SINGAPORE — A self-radicalised 15-year-old student, who envisioned beheading non-Muslims and becoming a suicide bomber, has been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
The Secondary 3 student is the youngest person to be charged under the ISA for terrorism-related activities.
The Internal Security Department (ISD) said in a media release on Tuesday (21 February) that the teenager is one of two youths who have been dealt with under the ISA.
The other is a 16-year-old Secondary 4 student who is under a restriction order, which prevents him from making public statements and restricts his movements.
Since the teenagers are both under 18, they cannot be identified.
Both youths were in contact with previous self-radicalised teenager
Although the two youths became self-radicalised separately, they were in contact with Muhammad Irfan Danyal Mohamad Nor, 18, who was arrested in December last year after making threats to target Coney Island and declare it a wilayat (province) of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
ISD said that the trio had met through the same extremist social media channel.
The 15-year-old student self-radicalised early last year after discovering podcasts by foreign segregationist preacher Ismail Menk. The Zimbabwean Salafi preacher has been banned from preaching in Singapore since 2015, due to his segregationist teachings that promote religious strife.
“(The 15-year-old) was exposed to violent militant content, including ISIS propaganda, and engaged in discussions with foreign personas who influenced him with their extremist beliefs,” ISD said in its media release.
After becoming convinced that violence against “disbelievers” was permissible, the teenager became deeply radicalised by mid-2022. His view of “disbelievers” included Shia and Sufi Muslims, as well as non-Muslims, and regarding ISIS’ killing of Shia Muslims and Yazidis as “justified”
ISD said the student harboured a strong desire to live in an Islamic caliphate governed by Syariah or Islamic law. The teen had also considered travelling to Afghanistan for this purpose, but had yet to undertake any preparations prior to his arrest.
The student also supported Al-Qaeda and idolised Osama bin Laden, whom he regarded as a “defender of Islam”.
Besides sharing videos of the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda with his classmates, the teenager also attempted to convince two foreign online contacts to join him in committing armed violence. According to ISD, He failed to radicalise those he contacted.
16-year-old boy became self-radicalised by ISIS propaganda
In the case of the other radicalised teenager, the 16-year-old student had become self-radicalised by ISIS propaganda, believing armed violence is the best way to establish an Islamic caliphate.
ISD said their investigations revealed he was interested in far-right extremist content, including anti-Semitic content and support for neo-Nazi groups whose ideologies promoted a “race war”.
Despite being advised by ISD to steer clear of extremist content online, the youth continued to view Islamic State materials and engage in discussions about the group with other social media users.
The boy then joined multiple Islamic State-themed servers using Roblox’s online gaming platform. In the virtual game settings, players could play in conflict zones affected by Islamic State, such as the city of Marawi in the Southern Philippines.
The ISD said he acted as a “spokesperson” and “chief propagandist” for his in-game Islamic State faction and that his support of the group in Roblox, such as shooting and killing “enemies” in the game, which reflected his desire to be a real-life member.
Between late 2021 and early 2022, he also uploaded three propaganda videos to social media to show his support for the Islamic State using his Roblox game footage.
Both youths to undergo a rehabilitation program
As part of its rehabilitation program, ISD provides religious, psychological and social rehabilitation to detainees and RO (restriction order) supervisees.
Two religious counsellors will provide intensive religious counselling to the 15-year-old detainee to clear up religious misconceptions that led to his support for Al-Qaeda and armed violence.
It is expected that the 16-year-old student will undergo the same religious counselling and be enrolled in the Religious Rehabilitation Group’s Resource and Counselling Centre for a seminar designed to improve his understanding of “Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious context.”
ISD added that case officers would also regularly guide and assess youths’ rehabilitation progress.
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