Arrest not inevitable when reporting suspected radicalised persons
Approaching agencies to help radicalised individuals is the way forward
Reporting radicalised loved ones can actually "save" them, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Home Team Academy Workplan Seminar yesterday, Mr Shanmugam said: "You are saving them by approaching the agencies.
"Agencies will work with the family and experts - if it is religious, religious experts or counsellors - to get the person on the right path."
He was commenting on the case of Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, who this month became the first woman here detained for radicalism. Her parents did not report her to the authorities when they learnt of her leanings towards the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Mr Shanmugam added: "The family may or may not be in the position to help. Often, experts are, and that has happened in the past - you are in fact helping the person."When you report someone suspected of being radicalised to the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), it does not mean that person will be arrested, said the group's vice-president, Dr Mohamed Ali.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Dr Mohamed said reporting your relative might be tough, but it should be done because it actually helps them.
He said: "Parents, family members and friends can come to us if they are concerned about the actions of an individual. We are here to help, and not every case that gets reported to us will lead to an arrest."
He said that when the group receives a report, they interview the individual involved and his immediate family and caretakers to assess the situation.
The family may or may not be in the position to help. Often, experts are...Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam
Detention happens only if the radicalisation discovered has been deeply entrenched.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said that if no indication of radicalisation is detected, no further action would be taken.
But the ministry warned that it would not hesitate to use the Internal Security Act against radicalised individuals.
Dr Mohamed said that in the case of Izzah, an infant care assistant at a preschool, early reporting could have prevented her from getting arrested.
He said: "If not stopped early, that is how the radicalisation escalates. She could have even spread her ideology to others."
He said the RRG had heard from several parents whose teenage children had displayed support for ISIS by visiting its website or seeking out online material. The teenagers attended counselling and were found to be confused, but they understood why their previous convictions were wrong, and no arrests were made.
"Through the guidance we provide, people can clarify their doubts and understand before it gets too late," said Dr Mohamed.
We are here to help, and not every case that gets reported to us will lead to an arrest.Dr Mohamed Ali
Dr Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, said Singapore has one of the most advanced programmes for rehabilitation of operational terrorists and extremist supporters.
"With early intervention, counselling in a community setting can be organised. With late intervention, most cases become complex and require detention and counselling in a custodial setting," he said.
The RRG was formally set up in 2003, after the crackdown on the Jemaah Islamiah network here.
It has extended its outreach to the wider community to prevent them from falling under the influence of extremist terrorist ideology.
In 2014, it opened its own resource and counselling centre in Geylang.
For enquiries, call its helpline at 1800-7747747 or use its mobile app.