Self-radicalised Singaporean who planned to attack Jews released on restriction order
A self-radicalised Singaporean detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 2021 for planning a knife attack on Jews was released on a restriction order in March 2023, said the Internal Security Department (ISD) on Wednesday.
Amirull Ali, who was a 20-year-old full-time national serviceman in the Singapore Armed Forces when he was arrested in February 2021, had planned to target three Jewish men at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Waterloo Street.
Amirull had also made plans to travel to Gaza to join the military wing of Palestine’s ruling faction Hamas – called the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades – in its fight against Israel.
He was detained in March 2021 under the ISA.
“Amirull has responded well to his rehabilitation, with the extensive support of the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), as well as his family, who visited him weekly during his detention and was a source of constant encouragement,” said ISD.
“Given the good progress he has made in his rehabilitation, Amirull was released on a restriction order in March 2023.”
People under a restriction order must abide by several conditions and restrictions.
For example, the person may not change his or her residence or employment, or travel out of Singapore without official approval. He or she also cannot access the Internet or social media, or issue public statements or join organisations without the authorities’ approval.
As part of rehabilitation efforts, an RRG counsellor met him monthly, according to ISD.
“The counsellor helped Amirull to improve his religious knowledge, and to embrace a pro-social understanding of Islamic principles,” said the agency in a press statement.
It added: “As a result, Amirull has renounced his radical beliefs in armed jihad and the use of violence. He now sees jihad as caring for his parents, improving himself and contributing to society.
“He also understands the importance of living harmoniously with people of other races and religions in Singapore, and to verify any religious information that he is unsure about with locally accredited religious teachers and scholars.”
Besides religious counselling, Amirull also worked with ISD case officers and a psychologist, according to ISD.
“Through the interactions, he has come to understand that while one may sympathise with the plight of people caught in the crosshairs of a conflict such as that between Israel and Palestine, we should never resort to or advocate violence as a solution,” said ISD.
It added that psychological counselling sessions also helped Amirull strengthen his critical thinking and emotion regulation skills, which will reduce his vulnerability to radical influences.
“His inability to critically evaluate information which he came across on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and his tendency to overreact emotionally to the plight of oppressed Muslims, had contributed to his radicalisation in the first place,” said the agency.
While in detention, Amirull was given access to educational and self-improvement materials such as videos and articles and accompanying worksheets, following which he discussed what he learnt with the psychologist.
An RRG volunteer also provided him with weekly English lessons, as Amirull plans to pursue further studies at a post-secondary institution.
“ISD will continue to work with RRG and the Inter-Agency Aftercare Group to ease his reintegration into society,” said the agency.