SINGAPORE — A 48-year-old Singaporean was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) since March 2019 for being actively involved in the civil war in Yemen.
In a media release on Wednesday (9 December), the Internal Security Department (ISD) said that Sheik Heikel Khalid Bafana had migrated to Yemen with his family around 2008, and ran a consultancy which advised foreign companies on security risks and business opportunities.
While in Yemen, he assisted one of the factions in the civil war, and volunteered to take up arms and fight alongside this faction.
He also acted as a broker between this faction and a foreign power, in an effort to secure military equipment, supplies and funds to conduct military training.
Separately, from around 2012 to 2018, Heikel collected intelligence on Yemen for the foreign power, for which he was paid substantial amounts. ISD said his dealings with the foreign power were clandestine in nature.
Stayed on in Yemen while Singaporeans were evacuated
Even as the security situation in Yemen deteriorated after 2011, Heikel stayed on while other Singaporeans were evacuated.
He and his family eventually returned to Singapore on 5 February 2019, where he was arrested under the ISA. His family members have not been implicated in his activities in Yemen.
“Heikel’s case was not disclosed earlier because investigations into his activities in Yemen were complex, and earlier disclosure would have jeopardised ongoing investigations,” ISD said in the media release.
ISD added that it is publicising his case now to underline Singapore’s stern stand against anyone who supports, promotes, undertakes or makes preparations to undertake armed violence.
“Regardless of how they rationalise such violence ideologically, or where the violence takes place, such a person has demonstrated a dangerous tendency to support the use of violence. Heikel compounded this by serving the interests of a foreign power for financial gain,” it said.
“By involving himself in a foreign armed conflict and working as a paid agent of a foreign power, Heikel has acted in a manner prejudicial to Singapore’s security and interests.”
Order of Detention under ISA to Bangladeshi
Meanwhile, ISD has issued an Order of Detention under ISA to Ahmed Faysal, a 26-year-old Bangladeshi who was arrested in November this year, to facilitate ongoing investigations into his terrorism-related activities.
Faysal, who had been working as a construction worker in Singapore since early 2017, donated funds to a Syria-based militant group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) on the understanding that his donations would benefit the HTS’ cause in Syria.
He had also actively shared propaganda promoting armed violence on social media using accounts created under fictitious names. Apart from ISIS and HTS, he had also expressed support for other terrorist groups including the Al-Qaeda and Somalia-based Al-Shabaab.
3 Singaporeans placed on Restriction Order
ISD said in its media release that three Singaporeans who were detained under the ISA for involvement in terrorism-related activities have been released and placed on a Restriction Order (RO).
Muhammad Fadil Abdul Hamid, 31, Husaini Ismail, 61, and Rosli Hamzah, 54, have shown good progress in their rehabilitation and were assessed to no longer pose a security threat requiring preventive detention.
Fadli was previously detained under the ISA from 2010 to 2012 as he had the intention to engage in armed violence in Afghanistan.
He was released from detention in 2012 and placed on a RO, but was re-detained in April 2016, as investigations showed that he had reverted to the belief that militant jihad was the easiest way to achieve martyrdom and harboured the intention to fight alongside ISIS or other militant groups in Syria.
Husaini was a former Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) member who was detained under the ISA in June 2012 following his deportation to Singapore from Indonesia. He had fled Singapore in the wake of the security operations against the JI network in December 2001, and was involved in the plot to hijack an airplane and crash it into Changi Airport in January 2002.
Rosli was detained under the ISA in August 2016 for harbouring the intention to travel to Syria to fight alongside ISIS.
Restriction Orders against 5 Singaporeans to lapse
ISD has also allowed the ROs issued against five Singaporeans to lapse upon their expiry, as they had shown good progress in their rehabilitation. They are:
Mohamed Mohideen Mohamed Jais, 30, who had performed armed sentry duties in Yemen while pursuing religious studies there from 2009 to 2011.
an unnamed Singaporean ISIS supporter who was 17 years old in July 2016 when he was issued with a RO.
Mohamad Reiney Noor Mohd, 30, a self-radicalised individual who started supporting ISIS after coming across ISIS propaganda online.
Asrul Alias, 37, a self-radicalised individual who actively searched for pro-ISIS materials online and shared them on Facebook and WhatsApp with the intention to spread ISIS’s ideology.
Ishak Mohamed Noohu, 59, a former JI member who had fled Singapore in the wake of the security operations against the JI network in December 2001. While on the run, he was involved in the plot to hijack an airplane and crash it into Changi Airport in January 2002.
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