Singapore

Two sites here named as potential terrorist targets

Singapore targeted by terrorists last year, says the Ministry of Home Affairs

Singapore was "specifically targeted" by terrorists in the past year, with jihadist publications and videos naming two sites as potential targets last October.

This has resulted in the terrorism threat remaining the highest in recent years, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in its first Singapore Terrorism Threat Assessment Report yesterday.

It is understood that the targets mentioned were the SGX Centre and a port.

A spokesman for the Stock Exchange did not confirm that its building was being targeted, but told The New Paper: "SGX takes physical security very seriously and constantly reminds our employees to remain alert and vigilant.

"Over the years, we have stepped up our security measures and are in close contact with our regulator and relevant government agencies."

MHA also said security agencies had worked with the two sites to tighten security measures.

The lone-wolf vehicle attacks in London, Nice and Berlin showed that individuals can carry out operations wherever they are. NTU Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna

While there has been no credible intelligence of an imminent attack, MHA said security agencies remain on "high vigilance" because of the "heightened" regional threat.

"The public should continue to stay alert and be prepared," it added.

MHA said the most serious threat comes from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its affiliates.

With at least two known ISIS plots to attack Singapore,MHA said: "ISIS has demonstrated that Singapore is very much on its radar."

There is also the risk of attacks by those influenced by ISIS propaganda, with the authorities dealing with radicalised Singaporeans and foreigners in recent years.

The report called radicalised individuals "a grave security concern" as attacks using vehicles and knives can happen anywhere.

Nanyang Technological University Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna, coordinator of the National Security Studies Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), said: "The lone-wolf vehicle attacks in London, Nice and Berlin showed that individuals can carry out operations wherever they are.

"If you can drive a truck or a car, lives can be lost.

"These are relatively low tech methods that authorities must pay attention to."

Another concern for MHA is the release of about 200 terrorist prisoners in the region over the next two years. "They may return to terrorism if they have not been de-radicalised," it said.

An MHA spokesman said: "Through this report, we hope Singaporeans will better appreciate the seriousness of the terrorism threat, and to be alert and prepared in the event of an attack."

The ministry will issue further reports when necessary.

Dr Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at RSIS, said: "Dynamic security measures, which involve constant changes, are the best form of security because terrorists are constantly surveying and can predict routine security measures."

Mr Gregory Tan, 57, a consultant at BSG Communications, said: "While the Government has prepared us well mentally with practices and rehearsals, nothing can prepare us for the loss of lives, the trauma and the damage caused when it does happen."

tnp@sph.com.sg

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