Terrorist activity may increase as COVID-19 travel restrictions are eased; the threat is still high in Singapore: ISD
ISIS CONTINUES TO BEAR THE “IMPORTANT” THREAT
Externally, the ISD said terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) pose an ongoing threat to their ability to radicalize and inspire attacks on their followers.
“ISIS continues to pose a major security threat around the world despite its leadership and territorial losses in the core conflict zone,” the ISD said, pointing out how it appointed a new leader about a month after the former died. its figurehead in a US invasion in February.
Within Southeast Asia, ISIS affiliates are the main driver of terrorism and pose an immediate threat through their ability to intensify ISIS-inspired attacks, the ISD said.
Pro-ISIS militant factions in the southern Philippines continue to engage with security forces in insurgent-style armed clashes, while elements of the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah aligned with ISIS in Indonesia have remained active in plotting attacks. attack, it said.
“Over the past year, the number and scale of ISIS-linked or inspired terror attacks and plots in Southeast Asia have dropped, largely due to strong counter-terrorism measures and COVID-19 travel restrictions,” he said. said the ISD.
“Since travel restrictions around the world are being lifted, it’s probably only temporary.”
Terrorist elements could become “more active and revisit blocked plots” as restrictions are eased and cross-border travel resumed.
In the region, ISIS’s violent ideology continues to reflect radical Islamists, fueled by a thriving pro-ISIS ecosystem on social media, the ISD said.
The department explained that these online networks allow individuals in the region to coordinate terrorist activities across physical borders and exchange operational expertise, such as in the manufacture of weapons.
“As travel restrictions loosen, online collaboration between extremists could show up as attacks in the real world,” it said.
“As a result, the region faces an increased risk of ISIS-inspired attacks carried out by extremists who grew up at home, acting alone or in small groups.”
In the West, however, the ISD believes the threat from far-right extremism is “overshadowed by Islamic terrorism”.
The ISD cited recent mass shootings in the US in which two armed men killed 33 people in supermarkets, showing they seemed to be inspired by Brenton Tarrant, the white supremacist who killed 51 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019.
“Worldwide, the Russia-Ukraine conflict could serve as a rallying point for the most right-wing elements of extremism, which have shown interest in the Russia-Ukraine conflict since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014,” the ISD said. .
The ISD cited reports that about 20,000 volunteers – probably including the most right -wing elements of extremism – had responded to Ukraine’s invitation to join its international legion, and some western countries had contributed “ significant cache “of weapons in the defense of Ukraine.
“Foreign fighters aligned with Far-right extremism and the proliferation of excessive weapons are likely products of a protracted conflict in Ukraine,” the ISD added.
SELF-RADICALLIZATION THREAT IN SINGAPORE
In Singapore, the ISD said the threat of self-radicalization continues to be the “main driver” of the domestic terrorism threat.
Since 2015, 45 self-radicalized people, comprising 33 Singaporeans and 12 foreigners, have been issued orders under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
The ISD cited the latest case of 29-year-old Singaporean Radjev Lal Madan Lal, who was detained under ISA in April.
Radjev was introduced in 2013 to the online sermons of a radical preacher from Trinidad and Tobago, and over time became “deeply radical” by his teachings and those of other foreign radical preachers.
Radjev believes he needs to carry out armed violence against “enemies of Islam”, and is considering traveling to Afghanistan to join Taliban militants. He also tried to recruit his family and friends, and created a social media group to spread his ideologies, the ISD said.
Although he had no specific plans to attack, Radjev admitted that he was prepared to carry out an attack in Singapore or against Singapore’s interests abroad, the department said.
“Radjev’s case underscores the proliferation of terrorist and extremist ideologies online, including those propagated by foreign preachers and ideologists,” it added.
“So it’s important to maintain Singapore’s zero-tolerance approach towards extremist rhetoric and hate speech, and to inoculate the wider community against radical ideologies.”