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S'pore to join coalition in fight against ISIS

Singapore will join a 33-country multinational coalition to combat the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament yesterday.

No SAF soldiers will see combat against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. They will operate from surrounding countries with other coalition forces, he added.

"There will be risks to our SAF servicemen as they carry out their missions. To mitigate these risks, we will ensure that they are well equipped, and receive additional training in weapon handling and against improvised explosive devices and other hostile elements," said Dr Ng.

In a statement yesterday, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean said "Singapore needs to play its part and support international efforts to contain the threat posed by ISIS".

Deputy Prime Minister Teo also said the Government has taken actions to strengthen community bonds and to counter extremist ideology to help prevent Singaporeans from becoming radicalised.

"It is heartening to see how all communities have worked with and supported one another," he said.

"Our Malay-Muslim community in particular has taken a firm stance against the violent actions of ISIS, and taken proactive steps to counter the extremist ideology, and to help all those who are suffering from violence in the Middle East."

THREAT

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said in a Facebook post that ISIS' terrorist activities pose a threat to all Singaporeans, regardless of race or religion.

"Our decision to be part of the multinational coalition against ISIS is primarily to protect Singapore and Singaporeans," wrote Dr Yaacob, who is in Egypt on a visit with officials from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).

He added that terrorist groups, though based far away in foreign countries, can "pose a security threat to us through their efforts to export terrorism to this region. We cannot be complacent".

But this move against ISIS cannot be interpreted as an act against Islam or Muslims because ISIS is not Islamic, he added.

Wrote Dr Yaacob: "The Mufti, the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association and the Religious and Rehabilitation Group have joined international Muslim scholars and leaders in condemning ISIS unequivocally.

"They have all declared that ISIS' radical teachings and actions have nothing to do with Islam. Islam upholds peace, the preservation of human life and its sanctity, and it is thus forbidden in Islam to wage war wantonly on others."

Muis, Malay/Muslim organisations, community leaders and the Government have worked hard together for many years to combat radical teachings that abuse the name of Islam, added Dr Yaacob.

"I strongly urge all communities to continue to work together so that our people are more informed, understand each other better, and are not easily swayed by inaccurate or provocative foreign or social media reporting.

"This way, we will emerge stronger as Singaporeans, united in our common goal for peace, understanding and harmony."

Singapore needs to play its part and support international efforts to contain the threat posed by ISIS.

- Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean