MHA released a statement on Monday (12 June) that a 22-year old Singaporean, Syaikhah Izzah Zahra Al Ansari, has become the first female to be detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
Izzah was self-radicalised by online propaganda from ISIS in 2013. When detained earlier this month, she had plans on travelling to Syria with her child and becoming a “martyr’s widow” for ISIS.
Her parents, both freelance Quranic teachers, and her sister got to know of her radicalisation in 2015. They tried to dissuade her, but did not alert the authorities. Instead, when Izzah was being investigated, “important evidence was destroyed by a family member”, said the MHA.
The father of radicalised woman told the Straits Times that he regretted not reporting her. He advised the public to contact the authorities or the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG)- which helps to counter radical ideology- if they notice suspicious changes in their loved ones.
LESSONS LEARNT: REPORT RADICALISED INDIVIDUALS EARLY
Enlisting the help of religious experts is the best way to keep friends and family members from falling prey to radical ideology, said the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis). Expert help is available from Muis on 6359-1199, or the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) on 1800-7747747 as well as its mobile app.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) urged people to report any individuals at risk of becoming radicalised, stressing that early reporting of individuals could minimise damage. MHA’s response depends on the threat posed to the community. Individuals in the early stages of radicalisation, and assessed to not pose a serious threat, may not be arrested at all. Instead, they would be referred for counselling.
This follows call by Minister K Shanmugam last week, and comes on the back of MHA’s report that the terrorism threat is at its highest in recent years.
The Government takes a serious view of any withholding of information that is crucial to national security and the safety of Singaporeans. It is especially stern in cases where the “failure to report leads to violent activities that could kill or cause harm to others”, said the MHA in a statement.
Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim expressed on their respective Facebook pages that Singaporeans cannot let this incident undermine the trust built up within the community or let it divide them.
MHA stressed that while authorities are working hard to keep Singaporeans safe, they cannot do it alone. Should you suspect or know of any person who is radicalised, please call the ISD Counter-Terrorism hotline: 1800-2626-473.
Source: “First woman held under ISA for pro-ISIS activities”, “Govt takes serious view of withholding of key security info”, “Seeking expert help the best way to save loved ones: Muis”, “Response depends on threat posed: MHA”, “Father of radicalised woman regrets not reporting her” (The Straits Times, 13 June 2017)