Singapore an "attractive target" for terror attack; people urged to be on high alert

Releasing its annual terrorism threat assessment report, the Internal Security Department (ISD) said foreign terrorist fighters may make their way to new conflict zones and hotspots after the pandemic.

PTIUpdated: Wednesday, July 13, 2022, 04:34 PM IST
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The Singapore government on Wednesday urged its citizens to remain on high alert as the city-state is viewed as an "attractive target" for attack by both foreign terrorist groups and self-radicalised lone actors.

Releasing its annual terrorism threat assessment report, the Internal Security Department (ISD) said foreign terrorist fighters may make their way to new conflict zones and hotspots after the pandemic.

The report urged the citizens to remain on high alert as there are terror threats to the country due to the possible increase in terrorists movements after the global ease of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

"Foreign terrorist fighters may make their way to new conflict zones and hotspots, while radicalised individuals may put into action their attack plans conceived during the pandemic," the ISD said.

"Singapore continues to be featured on terrorist propaganda and is viewed as an attractive target for attack by both foreign terrorist groups and self-radicalised lone actors alike," Channel News Asia reported quoting the ISD as saying.

Despite that, ISD said there is currently no specific intelligence of an imminent terrorist attack on Singapore, although it urged people to stay alert to "threats on the horizon".

Singapore is among the nations which have started to ease its travel restrictions that were imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus cases.

The ISD said the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions globally could lead to an increase in terrorist movement and activities.

ISD said the threat of self-radicalisation continues to be the "primary driver" of the domestic terrorism threat in Singapore.

Since 2015, 45 self-radicalised people, comprising 33 Singaporeans and 12 foreigners, have been issued with orders under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

"It is thus important to maintain Singapore's zero-tolerance approach towards extremist rhetoric and hate speech, and to inoculate the wider community against radical ideologies." The "high" terrorist threat remains unchanged from last year's ISD report, which highlighted self-radicalised actors influenced by extremist materials as the main domestic terrorism threat to Singapore.

Externally, ISD said terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) pose a persistent threat with their ability to radicalise and inspire attacks among their followers.

"ISIS continues to pose a significant security threat globally despite its leadership and territorial losses in the core conflict zone," ISD said, pointing to how it appointed a new leader about a month after its former figurehead died during a US raid in February.

The transnational nature of terrorism means that developments further afield, such as those in the Middle East and Afghanistan, can reverberate much closer to home, said the ISD.

"Extremists are adept at opportunistically exploiting such overseas conflicts to promote their radical narratives and recruit supporters by tapping on a diverse range of grievances." Within Southeast Asia, ISIS affiliates are the primary driver of terrorism and pose the most immediate threat through their ability to mount ISIS-inspired attacks, the ISD said.

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