to avert a tragedy. Anyone with information in this regard can contact the ISD Counter-Terrorism Centre at 1800-2626-473.

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