Self-radicalised S’pore teen given restriction order under ISA, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Self-radicalised S’pore teen given restriction order under ISA

A Secondary 4 student who considered himself a white supremacist after being radicalised by online far-right extremist propaganda was handed a restriction order under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in November 2023.

Although he is ethnically Chinese, the 16-year-old aspired to conduct attacks overseas to further the white supremacist cause. He had no plans to conduct any attacks in Singapore.

He is the second Singaporean to be dealt with under the ISA for being radicalised by far-right extremist ideologies, said the Internal Security Department (ISD) on Jan 24. The first youth, now 19, was released from detention in January after close to three years.

For the 16-year-old, the restriction order means he must comply with several conditions. These include not being allowed to change his residence or travel out of Singapore, access the Internet or social media and issue public statements, without the approval of the director of ISD.

“At the point of (the) investigation, he strongly identified as a white supremacist and pro-white sympathiser, and hoped to be recruited for violent attacks by white supremacist groups overseas to ‘fight for the whites’,” said ISD.

Explaining how the 16-year-old became radicalised, ISD said he had chanced upon videos by foreign far-right political commentator and white supremacist Paul Nicholas Miller and was exposed to violent extremist material online in 2022.

Miller advocates for a race war and has been tied to multiple far-right extremist organisations overseas, including the Proud Boys and the Boogaloo movement.

By early 2023, the youth had developed an intense hatred of communities targeted by far-right extremists, including African Americans, Arabs and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals.

He believed African Americans were responsible for a significant percentage of crime in the US, and deserved to “die a horrible death”, said ISD.

The youth also perceived illegal Arab immigrants as having committed violent attacks against white populations in Western countries and subscribed to the Great Replacement Theory commonly referenced by far-right terrorists like Christchurch attacker Brenton Tarrant. The theory propagates that the indigenous white population in Western countries are in danger of being replaced by non-white immigrants.

Such ethno-nationalist beliefs convinced him that non-white communities such as African Americans and Arabs should be driven away from white-majority countries, said ISD.

The youth participated in far-right online chat groups and channels, where he shared violent anti-African American videos, as doing so gave him a sense of belonging to the white supremacist community.

He considered travelling to Western countries such as France, Italy, the US and Russia to participate in attacks against the vilified communities, and also expressed interest in a far-right online chat group to conduct a mass shooting in the US in 10 years’ time. However, ISD said he did not take steps to actualise his attack aspirations beyond searching online for weapons, because he lacked the money and know-how to do so.

The youth had not planned to conduct attacks in Singapore as he felt these communities had not caused trouble here, said ISD.

While on a restriction order, the youth will have to undergo a rehabilitation programme aimed at countering the violent extremist ideologies he had imbibed online. It will help him learn that his racial supremacist views are incompatible with Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society, ISD said.

He will receive counselling by ISD psychologists to address his propensity for violence and the factors that make him vulnerable to radical influences. Such factors include the regulation of his emotions and identity issues, which fuelled his desire to identify as a white supremacist and be part of a like-minded, seemingly powerful group.

ISD case officers will work with his family and school to ensure that he has sufficient support. He has also been assigned two mentors who will provide him with guidance and cyber-wellness skills.

ISD said it is working with partners such as the Inter-Agency Aftercare Group to explore community-based programmes which will equip him with pro-social skills.

With two youths here radicalised by far-right extremist ideology, ISD said there is a need to remain vigilant.

“Far-right ideologies, which often espouse white supremacist, anti-Islam, xenophobic and anti-immigration beliefs, can be adapted to fit the Singaporean landscape. One example is by advocating for the superiority of specific communities, through the lens of cultural, ethnoreligious, or nationalist supremacy,” it added.

ISD said that such divisive rhetoric can create deep societal divides, amplify prejudices, and encourage acts of violence against minorities.

It urged members of the public to be vigilant to signs that others have become radicalised.

These signs include frequently surfing radical websites; posting extremist views on social media platforms; sharing extremist views with friends and relatives; making remarks that promote ill-will or hatred towards people of other races or religions; expressing intent to participate in acts of violence overseas or in Singapore and inciting others to participate in acts of violence.

Those who suspect a person has been radicalised can call the ISD Counter-Terrorism Centre hotline on 1800-2626-473 (1800-2626-ISD).