ISIS social media has set Singapore in its sights, says S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies analyst Jasminder Singh.
In his report released this week, Jasminder said ISIS supporters from the region have also targeted the Philippines and the United States as targets.
This report comes just in the wake of a wave of arrests in Malaysia and Singapore. Last month, Malaysian police nabbed a militant cell with explosives targeting buildings in Putrajaya and the federal Parliament.
Meanwhile Singapore’s Home Affairs ministry announced on Wednesday that a 19 year-old Malay student had been arrested for planning to join ISIS and plotting to carry out acts of terror in Singapore, for example by assassinating government leaders or using everyday weapons like knifes to carry out attacks on Singaporeans.
See the earlier report here: www.allsingaporestuff.com/article/pro-isis-teens-kana-isa-plotting-terror-attacks-singapore .
This is not the first time that Singapore has been targeted by radicals. In the previous year, Resurgence, an English-language extremist magazine had describe how militants could make use of the Phillip Channel and Sembawang Naval Base to conduct an attack in Singapore waters.
But threats to Singapore are set to grow as ISIS’ Malay Archipelago combat unit, Katibah Nusanatara, has grown considerably. The unit was formed in Syria last August for Southeast Asian fighters who would like to communicate in Bahasa Indonesia and Malay rather than Arabic. More than 700 fighters from Indonesia and over 200 fighters from Malaysia are now fighting in Iraq and Syria.
Although they make up a small proportion of the 30,000 foreign fighters now in Syria, the unit has shown that it is more than combat ready. Last month, they seized 5 Kurdish-held areas in Syria.
Katibah Nusantara, among other foreign fighter units, is set to gain importance in ISIS as it tries to establish itself as a global caliphate. Returning fighters have been caught trying to undertake attacks in home countries and even set up new extremist branches at home.
“The downward slide of jihadist appeal and success since 2009 has been reversed by Katibah Nusantara’s success in Iraq and Syria,” Jasminder said. He adds that extremists have seized upon local issues such as the push for an Islamic penal code and the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Southeast Asia to win support from their home communities.
Professor Rohan Gunaratna, who heads the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research says that Katibah Nusantara has become a severe threat to Singapore and Southeast Asia.
“It has multiple functions; to train people capable of carrying out attacks in Iraq and Syria, to instigate Southeast Asians to mount attacks in their home countries, and to radicalize Southeast Asians online recruit them and physically facilitate their entry into Iraq and Syria.” Professor Gunaratna said.
The approach to dealing with this threat has to be multipronged, he says, such as engaging the community to understand more about ISIS and its objectives to an online media campaign to expose the evils of the regime.