Singapore is seen as a ‘prize target’ by terrorist groups: Prime Minister Lee
SINGAPORE, May 4 (PTI) As Singapore is seen as a “prize target” by terrorist groups and is regularly mentioned in their propaganda, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has insisted that it cannot relax its defenses against such activities. extreme forces.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) Majula Gallery at the Khadija Mosque in Geylong on Wednesday, Lee said his government was vigilant against terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). ) that is active and still influences and inspires followers worldwide.
“Singapore is seen as a prize target by terrorist groups and is regularly mentioned in their propaganda. Domestically, the number of self-radicalizers has been increasing in recent years,” The Straits Times report quoted Prime Minister Lee as saying, adding that his country was vigilant against terrorist groups.
Since the rise of ISIS in 2015, Singapore has dealt with 49 self-extremists under the Homeland Security Act, he said.
This is more than four times the number of cases from 2007 to 2014.
Of these 49 people, 37 are Singaporeans. Among them are women and many young people.
Eleven were aged 20 or under, five of whom wanted to carry out the attacks in Singapore.
Lee said the government is making every effort to neutralize the threat and steps are being taken to counter extremist ideologies.
“But each of us has a role to play. Our strongest defense against terrorism is our collective vigilance,” he said.
Launched by Prime Minister Lee, the gallery features exhibitions that raise awareness of RRG’s efforts in fighting terrorism and extremism, and propagates the message that Islam is a religion of peace, the statement said.
He said constant vigilance was Singapore’s first line of defense against extremist ideologies, and urged Singaporeans to immediately report those showing signs of radicalization to the authorities.
“We must strengthen the ethnic and religious harmony that we work so hard to protect,” he said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that terrorism and violent extremism use racial and religious biases to instill fear and hatred.
“Our diversity makes our social cohesion particularly vulnerable to this threat. We must do all we can to be united and united among the various ethnic and religious groups in our society,” he said.
He appreciated the contributions of RRG in the fight against terrorism and extremism.
Citing how the Internal Security Department (ISD) busted a JI cell and arrested its members in 2001 after it planned major terror attacks in Singapore, he said it was not enough to detect and prevent terrorist plots.
The source of the danger – serious misinterpretation of Islam – must be tackled, Lee stressed.
“We are grateful to the small number of religious scholars who came forward to counsel and rehabilitate JI members. This is our first attempt at religious rehabilitation of terrorists.
“Religious scholars took a leap of faith by working with the ISD. They were doing the government’s bidding and were branded ‘munabiq’ (hypocrites).
“But they were courageous and determined, convinced that they were doing the right thing to counter religious-based violent extremism. So, they applied pressure,” he said.
This pioneering group of scholars formed the RRG in 2003. It was co-chaired by the late Ustaz Ali Haji Mohammad and the present co-chairman Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan.. The group will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2023.
About 140 Singaporeans have been dealt with by authorities for terrorism-related activities since 2002, with nearly 90 percent making good progress in their rehabilitation and successfully reintegrating into society. PTI GS RUP RUP