Singaporean detained under ISA for his involvement in Yemen civil war

A Singaporean man has been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for being actively involved in the civil war in Yemen and for working as a paid agent for a foreign power while he was there, said the Internal Security Department (ISD) yesterday.

In doing so, Sheik Heikel Khalid Bafana, 48, who was detained in March last year, acted in a manner prejudicial to Singapore's security and interests, the agency said in a statement.

ISD did not provide details on which faction he backed or the foreign country he had worked for, citing operational reasons.

ISD also said it did not disclose Heikel's case earlier as investigations into his activities in Yemen were complex, and doing so would have jeopardised ongoing investigations.

ISD said it was publicising Heikel's case now "to underline Singapore's stern stand against anyone who supports, promotes, undertakes, or makes preparations to undertake armed violence".

Heikel, a trained lawyer, migrated to Yemen with his family around 2008 and ran a consultancy that advised foreign companies on security risks and business opportunities.

ISD said he assisted one of the warring factions and volunteered to fight alongside it.

He also acted as a broker between this faction and the foreign power and sought to secure military equipment, supplies and funds to conduct military training.

Heikel also collected intelligence on Yemen for this foreign power from around 2012 to 2018, for which he was paid "substantial amounts", said ISD, adding that his dealings with the foreign power were clandestine.

Heikel was arrested under the ISA after he and his family returned to Singapore on Feb 5 last year. His family members have not been implicated in his activities in Yemen, added ISD.

Yesterday, ISD also gave an update on radicalised Bangladeshi construction worker Ahmed Faysal, 26, who had disseminated radical propaganda and bought foldable knives for attacks against Hindu police officers back home.

His arrest was announced last month and yesterday, ISD said he was issued with a detention order on Nov 30 to facilitate ongoing investigations into his terrorism-related activities.

Yesterday, ISD also announced that three Singaporeans previously detained under the ISA have been released and placed on restriction orders (ROs) that limit their activities.

ROs for another five were allowed to lapse as they had shown good progress in rehabilitation.