Radicalisation a significant threat to S'pore: Ng Eng Hen

Radicalisation a significant threat to S'pore: Ng Eng Hen
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has called radicalisation a "significant threat" to Singapore and a host of other nations.

There were incidents in Singapore of well-educated people who were "self-radicalised, lending themselves to extreme ideologies and willing to commit extremist acts" even though they had not travelled out of Singapore.

"So this is no longer fiction. This is real," he said at an interview with Indian and Singapore reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Dr Ng held talks with his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during his three-day visit to India that ended yesterday.

He told reporters that his discussions with the Indian leadership touched on the crises in "Syria and Iraq attracting persons from many, many countries". They did not discuss specific cases.

This is "increasing the opportunity of radicalising people because of the ground experience they will have had in Iraq and Syria", he said.

"When they finally return to their home countries, the threat they can pose to their home population, it is a significant threat," he added, echoing global concerns about the fallout from the continuing conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Transnational terrorism is seen to have emerged as a threat for Singapore.

In March, the Singapore authorities found an Indian national and a Singapore citizen, both of whom were working in Singapore, attempting to take part in the conflict in Syria.

Gul Mohamed Maracachi Maraicar, a 37-year-old Indian national working as a systems analyst with a multinational company in Singapore, helped to radicalise Haja Fakkurudeen Usman Ali, 37, according to Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs.

Haja's whereabouts are unknown while Maraicar was deported to India.

Dr Ng said the only way to counter home-grown and transnational terrorism is stepping up the sharing of intelligence and information.

"In this battle against terrorist elements, information is key and sharing of information is key.

"The more we know... the safer we can be and better prepared we are. We have to come together and share information," he said.

India and Singapore are mulling over increasing the intelligence sharing as they look to enhancing bilateral defence cooperation.

This article was first published on August 21, 2014.
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