DPM Teo: Most Singaporeans radicalised by ISIS under 30

DPM and Coordinating Minister for National Security Mr. Teo Chee Hean urged family members to seek help early if they know their loved ones are being radicalised.


SINGAPORE – Most Singaporeans radicalised by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were below 30 years old with five of them radicalised when they were just teenagers, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Teo Chee Hean, revealed on June 14.

Speaking during an iftar or breaking fast session organised by the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) and Khadijah Mosque, he emphasised the important role that family and friends can play in helping their loved ones seek help early.

His comments came two days after the Government announced that a woman had been detained earlier this month under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for radicalism. Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, a contract infant care assistant at a PCF Sparkletots pre-school, had begun to be radicalised by online propaganda in 2013. Her family tried to advise her but did not inform authorities.

“We need to teach our people, especially the youths, that if they have questions about Islam, they should seek answers from the imams and asatizah accredited under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS), and not search on the Internet in a haphazard and unguided way,”

– Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Coordinating Minister for National Security

Also present at the event, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim acknowledged that it was impossible for the authorities to block access to every undesirable website. He has also asked the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) to look into ways to reach out to younger Muslims.

“At the same time we recognise that there are lots of young groups emerging, led by young asatizahs, and they can play an effective role in reaching out to young people who are troubled and need some help,” said Dr. Yaacob.

DPM Teo also highlighted the steps that the Muslim community has taken to counter radical propaganda such as the vetting and compulsory registration of all religious teachers through the ARS.

The ARS requires Islamic religious teachers to complete 30 hours of modules under MUIS. This training ensures Islamic religious teachers are equipped with proper qualifications and strongly understand Singapore’s multi racial and ethnic composition in order to teach in the country.

DPM Teo noted that the terror threat facing Singapore is at its highest level since 2001 and surmised that other terror groups could continue to push out extremist propaganda even if ISIS was defeated.

So far 15 people have been detained or given restriction orders, under the ISA which monitors an individual’s whereabouts.

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