SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): A 26-year-old Bangladeshi man was picked up under the Internal Security Act earlier this month for his involvement in terrorism-related activities.
Ahmed Faysal was arrested on Nov 2, and preliminary investigations by the Internal Security Department found he had been radicalised and intended to carry out acts of armed violence in support of his religion, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement on Tuesday (Nov 24).
Faysal, who is Muslim, left Bangladesh for Singapore in early 2017 to work as a construction worker, and became radicalised the following year after absorbing online propaganda on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
He began to create social media accounts under fictitious names to avoid detection, and actively shared material promoting armed violence.
He went a step further and bought foldable knives that he later confessed to the authorities he was planning to use for attacks back home.
The MHA said investigations so far have not indicated that Faysal intended to carry out any acts of violence in Singapore.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam disclosed at a Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) event on Tuesday that Faysal had intended to take the knives back to Bangladesh to carry out attacks against Hindu police officers there.
Shanmugam added that the Commercial Affairs Department is also investigating Faysal for possible terrorism financing offences.
The minister, who was speaking at the 16th annual RRG seminar, disclosed that another 15 Bangladeshis and one Malaysian have been repatriated, following ISD investigations, for stoking anti-France sentiments and making inflammatory comments to incite violence or stoke communal unrest.
The Home Affairs Ministry said Faysal is not linked to the string of attacks that happened in France last month, when a school teacher was beheaded in Paris and three others in Nice were knifed to death, one of whom was beheaded as well.
He was drawn to ISIS' goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate in Syria and wanted to travel there to fight alongside the group against the Syrian government, the ministry's statement added, noting that he believed he would be a martyr if he died while doing so.
In the middle of last year, he shifted his allegiance to Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), another militant group fighting to establish an Islamic caliphate in Syria, the ministry said.
"He donated funds to a Syria-based organisation on the understanding that his donations would benefit the HTS' cause in Syria," it added.
The ministry further said that Faysal had expressed support for other terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda and Somalia-based Al-Shabaab.
He believed that Muslims have a duty to engage in armed jihad, to help fellow Muslims who are oppressed, it noted.
Apart from Syria, he was also willing to travel to Kashmir to fight against the perceived enemies of Islam, and prepared himself for battle by watching firearms-related videos online, it added. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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