2 S'poreans arrested under ISA for terror-related acts: Man tried to join ISIS

Hariz Baharudin
The New Paper
Sep 8, 2017

He wanted to attack Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel deployed in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS or use them as hostages to demand ransom from the Government.

Imran Kassim had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and tried twice to join the terror group.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the 34-year-old managing director of a logistics company was one of two radicalised Singaporeans arrested in July under the Internal Security Act for terror-related activities.

In a statement, MHA said Imran was issued an Order of Detention for trying to engage in armed violence overseas.

Administrative assistant Shakirah Begam Abdul Wahab, 23, was given a Restriction Order (RO) for initiating and maintaining contact with foreign terrorist fighters.

MHA said Imran was radicalised by ISIS' violent propaganda. His extremist views alarmed those close to him, who reported him to the authorities.

While overseeing his firm's delivery of humanitarian aid to a refugee camp in Syria in February 2014, he tried to make his way to join ISIS but was unsuccessful, said MHA.

The following March, he tried to enter Syria to join ISIS through a pro-ISIS foreign contact, but he did not get a reply.

In between the two attempts, he took the "bai'ah (pledge of allegiance)" to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in July 2014.

"He has admitted that he was prepared to attack SAF personnel deployed in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS or hold them as hostages to demand ransom from the Singapore Government, which he intended to channel to ISIS to boost the terrorist group's finances," MHA said.

Imran also wanted to join the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters trying to establish an Islamic state in southern Philippines. And since May this year, he had intended to join pro-ISIS militants fighting in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.

MHA said Imran was actively gathering support for ISIS on social media, using different accounts and various personas to share pro-ISIS materials. He also tried unsuccessfully to spread his views to his friends.

Shakirah's terror links date back to 2013, when she contacted ISIS fighters in the Middle East after reading about the Syrian conflict.

She reached out to a foreign fighter on social media, then expanded her network to several other fighters, before breaking off ties with them early last year.

MHA said Shakirah kept in touch with them because she "enjoyed their attention, and not because she had been deeply radicalised by the violent propaganda of ISIS".

But she "demonstrated a propensity to engage in risky behaviour", making her vulnerable to influence and recruitment by terrorists. Hence, she was put on an RO to limit her activities and movements.

News of the arrests comes two months after three Singaporeans were detained for terror-related offences.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said the latest arrests were a reminder to remain vigilant and be cautious with extremist propaganda.

Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, Muis's director of religious policy and development, said the council is strengthening the capabilities of its religious teachers in countering the reach of militant groups such as ISIS.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said that hearing news of Singaporeans being radicalised is "always disheartening".

Dr Yaacob wrote on Facebook: "Those close to Imran had come forward to seek help and guidance when he tried to influence them. This is the right thing to do."

Religious Rehabilitation Group vice-chairman Mohamed Ali said Imran's arrest showed how crucial it is for loved ones to report suspected radicalised individuals.

He said they are the first line of defence because they "can detect how someone has changed in terms of behaviour or thinking".

"While it is difficult, reporting their loved ones could save not just other people from getting hurt, but it could rescue the individual too," he said.