The Singaporean Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighter who was recently featured in the terrorist group’s propaganda video had tried to recruit his family members after becoming radicalised while in the Middle East for work in 2014.
Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad, 39, who is referred to as Abu Uqayl in the propaganda video, had also been fighting on the frontlines for ISIS, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement released to the media on Tuesday (26 September).
Shahdan is the third Singaporean known to be in Syria, said the MHA. Two others, Singaporeans Haja Fakkurudeen Usman Ali and Maimunah Abdul Kadir, are believed to be still in Syria with their families after having left in 2014.
In its statement, MHA revealed new details about Shahdan, who was depicted in the terrorist group’s propaganda video “Inside the Caliphate” released earlier this week. Shahdan, who left for the Middle East for work in early 2014, dropped out of school at an early age and joined a secret society.
Between 1997 and 2009, Shahdan was in and out of prison for a string of drug and criminal convictions. The MHA said that Shahdan, who worked odd jobs, had not shown any evident signs of being religiously-inclined then, nor any radical tendencies.
After relocating to the Middle East, Shahdan took up several jobs in tourism and renovation and also attempted unsuccessfully to start his own business. Family members who visited him noticed that the Singaporean had become more observant of his religious obligations and was more involved in religious gatherings.
MHA believes that it was in the Middle East that Shahdan became radicalised by ISIS ideology. He also told his family members about his interest to perform jihad.
In September 2014, Shahdan contacted a family member while at the Turkish-Syrian border and said he was on the way to Syria. He asked for prayers for his safe crossing into Syria. Since joining ISIS, Shahdan has fought on its frontlines in Iraq and Syria and had been injured while in combat.
While in Syria and Iraq, Shahdan had tried to influence family members into joining ISIS, telling them that it was a sin to live in an “infidel country”. He told family members that he would intercede for 70 of his relatives should he achieve martyrdom, and exhorted them to support ISIS, said the MHA, adding that no family members have been known to respond to Shahdan’s advances.
The ministry said that the three Singaporean ISIS fighters’ involvement in the conflict overseas jeopardised Singapore’s safety.
“In Shahdan’s case, it is compounded by the fact that he is also actively propagating ISIS’s violent ideology and rallying others to engage in combat in support of ISIS. This is of particular concern as we have seen a spike in the number of self-radicalisation cases following the rise of ISIS and proliferation of its propaganda materials,” said the MHA.
MHA highlighted the importance of family and friends in reporting individuals who are potentially radicalised.
Other Singapore stories: