27 radicalised Bangladeshis arrested under ISA for terror links
The Internal Security Department (ISD) has arrested 27 radicalised Bangladeshi nationals who were working here in the construction industry, the first time a jihadist terror cell here was made up of foreigners.
A statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the men were detained under the Internal Security Act and arrested between Nov 16 and Dec 1 last year.
Investigations discovered that 26 of the men were part of a secret religious study group that followed radical beliefs and teachings of extremists like Anwar al-Alwaki, and supported the ideology of armed jihad like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The remaining man was not part of the group but was found with jihadi-related material in his possession and in the midst of being radicalised.
The men were unhappy with their home government over actions aimed at several Bangladeshi Islamic groups and leaders, and were being encouraged to return and take up arms against their government.
While some of the men were considering carrying out acts of violence overseas, Singapore was not in their sights for any terrorist attack.
The statement said the group had been meeting since 2013, holding weekly gatherings to discuss armed jihad and conflicts involving Muslims.
The group met at local mosques near to where some of the group members were staying.
The men had worked in Singapore for between two and seven years.
Although all were employed in the construction industry, they were not concentrated in any particular company or workplace, the MHA statement added. Nor were they concentrated in any particular living quarters.
The work passes of the 27 men have since been revoked, with 26 of them repatriated to Bangladesh, where relevant authorities have been informed about their activities.
The remaining man is currently in Singapore serving a 12-week jail term for attempting to leave the island by illegal means upon learning of the detention of his fellow group members. He will be repatriated once his sentence is completed.
The ISD seized a sizable amount of radical and jihadi-related material, including videos that depict children undergoing training at what looks to be a terrorist training camp as well several graphic documents depicting several methods of making "silent kills".
The MHA statement said: "Foreigners are guests of our country and they should not abuse this privilege and use Singapore as a base to import their own domestic political agenda and carry out activities in pursuit of such an agenda."
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim expressed concerned over the arrests.
Writing on his Facebook page, he urged Singaporeans to be vigilant against radical teachings and ideologies as well as against any suspicious activities.
He ended by saying that he hoped that Snigaporeans do not discriminate against foreign workers here.
"The actions of a few cannot determine how we treat others who have worked so hard to build our homes, schools and hospitals."