A Singaporean has been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for actively spreading radical ideology online and helping to radicalise at least two other Singaporeans.
Local media reports, quoting a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) statement, said that 44-year-old Zulfikar Shariff was arrested in Singapore this month.
Zulfikar has been issued with an Order of Detention for two years, according to the statement released Friday (29 July).
The two Singaporeans that he helped to radicalise are security guard Muhammad Shamin Mohamed Sidek, 29, who was detained last July, and businessman Mohamad Saiddhin Abdullah, 33, who was issued with a Restriction Order this month.
The reports said that Zulfikar has been living in Melbourne, Australia, in the past 14 years.
MHA said 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.
Zulfikar came under the spotlight in 2002 for insisting that primary schoolgirls should be allowed to wear the hijab in Singapore national schools. He moved to Melbourne in the same year.
His Facebook profile stated that he is doing his PhD at the La Trobe University. The profile also said that Zulfikar was a former editor of an online portal called Al-Makhazin, a website that aimed to counter Western media.
MHA said Zulfikar had admitted to using the Al-Makhazin Facebook page as a platform to “agitate on Muslim issues in Singapore and attack some Singaporean Muslims who did not share his views”.
He has been inactive on Facebook recently, with his last post dated 25 June 2016.
Minister Yaacob Ibrahim’s comments
MHA said in its statement, “The Government takes a very serious view of efforts to undermine Singapore’s constitutional democracy, and will take firm and decisive action against any person who engages in such activities.”
Minister for Communication and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said that he was “dismayed” by the arrests of the self-radicalised Singaporeans.
“The arrests are a stark reminder that the risks to our society are real and reflect the open and porous nature of the Internet which allows terrorist ideologies to infiltrate,” Yaacob said.
The minister called for Singaporeans to remain vigilant in the war against terrorism and condemn terrorist groups that use violence in the name of Islam. He also called for the Malay/Muslim community to stand united with other Singaporeans to foster racial harmony.