Use of English makes Singaporean jihadist a 'prized possession'
The use of English by Singaporean Megat Shahdan Abdul Samad in a recruitment video published by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a matter of concern.
The video surfaced on Sunday and featured 39-year-old Megat Shahdan, under the name of "Abu Uqayl", reportedly attempting to recruit fighters and urging followers to commit violence in this region.
Mr Jasminder Singh, a senior analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), told The New Paper that someone like Megat Shahdan was a "prized possession" for ISIS, due to his ability to converse in English.
ISIS has rarely been able to tap on such a resource. Mr Singh said: "When you have someone speaking English, he is speaking a global language with a wider appeal.
"So as their so-called caliphate crumbles in the Middle East, the group can still try to get their numbers up elsewhere. There is a worry about what the video signifies."
In a statement on Sunday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) revealed that Megat Shahdan, who left Singapore in 2014 to work in the Middle East, was believed to have been radicalised while there.
Mr Remy Mahzam, an associate research fellow also from RSIS, echoed Mr Singh's views.
"If you look at previous ISIS spokesmen (being used for this region), they have had problems speaking English," he said.
"Those from Malaysia speak Malay and those from Indonesia speak Bahasa. English is a universal medium that they can use."
Mr Remy expects ISIS will use what is happening in Myanmar's Rakhine state and conflicts in the region, such as the fighting in the Philippine city of Marawi, as recruitment tools, as the group seeks to bolster numbers after losing ground in Iraq and Syria.
The vice-chairman of the Religious Rehabilitation Group, Dr Mohamed Ali, told TNP that the threat of radicalisation is far-reaching and the ability of terror groups to recruit Singaporeans and use them to spread its message reflects the danger of exclusivist and extremist ideals.
He said: "It can happen to anyone. One of the successes of extremist groups is how they can influence and recruit people from all backgrounds and profiles. Anyone is vulnerable and this is something we must be aware of."