Singapore included in ISIS 'state'

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Terror group's move could embolden fighters to carry out attacks here, analysts warn

Singapore has been identified by supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as part of its "East Asia wilayah" or state, a move analysts said could embolden fighters to carry out attacks here.

The Republic was among the territories singled out on social media as part of the wilayah - a development flagged by senior analyst Jasminder Singh in a paper published by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies last week. The others are Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, southern Thailand, Myanmar and Japan.

"For foreign fighters coming into the region, this gives them an idea of what they will be in for and what the targets are," Mr Singh told The Straits Times yesterday.

He had noticed "chatter on social media" this month singling out countries as part of the wilayah, which could be the first time this has been done.

Other security analysts said this could embolden self-radicalised individuals to carry out attacks here, if they are unable to travel to the Middle East.

The development comes as the terrorism threat facing Singapore is at the highest level in recent years, and the country is seeing a steady trickle of self-radicalised individuals.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said two Singaporean auxiliary police officers were arrested for terrorism-related offences under the Internal Security Act.

One of them, Muhammad Khairul Mohamed, 24, was detained for planning to go to Syria to fight against the Syrian government.

On June 12, MHA had announced that infant care assistant Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, was planning to travel to Syria with her child to become a "martyr's widow", fighting for ISIS.

Dr Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, said the exact territorial boundaries of the wilayah are unconfirmed, as ISIS has not made an official declaration.

But he said it would probably include parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.


In his paper, Mr Singh had discussed the security implications of the ongoing Marawi city siege in Mindanao, where Philippine forces are fighting to retake the city from ISIS-affiliated militants.

Those attacks could "motivate other groups" to carry out similar strikes in the region, he wrote.

Associate Professor Antonio Rappa, who heads the Singapore University of Social Sciences' management and security studies programme, said Singapore should be more worried about attacks by "lone wolves and small groups of terrorists", who could enter the country from Malaysia or Indonesia.

An MHA spokesman told ST that security agencies are watching the situation in Marawi, as developments there could have "serious ramifications" for Singapore's safety and security.

She added that agencies are on the lookout for attempts by militants to use Singapore as a point of transit to go to Marawi and join the insurgency there.

"We will also deal firmly with any Singaporean who attempts to make his or her way to the conflict zones to join in the armed violence," said the spokesman.