Self-radicalised Singaporean, 29, detained under ISA; had wanted to take up arms abroad, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Self-radicalised Singaporean, 29, detained under ISA; had wanted to take up arms abroad

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A 29-year-old self-radicalised Singaporean who was prepared to travel overseas to take up arms was detained in April this year under the Internal Security Act.

Radjev Lal Madan Lal, a mover at a logistics company, had been influenced by the teachings of foreign radical preacher Imran Hosein and believed he needed to partake in armed violence against "enemies" of Islam, the Internal Security Department (ISD) said in a release on Tuesday (May 10).

This included practising knifing techniques and at the time of his arrest, he was considering travelling to conflict zones in Afghanistan to join the militant Taliban group.

Radjev tried unsuccessfully to recruit and propagate his ideologies to family, friends and people online.

While he did not have specific attack plans against Singapore, he admitted he was willing to conduct one here or against Singapore's interest overseas, said the ISD.

The department said Radjev started down the path of radicalisation in 2013, after being introduced to the online sermons of Imran Hosein, who is from Trinidad and Tobago, and preached about the supposed imminent "end of times" and the rise of a Muslim "Black Flag Army" (BFA) to do battle with "non-believers".

These resonated with Radjev, who had a keen interest in conspiracy theories, and over time he became deeply radicalised by both Imran and other radical preachers like American Anwar Al-Awlaki, a dead Al-Qaeda ideologue, as well as imprisoned Australian radical Musa Cerantonio.

Imran had been banned from entering Singapore in 2007 due to his radical preachings.

Radjev "became convinced that it was his religious obligation to partake in armed violence with the BFA to kill the 'enemies' of Islam," said the ISD.

"In his view, these 'enemies' included non-Muslims who meddled in Islamic affairs, as well as Western countries like the United States and Israel. He believed that dying as a martyr on the battlefield alongside the BFA would earn him rewards in the afterlife."

Aside from family and friends, Radjev also created a social media group to spread his radical ideology to online contacts. None of his family members or friends in Singapore responded positively to his overtures, said the ISD.

Believing that jihadist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban were all possible manifestations of the BFA, Radjev made plans to travel to Syria and join ISIS.

This was abandoned after Imran, the preacher, disputed that ISIS was the BFA. At the time of his arrest in April, Radjev believed that the Taliban might represent the BFA and was considering travelling to Afghanistan to join the group.

"Radjev did not have any specific attack plans against Singapore, but he admitted that he was willing to conduct an attack in Singapore or against Singapore's interests overseas if instructed to do so by either Imran or the BFA," ISD noted.

The department reiterated that it would take firm action against any individual in Singapore who supports, promotes, undertakes or makes preparations to undertake armed violence, regardless of how they rationalise such violence, or where the violence takes place.

"Radjev's case underscores that Singaporeans are not immune to extremist rhetoric propagated by religious preachers or ideologues, including on online platforms. It is therefore critical to seek advice and guidance from credible local religious authorities and sources," said ISD.

Separately, ISD announced that two self-radicalised Singaporeans were released from detention under the ISA in January and February this year, having shown good progress in their rehabilitation and after being assessed to no longer pose a security threat.

One of them, Hazim Syahmi Mahfoot, 31, was detained under the ISA in January 2019. He had believed that he should undertake armed violence against the perceived enemies of his religion.

The other released detainee, Ruqayyah Ramli, 35, was detained under the ISA in April 2021. She had been radicalised by her husband and supported his intention to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS.